Clint Johnston of Chilliwack was acclaimed president-elect of the BC Teachers’ Federation on Tuesday.

He comes to the role with a wealth of experience having served for six years as Executive Vice President of the BCTF and President of the Chilliwack Teachers’ Association from 2012 to 2014. He is also Vice President of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation and teachers.

Negotiating higher wages will be the priority as he heads into collective bargaining as the union’s chief negotiator.

“The reality is that British Columbia is one of the most expensive jurisdictions in Canada to live in,” Johnston said.

This means that teachers’ salaries have actually fallen.

“If the salary doesn’t keep up with inflation, it’s actually a decrease,” Johnston said.

His dearest hope?

“That we get a decent contract for our members,” he replied.

Ensuring that the workload is manageable and does not burn people out is important in tackling the critical shortage of teachers, which disproportionately affects students with diverse learning needs.

“I would like this to be handled properly, so that it is no longer a topic,” he said.

Two years of fighting a pandemic have shown how much teachers accomplish and how valuable and necessary this work is for society, he said.

“So it’s up to the government and the employer to make teaching a profession that balances the needs of the employees with those of the employer, to attract those who want to come here from other jurisdictions,” he said. he says.

He first turned to a career in education after losing his hand in a devastating work accident at age 23. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Human Kinetics and Education from the University of British Columbia and has taught as an elementary school teacher.

Growing up in Chilliwack in the 1970s, Johnston said the atmosphere was “conservative and monochromatic”.

There were systemic issues and discrimination.

“But I had the opportunity to learn and grow,” Johnston said. “What my upbringing has given me is the understanding that everyone has the capacity to learn and grow, as well as the desire to make a difference and work to include everyone.”

The Chilliwack Teachers’ Association congratulated Johnston in a tweet.

“His strong stances on Indigenous and LGBTQ2S+ rights and justice, and his belief that an inclusive union is a stronger union are traits that will stand him in good stead in this role,” the CTA tweet read.

“Congratulations Clint. We look forward to seeing you again at an in-person meeting! »

Increasing the representation of Indigenous teachers is definitely on his radar, as well as promoting the inclusion of the LGBTQ2S+ community.

“I’ll be blunt – it’s essential for our workforce,” Johnston said.

Johnston elected by the 49,000-member federation at its 2022 annual general meeting on March 22, to serve a one-year term. Johnston succeeds President Teri Mooring when her third one-year term ends June 30.

The new BCTF president is married to Holly Johnston. They have five children, three of whom are still in the K-12 school system.

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