The #redspring2015 Pan-Canadian day of action has finally arrived!
When the Revolutionary Student Movement first called for a March 2015 day of action, we had no idea how students across Canada would respond. We hoped of course that students would take up the demands we issued –for free, democratic, liberating, and anti-colonial education- and run with them. So far we have been completely blown away by the response; literally thousands of students from across Canada are mobilizing today. There are actions taking place in over a dozen locations across the entire country, from Halifax, to Montreal, to Toronto, to Saskatoon, to Kamloops. This is truly a pan-Canadian movement.
As you read this, the administration offices at uOttawa are being occupied. In Toronto, students are standing in solidarity with striking workers at York. In Sudbury, Oshawa, and Saskatoon walk-outs are occurring. Tonight, in Montreal and Quebec, there will be “Fucking Big Demonstrations” numbering in the thousands in support of the student strike in Quebec. And these are just a few of the examples of what’s going on across Canada today.
It would be clichéd to say “this is just the beginning”, but truthfully, it’s not even that. A strike of educational workers has effectively stopped ‘business-as-usual’ at York and the University of Toronto for the past month. Students in Quebec have been on strike for nearly a week now. This day of action, in addition to the events of the past month, are simply other steps in what will surely be a long struggle to achieve liberating education in Canada. But for the first time ever, in spite of conciliatory student associations in English Canada, in spite of the attacks by the state and university administrations, we are beginning to build a movement that will shake all of Canadian society to its foundations. It’s a good time to be a revolutionary student.
So what next? What direction should the momentum from the day of action take the student movement?
Three years after the biggest strike in Quebec’s history, we are conscious that the issues are complex and the student movement’s goals numerous. The immediate task is to support the student strikes, and try to spread them as widely as possible. We also encourage people to begin preparing for a possible strike in the Fall. The more militant and radical forces, including our Montreal and Quebec City chapters, are definitely leading this struggle. The FECQ and the FEUQ do not have influence within the student movement anymore, and they have only themselves to blame; their lobbysim, their bureaucratism, their numerous betrayals and their long-time relationship with the Parti Québécois are the causes of their failure. We have great expectations for this struggle; it’s a good occasion to learn and to consolidate stronger mass movements.
In Toronto, all efforts should go towards a strike victory for CUPE locals 3902 and 3903 at UofT and York. In order for the strikes to be successful there will necessarily have to be a continuation of the escalation of tactics already taking place. Striking academic workers must also continue to build cross-local solidarity, so that the current movement cannot be split.
In the rest of Canada, now more than ever the weakness of the current federal student associations (the CFS and CASA) is apparent. In the wake of a strike in Quebec, a strike in Toronto, and a day of action across Canada, even the ostensibly more “action oriented” CFS has been unable to do anything other than try to dampen initiatives in some locations. Local student associations continually fail to educate and organize students to effectively oppose increasing tuition and the austerity agenda threatening education. Thus, to overcome this barrier, we must organize a democratization of the current student movement. In student unions where general assemblies don’t exist, they should be fought for. General assemblies should be extended down to the faculty and departmental level. In places where they do exist, general assemblies should be given real decision making power and held more frequently. This will be a protracted process but it is an absolute necessity; as contradictions within high schools, colleges, and universities continue to sharpen, we will need democratic structures that will allow for future struggles. The time to start building them is now. Together we can change the face of the student movement in Canada.
Finally, we encourage students across Canada to involve themselves with the Revolutionary Student Movement. We are an anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, anti-oppressive, and anti-colonial student movement. In places where RSM chapters do exist, we encourage new members to get involved. In places where RSM chapters don’t exist, we encourage activists to get in touch with us to start new ones. Now more than ever, as austerity shows us the ugly face of capitalism, as the attack on our already limited civil liberties increases, as Indigenous peoples continue to struggle against the oppression of colonialism, it is necessary for us to get organized and to fight back.
But what’s most important is that the momentum from today is not lost, and that we continue to build a militant student movement in the weeks, months, and years to come.
See you in the streets!