In early 2012, student activists, organized through CLASSE, descended upon Cégep Valleyfield. The campus, just West of Montréal, was not known to be a hotbed of progressive activism. It was, however, the site of the first strike vote that would cascade into more than 300,000 Québec students protesting a tuition fee hike by striking from their classes.
The stakes were high and momentum was critical: If Valleyfield students voted against the strike, it would likely mean more failed votes at the cégeps that followed. The Maple Spring hinged on Valleyfield.
CLASSE spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois delivered an impassioned speech that he hoped would tip the balance towards a successful strike vote: