Montreal Protests: Students with a Voice!

Posted by Viola Chen & filed under Politics.

Esther Frid holds "El Atardecer de la Vida," a book she wrote about the stories of seven senior Latin American women living in Canada

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Photo courtesy of cbc.ca

With the growing movement of protests unwinding all over the world, it is no surprise that a protest has hit the east side of Canada. Quebec students have been protesting since February due to a government tuition fee hike. The protest has definitely grown into more of a social movement. These protests are also serving the purpose to challenge the unequal and severe actions that the neoliberal government has been making in Quebec. The movement has adopted the red square to symbolise the fight against oppression, exploitation and tuition.

You might be surprised to know that Quebec students actually have the lowest tuition in North America. But regardless of this, these students have the right to protest these unreasonable changes.

Red Square Revolt | Quebec Students on Strike from nate on Vimeo.

I’m a bit of a socialist and think education should be free or at least affordable for the majority of the population. Public education is a right, but unfortunately it has turned into a commodity. As a student myself, it is frustrating to see our tuition increase every year. It has come to the point where most students are unable to afford the right to education and are left with no choice but to take on student loans which leaves most graduates starting a life of debt.

The protests for the most part were peaceful and nonviolent, but despite this, Quebec’s premier, Jean Charest, introduced bill 78. This bill limits the ways people can demonstrate and protest. But this did not stop demonstrations. Ever since the new law, people have been demonstrating with pots and pans to make as much noise as they can. It is ridiculous for a government to limit people to pre-approved times and places for protests. The right to freely express yourself should never be taken away, especially by your own elected government. What is this undemocratic nonsense! This is most certainly unconstitutional and a violation of freedom and speech.

Casseroles – Montréal, 24 Mai 2012 from Jeremie Battaglia on Vimeo.

A presence of pride and support is seen amongst Quebecers during these protests. Both anarchists and nationalists have been part of this movement. It is certainly amazing to see that the differences amongst protesters can be overcome in order to find some common ground and unite for one cause.

I feel like provincial pride outside Quebec is a bit lacking. I definitely hope to see more societies stand up to their fundamental rights and freedom. The rest of Canada can absolutely learn from Quebec. We don’t have to stand by and watch in silence as our tuition increases yearly at rates that are ridiculously unaffordable.

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