Laura Walton, president of CUPE Ontario School Board Council of Unions (OSBCU), has garnered strong support among the people of Ontario after Monday's press conference calling off the educational workers' strike.
This came after Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he will rescind the controversial Bill 28 legislation if the workers stop their strike.
"This is just the beginning," Walton said.
"Our commitment to the people of Ontario, to the parents, to the kids, is we are going back to the table with open minds, open hearts and we're ready to negotiate, and we call on the government to do the exact same."Laura Walton, President of CUPE OSBCU
Laura Walton has been the OSBCU president for more than three years, played a huge role in leading thousands of educational workers to the picket lines to protest the Ontario government's use of controversial legislation and to fight for higher pay for workers.
Along with being a representative of CUPE Ontario, she's a mental health advocate, activist, and an educational assistant.
Last month, in an interview with Counterpoint, CUPE's quarterly magazine, Walton said that education is a part of her family—with almost all of her family members involved in the education system in one way or another.
"My grandmother was a school secretary. My dad was a principal. My stepmother and uncle were teachers." she said.
"I knew I wanted to work in schools, but I came up in the '90s when there was a glut of teachers and no teaching jobs. So, I worked other jobs to put myself through university, and when I was pregnant with my daughter, I trained to be an EA."
She also discussed how she always wanted to work with children and loved it—and how through that, she ended up joining CUPE.
"I worked with extremely behaviourally challenged teenagers, many coming out of the criminal justice system and trying to transition back to school. It was rewarding. But I was also working other jobs just to make ends meet. That is when I went to my first union meeting.
Walton also discussed the importance of bargaining for better rights and sustainable wages and how it inspired her to stand up against the government.
Many people in Ontario came out on Monday commending Walton for her grit and for standing strong with all educational workers in Ontario.
"The solidarity people showed for education workers and for everyone who relies on the Charter most of all has been an incredible experience for all of us that we won’t soon forget," a news release by CUPE read.