Skip to content

The Monitor Progressive news, views and ideas

On Heather-jane Robertson

August 12, 2021

1-minute read

It was with great sadness that I learned of the passing of my good friend Heather-jane Robertson. Heather-jane was a born educator and a passionate advocate for public education. We met in the early 1990s when she was director of professional development for the Canadian Teacher’s Federation. We bonded over our commitment to the women’s movement and public services and our deep suspicion that free trade agreements like NAFTA were going to undermine both.

In 1994, we published our bestseller, Class Warfare, The Assault on Canada’s Schools and went on tour across the country, speaking to many thousands of educators about the intrusion of corporate interests and the profit motive into our schools. I loved writing and being on the road with Heather-jane. She was ever fun, ever full of energy, ever ready to take on anyone promoting a neoliberal agenda in education. Heaven help anyone who took her on in a debate.

I remember one evening at a public forum on standardized student testing in Regina when the debate got heated with passionate views on both sides. Heather-jane and I laughed out loud however, when a farmer in the audience broke the tensions and summed our argument up best with the remark that “weighing a pig doesn’t make it fatter.”

Heather-jane deeply believed that to understand what kind of schools we should be creating, we need to ask what kind of society we want and work back from there. If we want a society divided by privilege of birth, wealth or skin colour, we would build an education system to serve it. But if we wanted a just, inclusive, supportive society, we had to build these values into a public system accessible by all. She never lost her commitment to that goal.

I send love and support to Mark, Caitlin and all Heather-jane’s family. We will miss her very much. Those who support public education owe her a debt of gratitude that we will honour by continuing to fight for it in her name.

Related Articles

Nova Scotia Budget Leaves Many Nova Scotians Behind

This budget could have been so much more than it is. Let's break down how.

Sask. Budget 2023: One weird trick to underfund public services

Faced with a crisis in health care and underfunded schools, the government of Saskatchewan is using its huge surplus to pay down the deficit.

Canada must cancel its free trade deal with Israel

Commitments to “inclusive” trade are meaningless if they support violations of international law.

Show your support

Since the beginning of the pandemic, our writers and researchers have provided groundbreaking commentary and analysis that has shaped Canada's response to COVID-19. We've fought for better supports for workers affected by pandemic closures, safer working conditions on the frontline, and more. With the launch of the new Monitor site, we're working harder than ever to share even more progressive news, views and ideas for Canada's road to recovery. Help us grow.

Support the Monitor