Tom Kertes

I am a middle school art and drama teacher in the North Coast region of BC, in the territory of the Gispaxlo’ots and Gits’iis of the Ts’msyen Nation (Prince Rupert, BC). I teach Grade 7, Art, and Drama at Prince Rupert Middle School (SD52).

I was born in Ellensburg, WA, the territory of the Kittitas. My ancestors are Irish, German, Hungarian, and English. My husband Ron and I immigrated to Canada from the United States in 2007. We first moved to Toronto and then Vancouver. In 2015 Ron and I moved to Queen Charlotte, in Haida Gwaii. We later moved to Prince Rupert in 2018.

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 my favourite poets. Literary romance, historical fiction, and serious science fiction are my favourite genres. I’m a fan of Ursula Le Guin, Ken Follett, Zora Neale Hurston, Eden Robinson, Tim Federle, Gore Vidal, and Nella Larsen.

Before teaching, I was a community organizer with the poor people’s movement to end poverty, a network of community organizations committed to securing everyone’s economic human rights by advancing the values of respect, dignity, and the sanctity of human life. I helped organize a living wages campaign at Baltimore’s Camden Yards. Stadium clean-up workers announced that they would start a hunger strike on Labour Day 2007 – unless the publicly-owned stadium agreed to a living wage for the cleaners. On the eve of this worker-imposed deadline, Maryland’s governor announced that the demands would be met. The hunger strike was called off. Wages are now pegged to the state’s living wage law and the stadium cleaners are unionized.

I was also a community organizer with the Liberation Learning Project in Vancouver. The project helped organize the Child Care Equity Campaign at UBC, calling for gender equitable wages and a 20% “wage correction” for early childhood educators at UBC. The target date for achieving the pay correction was by International Women’s Day 2012. The already unionized child care professionals at UBC (members of the BCGEU) successfully met this goal by uniting educators, families, and the labour movement around pay equity for early childhood educators.

Other experience includes public relations and media production. I worked as a communications consultant with Save-a-Pet, the Toronto and York Region Labour Council, IWT/Real News Network, and Biz Kids Productions. I helped produce viral videos viewed by tens of millions. I wrote op-eds published in the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail and organized media events covered by the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Guardian, CNN, ABC News, and CBC News. I was Policy and Communications Advisor for Ontario’s self-regulatory College of Early Childhood Educators. I was an AIDS activist in my early twenties and fought for LGBTQ+ rights as a member of ACT UP and Queer Nation.

View my current resume for more information.