By Sarah Krichel
Hundreds of students and activists marched to Queen’s Park today with the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) protesting tuition fees.
The National Day of Action took place in 30 different cities, following the petition delivered to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. The petition had 40,000 signatures.
“We need to simultaneously address student debt and quality of education,” said Gayle McFadden, national executive representative for the CFS-Ontario (CFS-O) during her speech at the Queen’s Park rally. “We need access for marginalized students and workers’ rights. We need treaty rights for First Nation, Metis and Inuit students, and fairness for international students.”
The march started with around 100 people on Ryerson campus, with students gathered from Brock University, York University, Geulph University and George Brown College. As the march got started, more joined the crowd and ‘Fight the Fees’ signs were handed out.
“We’re really excited at the amount of support that we got, not just from students, but from people from labour and community came out to support our call for free education,” said Rajean Hoilet, CFS-O spokesperson.
The crowd sung chants such as “tuition fees have got to go,” and “these fees are way too high you need to cut it.”
Other advocates spoke to the crowd at Queen’s Park campaigning for free education and elimination of student debt. Some of the spokespeople included Ryan Culpepper (representative of the Ontario University Workers Coordinating Committee), Ahmad Gaied (executive vice president of the Ontario Federation of Labour) as well as various students of post-secondary and high school.
Groups such as the Continuing Education Students’ Association of Ryerson (CESAR) and the Black Liberation Collective helped to lead the march.
The list of demands in the petition includes a reduction and elimination of tuition fees for all students (including part-time and international), conversion of student loans into non-repayable grants and the elimination of interest on student loans.
Hoilet said that the next step is directing the discourse to individual members of provincial parliament.
“We’re going to continue to take action and continue to escalate our tactics until this government feels the pressure enough, not just from students, but from the broader public around needing to do better to ensure access to post-secondary education,” Hoilet said.
Here’s a gallery of The Eyeopener’s photos from the event.