Now that the strike is over, Educational Assistants in the Hanover School Division are thrilled to get back to school.
Jenn Richard says picketing was challenging and tiring, but they did their best to make the most of it.
“People are amazing. We were navigating foreign territory, and we went out there and the people have just supported us. I will forever be grateful. The thumbs up, honking, thank you so much. All the parents that came out and advocated for us, wow, it's humbling actually.”
Being that they often frequented the same corners, Richard says they got acquainted with traffic patterns and even began to recognized vehicles and their drivers.
“There was one truck, it was so loud, he put his Jake brakes on, and then he would also honk his horn and we cheered, we jumped up and down cheering, he was amazing.”
Meanwhile, Kim Esau says some community members went above and beyond.
“It's been amazing, we've had food brought to us, we've had kids drop by to say high to their EAs, lots of honking, lots of just ‘we've got you guys, we're behind you’. Just a very positive experience.”
Richard says they certainly would rather have been at work, but the strike did build a sense of camaraderie.
“I connected with schools and people, some of them I have maybe worked with in the past but I also got to know other people that work as educational assistants and I've never been more proud to be an EA.”
Esau adds “Our teams grew too, so many hours of talking and sharing and laughing and crying and just bonding, we're a stronger group going back, I think.”
Speaking of going back, with a new collective agreement ratified, Richard says she is more than excited to head back to work.
“I am kind of running on a high right now, I have not slept a lot, I'm just looking forward to seeing the kids, the teachers, our school." She adds “I am so ready.”
Shedding tears of joy, Esau couldn’t agree more.
“We have some shirts made-up to go back to school. I have a lot of chips and dip in my car to take to school today. I said the day I come back is going to be a chip party, so I'm loaded up and ready to go.”
And what does her shirt say?
“It's a good day to be happy.”