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Yesterday, a group of us from UNB rallied with thousands in Edmundston to protest the PSE report recommendations. The Liberals are holding a meeting there this weekend. The Francophones sure know how to put on a great rally complete with noisemakers and professionally-made signs galore. Perhaps my photos below can give you a sense of what it was like.
Before getting to Edmundston, we stopped in Fredericton first to pick up a few people. Since we had plenty of space on the bus, we tried to recruit more students from the Student Union (SU) building.
The people of Edmundston were very happy to have our support.
Many banners and signs declared, “The North isn’t dead”, making reference to earlier comments to the media by Jacques L’Ecuyer who said the “north is dead” if they didn’t reform the higher education system. I didn’t see any signs of a dying community yesterday in Edmundston, so perhaps the “north” that L’Ecuyer was referring to is somewhere further north, in Quebec, where he makes his home.
A cross-section of the entire Edmunston community came out to show their support, including grandmothers, parents, students and small children who carried signs or wore shirts with the year when they plan to graduate from their small town university campus. The northern Université de Moncton campuses are fairly small, but the Edmundston one does offer complete programs.
From where I could see from my position at the front, the line of people just seemed to continue forever.
The crowd made lots of noise as it passed through downtown Edmundston.
Our English signs are visible everywhere among a sea of French signs.
Following the speeches outside the building where the Liberals were meeting, everyone was encouraged to leave their signs in a big pile on the steps. Perhaps this was a gesture initiated by some local sign making company, as it is very possible that everyone will need new signs if there’s another rally.
Dr. Ed didn’t give a speech, but he did make his way through the crowd as it began to disperse. I don’t think the majority of francophones recognize who he is, otherwise they might have confronted him. I heard him say “good luck” in French to a few people, perhaps referring to the likelihood that we will convince him to do the right thing, and guarantee institutions that are more than just a “university” name only.
After the rally, Team UNB went to a restaurant for supper at a Vietnamese place. I am pictured here with the 3 other students. After that, it was a nice long bus ride back to Saint John.
In my next post, I’ll resume my analysis of the facts and figures.