History Graduate Students
Dear History Graduate Students
Dear History Graduate Students, CUPE 3903 members and our supporters,
This is not going to go for long but I must take this time to say how deeply – in fact nearly strutting and posing – proud I am to be associated with you. I know that we are all flushed with the heat and warmth (not necessarily the same thing) of a well-deserved victory. I also know that we all have stories, scars and memories of previous struggles that have shaped us to this time. But for me, I must tell you how special (hate that word but Thesaurus wouldn’t help) that you and this moment are.
About three years ago, I was involved in a high school teachers strike in Simcoe County. We, like other teachers in both the elementary and the secondary panels across Ontario, were on strike for principles. We did the walking in circles. We did the heated debates. We ate Timbits until we hated their sight and smell. We talked and ranted of principles – great lofty principles that would never be taken from our still-alive arms. And after several weeks on the line and a faltering showing of dismal bravado, we folded. We followed the sensible line. We were adults (of the having kids, mortgages and lawnmowers kind). We took the meager offer of slight rebuke and accepted the continued erosion of public education by our Common Sense government and its lackeys (is this too strong?).
I suppose that I have a good grasp on the rationales for that folding – being older and more seasoned (but clearly not wiser as events would show). Still the events really trashed me. Fortunately for angels, I could get out of the secondary system and move on to where I wanted to be – a Grad Student, don’t-you-know. But our folding burned me steadily and constantly.
So what happened this fall – I told you this wasn’t going on for long. I was as happy as the proverbial clam with a dissertation proposal all set to go and working in group that I thought was aces – how much aces I was to learn over 11 weeks. No, I can not go there – we all have myriad stories and smiles of just how much we are aces and that this is best. But I would like to get to this letter is all about.
Since October 26, I have walked with, talked with and laughed with some absolutely incredible people whom I might never have really met. I have been cold too but not nearly as cold as those who trudged every day. I have been frustrated by personal prognostications (I should know better) and by suggestions that “perhaps I should just get back to work”. But I never thought that I would be part of a victory of principles. Hell, I never thought that I would see a victory of principles.
And I am and I did! It does not get better than this! And for that, I am incredibly grateful and proud of CUPE and the Fortress Founders. Wow, to win on principles!! This is not something that happens every day (although it should). Perhaps I say thank you too much but nonetheless, thank you for the catharsis and most of all for the friendship and the victory.
Best Regards, John Montgomery