August 20, 2021

Toronto teacher Karen Brown elected ETFO president

AUGUST 20, 2021

TORONTO, ON – Toronto teacher Karen Brown was elected president of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) at today’s Annual Meeting. Brown has served as ETFO first vice-president since 2015 and was first elected to the provincial Executive in 2009. Brown is the first   Black president to be elected to a provincial teacher affiliate union in Ontario and the first known Black president to be elected to a provincial teacher affiliate union in Canada.

“To effectively confront the Ford government’s agenda and defeat them in the next election, we must strategically build community power that puts people first, not corporations. We must partner with parent groups, communities, and our labour and education partners from the childcare sector to post-secondary. Working together, we will effect the necessary changes to create a public education system rooted in equity and social justice so every student and ETFO member can thrive.

“As president, I will lead with the passion and resolve necessary to ensure ETFO members are protected and supported. In the face of systemic racism, ETFO must continue to lead the charge for inclusive workplaces. We must vehemently oppose using race, religion, ancestry, gender, or sexual orientation to build a wedge among members or within our communities,” says Brown.

Brown began her teaching career with the Toronto District School Board in 1993. She is also a registered early childhood educator and has extensive experience in the early years. Brown has an undergraduate degree in Child Studies from Brock University, and obtained a master of education in adaptive instruction and special education from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, in 2008.

Locally, Brown served as vice-president of the Elementary Teachers of Toronto from 2003 to 2012, and as chief negotiator, grievance officer, benefits coordinator, and strike team coordinator.

At the provincial level, Brown has chaired and served on several Federation standing committees and task forces. Brown serves on the Canadian Labour Congress’ Women’s Advisory Committee, is a governor of the Ontario Teachers’ Federation, is a member of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, and has volunteered with the Canadian Alliance of Black Educators. Brown is an avid supporter of the Ontario Alliance of Black School Educators.

Brown is the founder and past president of Single Mothers Inspiring Leadership in Education (SMILE) and is an agent of change for educating women and girls. In 2017, she was named as one of Canada’s 100 Most Accomplished Black Women.

ETFO represents 83,000 elementary public school teachers, occasional teachers and education professionals across the province. Its Building Better Schools education agenda can be viewed at