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Sask. students say 'pressure is still on' ahead of renewed talks between teachers, province


The school year has been a challenging one for students and teachers alike, yet students see the problems teachers have brought forward during a lengthy contract dispute with the Saskatchewan government firsthand.

For that reason, a group of students descended on the legislative grounds in Regina on Friday.

T.J. Dedul, like many of his peers, has made sacrifices this school year. He’s missed out on work placement experience and the chance to show off the shop skills he’s been learning at Campus Regina Public as a result of job action from teachers.

“I was really upset over it, because they cancelled out Skills Canada and I was going into Skills Canada for the experience of getting into that area where I could get that plaque or whatever or like the medal at least and show, ‘Hey, I've worked for this, I've worked hard for this,’” Dedul said.

Despite it all, he was among the students on the steps of the legislative building Friday, calling for more guarantees on education funding.

“I’m not mad at the teachers. I believe it’s the truth and what needs to be done,” Dedul said.

The gathering began as the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation (STF) announced a return to the bargaining table with the province last week, bringing the current work-to-rule sanctions to a close as the school day ended on Friday.

Students who helped organize the demonstration through Snapchat and word-of-mouth say they want the government to know they’re still behind teachers no matter what happens when talks resume.

“We want the government to know that the pressure is still on from students,” said Kate Hultgren, a Grade 12 student.

“It's good to see that we're moving somewhere. I hope the government will comply with them and they can work together to find some way to fix this,” Grade 11 student Viki Bernier told CTV News, adding the current strike hasn’t deterred her goal of becoming a teacher one day. “I’ve had great teachers growing up, and especially now that they’re trying their hardest to make it work for us, it really gives me more motivation to try and be those great teachers.”

“I hope that they actually listen to the teachers this time and I hope that by us students being here, it shows that we care too, and we want the teachers to be heard,” said fellow Grade 11 Student, Izzy Sunshine.

The frustration felt over the current education landscape and months without a new contract for teachers stretches beyond Saskatchewan’s two main centres, with a group of students in Tisdale arranging a similar demonstration to their peers in Regina.

“It’s been a challenging year, that’s for sure,” said Ronda Lyttle, a parent of a Grade 7 student in Tisdale.

Lyttle told CTV News her daughter’s classes have been running for hours on end with little to no breaks over the past week. She supports what the teachers are fighting for, but wants both sides to keep one aspect in mind during these renewed talks and any further job action.

“Think about the kids, think about the future of those kids as to how this is affecting them, not only emotionally but mentally,” Lyttle said.

“Sanctions are challenging, they create disruptions in the learning students have within schools, they create disruptions within those extra opportunities that students participate in through the voluntary services of teachers,” said STF President Samantha Becotte.

Sanctions and setbacks creating a challenging year the students hope gives way to a better future for education and, for Dedul, a chance to compete at Skills Canada as a Grade 12 next year.

Talks between the STF and the province are scheduled to resume Tuesday. Top Stories


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