The student manifestation against tuition increases in Quebec took to the streets yesterday, quickly becoming the largest demonstration in Montreal’s recent history. Protest organizers estimated that about 200,000 people came together to march peacefully for accessible education.
The crowd began in front of Concordia’s Hall building and continued to walk, chant, and dance all around the city – reaching the Old Port five hours later, where the strikers then dispersed.
Photogs, camera men, and journalists (both professional and amateur) were there to document the massive demonstration, as organizers and students crossed their fingers in the hopes of the impressive turnout and solidarity pushing the liberal government to change their mind about tuition hikes.
The issue is a complicated one, especially considering Quebec’s history of low tuition (due partly to past protests). Non-Montrealers witnessing the manifestation certainly seemed confused. In fact, I took a video for a tourist from London using her camera phone when she was trying to explain the scene behind her to her family and friends back home: “I don’t know what it’s about. But there are A LOT of students here. It’s a happy protest but… Can you see them? … SO many.”
It was a very peaceful demonstration – which is something students can be proud of. Not only was there singing, dancing, and smiles exchanged while the crowd marched and brandished posters, but it has been confirmed that there were no arrests, no incidents, and no injuries.
Overall, from what I witnessed and have heard, the event was a great success for organizers and for students. Now, all that is left to do is wait… And see if it makes any amount of difference.
*For a more detailed look into the days events, go to The Concordian newspaper’s website to see Chris Hanna’s and Sophia Loffreda’s live tweets from when they were marching with the crowd, as well as a larger photo gallery.
Here are a few videos short videos, just to give you an idea of what the atmosphere was like:
1. Chad Walcott, Concordia Student Union VP External,dancing with another organizer as the crowd gets pumped during the initial hours of the march.
2. A group of protesters performing a make shift musical number by hitting drums, pots, and pans in the middle of the crowd, while others dance on the corner of Peel and Ste Catherine street.
3. The group of demonstrators as they march down Berri street towards the Old Port and cross under an overpass crowded with supporters, onlookers, and photogs.
By Sophia Loffreda
Follow her on Twitter: @sloffreda
Photos and video copyright of Sophia Loffreda.