Awards recognize teacher leaders for their strong, prolonged efforts in social justice education and action

July 11, 2013

Ottawa… A University of Saskatchewan professor and advocate against oppression and racism and a longtime teacher organization leader from Eastern Ontario are the recipients of the 2013 Special Recognition Award from the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF). The award annually acknowledges individuals’ meritorious contributions to education and/or the teaching profession on provincial, territorial, national and international levels. This year’s awards were presented today at the CTF’s Annual General Meeting at the Marriott Hotel in downtown Ottawa.

“Gene Lewis and Verna St. Denis do very different work, but both have admirably dedicated their professional lives to social justice and equity,” says CTF President Paul Taillefer. “It’s inspiring to see educators work hard and put in so much time for both their peers and communities.”

Gene Lewis was the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) nominee because of his longtime commitment to teachers’ rights and engagement in both provincial and national arenas. Lewis served as CTF Board member for 22 years and has been a major leader in the ETFO as General Secretary since 1998. He began teaching in 1968, working in both Hamilton and London. In 1991, he became President of the Ontario Public School Teachers’ Federation (OPSTF), going on to serve for three terms and become the OPSTF’s longest serving President. In his many years as a teacher leader, Lewis has successfully led Ontario’s elementary teachers through turbulent and challenging times, toward strong bargaining, professional development programs, and commitment to social justice.

Verna St. Denis was nominated by the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation for her devotion to anti-oppression and anti-racism education in universities and schools. She received her doctorate from Stanford University and is now an Associate Professor at the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Education. She conducts research and historical analysis, and teaches hundreds of students a year about the pervasive role of oppression and racism in our communities. St. Denis is an influential advocate, working with policymakers and educators to prioritize change in curricular and pedagogical practices.

The Canadian Teachers’ Federation is an alliance of nearly 200,000 elementary and secondary educators from 16 organizations, 15 Members and one Affiliate Member, across Canada. Follow the CTF on Twitter: @CanTeachersFed and @EnseigneCanada.



CTF President Paul Taillefer


Francine Filion, Director of Communications, 613-688-4314 (office) or 613-899-4247 (cell)