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Occupation of Quebec Education Minister's Office Calls for Education for All

All children in Quebec should have free access to public primary and secondary education, says group

by Tim McSorley

Occupation of Quebec Education Minister's Office Calls for Education for All
Occupation of Quebec Education Minister's Office Calls for Education for All
Occupation of Quebec Education Minister's Office Calls for Education for All
Occupation of Quebec Education Minister's Office Calls for Education for All
Listen to an interview with Amy Darwish and Nicolas Quiazua, spokespeople from today's occupation of Quebec Education Minister Marie Malavoy's office, talk about why they are increasing pressure tactics in the fight for access to primary and secondary education for all Quebec children.
 
At around 10am this morning, some 40 people began an occupation of the riding offices of Quebec Education Minister Marie Malavoy in Longueuil.
 
The action was organized as part of Education For All, a campaign of Solidarity Across Borders to allow non-status children access to primary and secondary education in Quebec. They called on Minister Malavoy to issue clear regulations on access to schooling for non-status youth, and guarantee their access as of January 2014.
 
Currently, children must provide proof of status in order to obtain a permanent code, without which they cannot access the public education system for free. In those cases, children either do not attend school or face a bill of $6000 per year. Organizers say that the sum in prohibitive for many migrant and non-status families, and that these children they should have the same access to education as other youth in Quebec.
 
The campaign began over a year ago, and has included petitions, visits to school board meetings and pickets and protests. In late summer, just as the school year was beginning, the Malavoy issued new directives that opened the door for access for non-status youth, but the new rules have been described as unclear and imprecise, leading to continued confusion and to students being turned away.
 
In an interview, Education For All spokesperson Amy Darwish said it is within the power of the Minister to immediately issue new, clear directives to school boards that would allow these youth access to education starting with the January 2014 semester.
 
Other Canadian cities, like Toronto, already have a don't ask don't tell policy around the status of students, and there is no reason it cannot happen here, said Darwish. And such rules are common-place in the United States and the UK.
 
Office employees quickly asked protesters to leave the office. When they refused, the police were called. Up to 20 police cars (at least one unmarked) arrived on the scene for the demonstration of approximately 50 people (including those inside and supporters outside). Occupiers remained in good spirits, saying they would stay until their demands were met. Eventually, around 1:30pm, 20 riot police entered the offices, and protesters left one by one, ending the occupation. No arrests were made. Outside, protesters cheered and declared victory, chanting, "Ce n'est qu'un début, continuons le combat!" (This is just the beginning, keep up the fight!).
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Tim McSorley (Tim McSorley)
Montreal
Member since October 2008

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