Suzie Mah is a COPE candidate for Vancouver School Board. Join COPE to help elect Suzie and all the other COPE candidates by signing up here.
What is your background and experience? What work have you done in your life or community that is relevant to the office you're seeking?
Protecting and enhancing progressive and democratic movements is a core value for me. My 30 years plus professional and personal experience give me a deep understanding of how our school board and schools work. As a teacher union activist, I have fought for the rights of teachers and in doing so, protected the learning conditions for our students. I am a skilled collective agreement negotiator that has bargained both at the local and provincial levels. I have experience working on many school board committees, with trustees and officials, as an advocate to create policies that address sexism, racism, and employment equity. As a teacher, I have taught students from kindergarten to Grade 12 and adults in both face-to-face settings as well as online. I’ve taught in inner city schools and continue to witness growing poverty and its effects on children’s learning. Finally, as an east side parent, I watched my own son go through a system where every year from 2002, there were program and staffing cuts. I have an understanding from a parent’s perspective on how to advocate for support for children’s academic and emotional needs.
Highlights of my advocacy experience:
Over 30 years of extensive union activism
Currently school Anti-Racism lead teacher and chair of school’s Calls to Action Committee
Currently Parent Advisory Committee teacher liaison
Currently teacher representative on BC Labour Heritage Center’s Education Committee
Currently director of BC Teachers Federation Assistance Society
Vancouver Elementary School Teachers’ Association (VESTA) President and Vice President
VESTA Status of Women Chair, Anti-Racism Chair, Bargaining Chair
Teacher representative on Vancouver School Board’s Employment Equity, Facilities Planning Committee, Student Learning and Well-Being Committee, and Personnel Committee
BC Teachers Federation Executive Member at Large
Provincial BCTF Bargaining Co-Chief Negotiator bargaining equity teacher hiring language
School based Union Staff Representative for over twenty-five years
Succeeded in organizing and establishing twinning of Mexico City’s Section 9 Teachers Union with the Vancouver Elementary School Association, 1999
Canadian Delegate and guest speaker to two Tri-National Coalition to Defend Public Education Conferences to respond to NAFTA’s neo-liberal impacts on education, 2000
- Teacher delegate to Summit of the America’s in Quebec City to protest the Free Trade of the Americas (FTTA), 2000
Born, raised, and attended Seymour and Queen Alexandra Elementary Schools and Britannia Secondary School in Vancouver’s east side neighborhoods
Currently living in the Hastings Sunrise neighborhood
- Parent of a child who attended Franklin Elementary and Templeton Secondary
Over 30 years teaching in Vancouver’s elementary and secondary schools, adult education, and online programs
Bachelor of Education and Master of Education from UBC
- Coastal Jazz Volunteer
- Vancouver International Film Festival Volunteer
- PUSH Festival Volunteer
- FRINGE Festival Volunteer
What do you like about COPE and why do you think you’ll be a good fit for COPE?
For me, COPE has always represented a people’s movement for the people. In today’s growing divide of rich and poor, it is critical to continue building a grassroots community that will challenge privatization and win back a fully funded education system that meets the needs of all the students in our diverse communities. COPE’s education policies resonate with me, and I am committed to achieving these policies and more if elected to office. I admire the rich diversity of the COPE membership and I want to be part of a progressive and inclusive party. My advocacy and experience as a union leader and teacher highlight my social justice work. I want to use my skills and experience to build and lead a stronger school board that will enable our students to develop the skills they need to build a better future for themselves and for all of us.
What are the big issues you want to highlight during the election campaign and work on while in office?
As a Vancouver School Board Trustee. I will work to develop, and achieve, a vision that would make our schools more inclusive, safe, and equitable for all. I will work to re-vitalize parent, staff, student, and community engagement in voice and decision making. I will work to build relationships with fellow trustees. Together, we can move forward in creating a school system where students thrive and where positive connections are made with parents, students, staff, and the community each school serves. Relationships matter. It is through this collective action that we will achieve a better school system.
In 2018, COPE school board candidates campaigned for a universal meal program for children, an Indigenous high school, and improving graduation rates for all students. These have yet to be achieved and I will commit to working to achieve these goals.
In addition to these goals, I will commit to the following:
- Advocating and achieving more funding for schools
- Implementing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action
- Addressing our planet’s climate emergency
- Taking a strong stance on anti-racism and non-discriminatory practises
- Supporting the visual and performing Arts
- Supporting democracy and citizen involvement
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