Hi, I’m Tom Kertes. (My friends call me Curtis.)

Who I Am

I was born in Ellensburg, Washington (the territory of the Yakama). I live in Prince Rupert, BC (the territory of the Tsimshian). I am a dual citizen of Canada and the United States. I moved to Canada in 2007 and became a Canadian citizen in 2014. My husband Ron is a computer programmer. I am also a son, brother, nephew, cousin, uncle, grandson, friend, and neighbour.

I am a teacher for the Prince Rupert School District. I am a member of the British Columbia Teachers’ Association and Prince Rupert Teachers’ Union. I am a Catholic who attends the Anglican Church. I believe in social justice. I do my best to stand up for all others and to treat everyone with respect and dignity.

My Favourites

I enjoy hiking and camping, playing board games with friends, cooking, reading, and writing. I also love travelling – both near home and to far off places. I like camping for the weekend, going to small towns all around the world, visiting ancient sites, travelling on ferries and trains, taking part in traditional music and theatre festivals, and seeing rivers.

Oscar Wilde is my favourite playwright. Mary Oliver and W.H. Auden are among my favourite poets. (I’m also partial to e.e. cummings, Lee Maracle, Langston Hughes, and many more.) Literary romance, historical fiction, and serious science fiction are my favourite genres and I’m a fan of Ursula Le Guin, Ken Follett, Zora Neale Hurston, Eden Robinson, Tim Federle, Gore Vidal, Nella Larsen, etc.

I also love non-fiction writing, such as the writing of Hannah Arendt, MLK, David Harvey, Joan Didion, Thomas King, and John Ralston Saul. Science and philosophy are my favourite non-fiction subjects. I read about teaching, learning, thinking, writing, and schooling – drawing a lot from Paulo Freire and Lev Vygotsky. I used to own a children’s book store. I still love children’s books and I wish I had the time (and money) to open another small shop someday.

My History

I was born in Ellensburg, Washington, within the traditional territory of the Kittitas. In 1855 this land was reluctantly ceded by treaty to the United States – at the conclusion of the Yakima War between the United States and several First Nations. Prior to this, the land had been claimed by the Spanish Empire, Great Britain (as part of British North America), and the United States. Just fifty years earlier, Lewis and Clark first made overland contact with the Sahaptian-speaking people of this region.

I am descendant to several waves of European immigrants to the United States, including great grandparents from Hungary and Ireland. My last name was originally Kertész – a Hungarian surname meaning gardener. I am also related to immigrants who originally lived in Germany, England, and other parts of Europe. This part of my family settled first in the Midwest and moved West by way of Kansas – finally settling in Wenatchee, Washington. My other family surnames are English and German in origin.

I am told that I am descendant to several lines of rustlers, gamblers, and bootleggers. The Second World War helped put an end to all this. My grandmothers were both nurses. My grandfathers were a government accountant and a radar operator (in the war) and factory foreman (after). I am the first generation, of three, to not serve in the United States military during a war.

My step-father Dean Smith died in 2012 from exposure to Agent Orange herbicide when he was a helicopter pilot for the United States during the Vietnam War. He suffered for many years from complications due to this exposure. Many Vietnamese suffered from the war as well, including from Agent Orange exposure and from the United States policy of forced urbanization (by destroying forest and farm lands to move people into the cities). My uncle John Wyatt also died from injuries sustained during the Vietnam War, suffering for many years from exposure to Agent Orange and other combat injuries.

I still practice much of the Irish Catholicism passed down from my paternal grandmother Mary, although I now attend the Anglican Church. My faith is grounded in the Gospel, Catholic social teaching, and liberation theology.