“A New Chapter”
CLASSE Rallies Following Summer Tour
The Coalition large de l’Association pour une Solidarité Syndicale Étudiante may have lost their iconic frontman last week, but the rally and concert they hosted at Olympia on Aug. 11 served to kickstart a new chapter in the student movement.
Local musicians and student leaders kept the crowd of over a thousand chanting and cheering well into the night.
A lineup of speakers were received with rapt attention, delivering short presentations on topics ranging from police brutality to feminism.
When recently-resigned Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois stepped on stage to deliver his final speech as CLASSE spokesperson, he could barely finish a sentence without being interrupted by familiar protest chants. He had planned to speak about democracy but instead spoke about what he considers its opposite.
“Corruption is an inevitable result of our broken system,” said Nadeau-Dubois, who continued into a vicious criticism of capitalism in Quebec. His speech ended on a note of encouragement for students.
“Democracy is still alive, we’ve seen that this spring,” said Nadeau-Dubois. “We’re now just at the beginning.”
He left the stage to a warm embrace from the familiar furry protester Anarcho-Panda, and a standing ovation from the audience.
Nadeau-Dubois abstained from giving media interviews throughout the evening, but backstage, Jeremie Bedard-Wien, finance secretary for CLASSE, shed some light on what the organizers have been doing over the summer while demonstrations in Montreal died down.
“This evening was meant to mark the start of a new chapter for us in this struggle for free education, against tuition hikes […],” he said. “We did a series of tours in Quebec, we visited many regions. This is pretty much the end of that tour, finishing off with a huge event in Montreal, and it’s paid off.”
The night’s musical guests performed sets of three to four songs scattered among fervent political speeches by CLASSE representatives and supporters. Les Zapartistes, 12 hommes rapailles, Mise en demeure, Ivy and Dan Bigras performed proudly in support of the student movement.
“[My three songs] were really nothing in comparison to what all the kids have done and the people that went into the street and got hurt, got beat on, day after day, night after night,” said Bigras.
A prominent name in Quebec folk, Bigras was there to fight for a cause.
“There is no reason that a man cannot send his son to school if he works in a shop, but his boss can,” he said. “We’re going to fight that to the death.”
CLASSE organizers are encouraging students to continue to strike in the fall, and are now mobilizing for what they hope will be an enormous demonstration on August 22.
CEGEPs across Quebec are scheduled to begin resuming classes this week.
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