Protests staged across the country during Student Week of Action

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By Ian Ferguson

The sounds of protest filled university campuses across the country last week as the Canadian Federation of Students led a nationwide Pan-Canadian Days of Action.

The protests served as a forum to air the CFS’ demands — freeze tuition, change the Millennium Scholarship from a series of loans to cash grants, and change the bankruptcy legislation.

Here’s a look at how students got their message out:

In British Columbia, students made postcards mocking Prime Minister Jean Chretien and Finance Minister Paul Martin.  Pickets were also set up outside the offices of members of Parliament.

Saskatchewan’s university students rallied at the provincial legislature and put on a craft and art show.

At the University of Winnipeg, a funeral procession was staged.  Students hoisted a coffin through the city’s financial district, protesting the death of affordable education in Manitoba.  Then, 60 students occupied the federal loans building on campus.  The sit-in lasted seven hours, representing the $7 billion cuts made to transfer payments paid to provinces by the federal government.  Forty-five students stayed in the building until 9 p.m.  “Some people played guitar,” said Chad Samain, Manitoba’s executive rep for the CFS.

At the University of Prince Edward Island, students built a coffin and used it to collect stories of student debt and financial woes.  They plan to present the coffin to provincial and federal government officials.

The CFS feels the nationwide protests were a success.  “[They] got the word out … that the education budget is not everything the government says it is,” said Jennifer Story, the CFS deputy chair.  “What we’re doing in protests is educating the media and the public as to what is going on.”

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