Gathering at the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery, over 100 supporters came out in the rain this afternoon in support of the Quebec student movement, which marked its 100th day of protest on Tuesday.
Sporting red, the colour of Quebec’s student movement, the gatherers chanted: “The people united will never be defeated!”
“I agree that we need to abolish tuition fee increases,” said Adrian Fu, 32, a math student at Langara College. “I believe public education is a right. I stand in solidary with the Quebec student movement.”
In March, students and supporters hit the streets in defiance of university tuition fee increases advocated by the Charest government. According to the proposed increases, university tuition fees would rise from $2,168 to $3,793 over five years from 2012 to 2017.
“I'm here in support of Quebec and affordable education,” said Yahi Vaiani, 56. “I’m hoping we keep education affordable. It’s not affordable in our province, and in Quebec it is. I hope it stays that way.”
But tuition fee hikes weren't the only thing on the protesters' minds: they were also there to advocate for civil liberties. On March 16, the Quebec government announced a plan to introduce Bill 78, an emergency legislation that would suspend the school semester for striking students in an attempt to end months of protests over tuition fees across the province.
Implementing Bill 78 would mean students would take an early summer holiday and come back in August to finish the interrupted spring courses before the fall semester in October.
“It’s not just the students who are affected by Bill 78,” said Tami Starlight, a speaker and event organizer. “The law symbolizes repression from the Charest government … that a provincial government can pass such draconian laws, I just shake my head. I’m glad, at least today, so many people came out across the country.”
Other Canadian cities, as well as New York and Paris, witnessed similar support rallies.