Tom Kertes lives in Prince Rupert, in the territory of the Ts’msyen.
Tom has over fifteen years of teaching experience – working with students from preschool to college. He currently teaches Grade 7 and Drama 8 in Prince Rupert. He taught high school English and Drama at Gidg̱alang Ḵuuyas Naay in Daajing Giids, Haida Gwaii.
Tom coaches the Rainmakers Speech and Debate Team at CHSS and the Storm Speech and Debate Team at PRMS. He co-advises the PRMS Drama Club and PRMS Grade 8 School Play at PRMS. He co-advises the Ama G̱oot, Ama Wüng̱aws Council (leadership council for Grades 7 and 8) at PRMS.
Tom is the volunteer Executive Director of Reader’s Way Learning Centre Society, a volunteer-based and not-for-profit tutoring centre in Prince Rupert.
Before moving to Daajing Giids in 2015 and to Prince Rupert in 2018, Tom was a preschool teacher at UBC Child Care in Vancouver. He was a college instructor of Early Childhood Education at Seneca College in Toronto and a policy advisor to Ontario’s self-regulatory College of Early Childhood Educators.
He also helped produce children’s educational television as the Production Coordinator for Biz Kids, a show about business and finance for children – aired nationally on public television stations throughout North America in the mid 2000s.
Before becoming a teacher, Tom was a community organizer with the faith-based poor people’s economic human rights movement to end poverty. He worked in Atlanta, Washington, DC, and Baltimore with 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.
Tom helped organize a living wages campaign at Baltimore’s Camden Yards from 2005 to 2009. After three years of organizing for better working conditions, 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 all of the cleaners. On the eve of this worker-imposed deadline, Maryland’s Governor announced that the demands would be met. The hunger strike was subsequently called off.
Tom later worked as a community organizer for the Liberation Learning Project in Vancouver. This campaign 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 International Women’s Day 2012. The already unionized child care professionals at UBC (who were members of the BCGEU) successfully met their goal by uniting educators, families, and the labour movement around pay equity for early childhood educators.
Tom is an active member of St. Paul’s Lutheran in Prince Rupert and is Vice Chairperson of the Church Council. He is the volunteer Executive Director and lead tutor for the Reader’s Way Learning Centre Society. He is the volunteer organizer for People for Public Infrastructure. He also founded the Community for Clean Water campaign. Tom helped lead the Reopen Worship for Prince Rupert campaign.
Tom serves as a Trustee of the North Coast Labour Council and is the past President of the labour council. He is currently the Labour Liaison for the Prince Rupert District Teachers’ Union (PRDTU) and was the Vice President of the PRDTU from 2020-2022.
Tom was president of his housing co-operative in Vancouver. He served on the board of the Early Childhood Educators of BC Society (ECEBC) and the Washington Association for the Education of Young Children (WAEYC). He was an AIDS activist with the direct action group ACT UP in the 1990s and a gay rights organizer with a local Queer Nation chapter in Olympia, Washington.
Tom and his now husband Ron immigrated to Canada from the United States in 2007. He is now a dual citizen of Canada and the United States. Tom was born in the territory of the Kittitas (who are now part of the Yakama Nation) in Ellensburg, Washington. Tom’s great-grandparents immigrated to the United States from Ireland, Hungary, England, and Germany. Tom grew up in Cheney, WA, a small college town outside of Spokane, WA.