Chilliwack woman takes pictures of B.C. teachers to put a human face on labour dispute – BC

A Chilliwack photographer hopes making portraits of B.C. teachers will remind the public ‘they are not faceless.’

Thirty-one-year-old Sarah Sovereign says she was overwhelmed by the amount of negativity toward teachers on public forums since the labour dispute escalated last month.

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B.C. teachers started voting this morning on whether to increase their job action to a full-scale strike. Teachers have been engaged in rotating strikes for several weeks now.

“What I heard the most is that teachers are being represented almost like a faceless group, like a faceless entity talking about wanting more money,” says Sovereign. “I thought it would be great if I could do something to remind people that they are not faceless, that they are part of our community. I think everybody knows a teacher.”

So she started a Facebook group and received a lot of feedback from teachers wanting to take part in her project.

Sovereign says she is directly affected. Her mother is a teacher, and she has taken education courses that gave her a perspective on the class size and composition issues that the teachers’ union keeps bringing up.

She’s taken 30 photos already, and the reaction has been mostly positive.

“I am excited about how much support it has created for teachers. I think I’ve been surprised about how popular it’s been. It started off as something very small and personal.”

She says she met dozens of teachers through the project and got to hear their stories.

“I hear stories about what life is like with a lockout. I am hearing how it is affecting them personally, and I think it reflects well on the project itself,” she says.

Sovereign plans to expand her project into other municipalities on the Lower Mainland and get more teachers involved in her project.

To view Sovereign’s work, go here.

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