Tom Kertes is a middle school 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). He was was born in Ellensburg, WA, the territory of the Kittitas. His ancestors are Irish, German, Hungarian, and English. Tom immigrated to Canada from the United States in 2007 and is now a citizen of both Canada and the United States.
He works with other North Coast teachers as the founding organizer of the Critical Education Project, a network of North Coast educators sharing resources for supporting all students and communities. This network supports the development of students’ skills and knowledge in literacy, numeracy, leadership, community-building, and land-based education. He is also in the early stages of developing a program for teen authors. For more information about this project, visit the Scrawler’s Academy in-development website.
Before Tom started teaching in 2015, he was an AIDS activist in the 1990s and a community organizer in the poor people’s movement to end poverty in the 2000s. He helped organize day labourers in Baltimore, working with the United Workers Association and the University of the Poor’s School of Labor. He also helped organize early childhood educators in Vancouver, working with the Liberation Learning Project, the Child Care Equity Campaign, and the BCGEU.
Tom was also a communications specialist with the Toronto and York Region Labour Council and a policy advisor with Ontario’s self-regulatory College of Early Childhood Educators. Tom also worked in television and viral video production, helping produce Emmy-winning children’s educational television aired nationally on public television in the United States.
Tom helped organize a hunger strike and has organized mass protest marches, lobbied White House staff under the Obama administration, organized campaigns covered by the New York Times, CBC, and the Toronto Star, helped produce hard-hitting viral videos seen by tens of millions of viewers, and helped secure living wages for day labourers and achieve a gender equitable 20% “pay correction” for early childhood educators.