ATA News

Convention speakers deliver powerful messages

Off Script


I am fortunate to be able to attend all nine teachers’ conventions across the province. This year’s conventions were another great example of world class professional development for teachers organized by teachers. Many thanks to our colleagues who volunteer their time to organize convention every year. 

For me, the busy convention season provides a great opportunity to see many colleagues, but it is equally great to see some world-renowned speakers share their insights on education. Of course, I was not able to see all the speakers at all the conventions, but the ones I did manage to see definitely left a mark, so I wanted to highlight a few of my takeaways from this year’s whirlwind of travel around the province. 

At North Central Teachers’ Convention, Chief Cadmus Delorme spoke to a packed crowd about how we cannot have truth and reconciliation without talking openly and frankly about the truth of the treatment of Indigenous people in Canada, past and present. Chief Delorme said that education is the driver of hope, that we need to work together to achieve all 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He also commented that when he speaks with people, he shows them his heart before showing them his hand. The simple act of showing someone that you’re a person first is a great starting place for any difficult conversation.

At Calgary City Teachers’ Convention, journalist Anna Maria Tremonti spoke about the power of words and the importance of conversation, especially when dealing with misinformation. Lately, we have seen a lot of mistruths about what is happening in schools, especially around gender policies. Tremonti said we must continue to fight misinformation by offering the truth, even though this is difficult. 

“The light is in the cracks, and that light will illuminate the truth,” was how she phrased it, and that has resonated with me since. 

During his session at Greater Edmonton Teachers’ Convention, actor Andrew Phung commented that our words have power, that how we talk and treat one another can impact our lives for many years to come. He described the teachers who helped him along the way and said he learned from teachers how to be brave and respectful, how to listen carefully and how to be a problem solver. 

Phung’s closing comment left me at a loss for words and with a lump in my throat. He said that because his teachers fought for him, he was going to fight for us. ❚