tudent activists involved in ongoing Quebec student strikes will descend on UWindsor’s campus on July 16.
A panel presentation and question and answer period will take place in CAW Student Centre commons July 16 at 5 p.m. The event, part of a tour across Ontario, will also be held in Ottawa, Kingston, Hamilton, Niagara, London, Guelph, Toronto and Peterborough.
“It’s a really great opportunity to hear the experiences of folks … organizing and opposing a regressive policy as well as a drastic tuition fee hike,” said event facilitator Sarah King, chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students Ontario branch. King added that they would be meeting with unions and coalition partners in addition to presenting at the panels.
Quebec post-secondary students have been on strike for nearly four months to oppose a $1,778 tuition hike over seven years. Support for the students grew when Quebec passed bill 78, an emergency law that limits protests and punishes violations with severe fines.
“People aren’t very informed on the strikes because there isn’t a lot of information available in English media about it,” explained Mohammad Akbar, University of Windsor Student Alliance vice-president of university affairs.
UWSA councillor Mohammed Almoayad is organizing the UWindsor event with Akbar. “The [UWSA] council, a couple of weeks ago, voted to be in solidarity with the striking students’ unions in Quebec … we are in solidarity with these people and their struggle.”
“We want to know how they developed this culture in Quebec, where they can organize like this. They can be so engaged in the fight against tuition increases and so engaged with their own unions,” Almoayad said. “So when they come here, hopefully they’ll show students that it is possible … to get together and do something and affect change.”
Akbar added that he felt the protests are wrongly characterized as being extremely violent. “We’re hoping students come away with the idea that students are engaging in peaceful protest, not in violent acts of protest.”
The speakers at next Monday’s event are Hugo Bonin, an activist with Quebec student group CLASSE, Audrey Deveault, chairperson of the Dawson Students’ Union and representative of Quebec on the Canadian Federation of Students’ national executive, and Marianne Breton-Fontaine, editor of Quebec youth newspaper Jeunesse Militante.
“It’s a good opportunity for Quebec folks to raise awareness of what’s going on in Quebec because we know their struggle is not over,” said King. “As students courses are set to resume in the fall, they’re going to face a whole host of problems and media fights.”
King added this is a good time for Ontario students to hear about Quebec students struggles first-hand. “[Tuition fees] will be going up this fall, which will mean since 2006, we will have seen, on the high end, an increase of 71 per cent. This is not far off from what the Quebec government is proposing, which led to the student strike.”