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:
Join us for the Toronto premiere of INSURGENCE! A collective interpretation of Quebec's Maple Spring, this super-charged doc will have you reaching for your red square and gas mask. Filmmakers from Groupe d'action en cinéma Épopée will be in attendance and entry by donation!
Insurgence is a documentary about the vast social mobilization that took place in Quebec during the spring of 2012. Initially propelled by the student strike for accessible education, the scope of the movement soon broadened to take on the government, the impunity and violence of the Montreal police force, the exploitation of untapped natural resources, and the current economic system.
Quebec's 2012 student uprising highlights a long history of social activism that continues to shape politics in both Quebec and Canada. Beyond simplistic nationalist notions, grassroots movements in Quebec have long organized with an internationalist spirit rooted in decolonization and social transformation.
The Montreal lawyer who has become synonymous with the fight against police repression during last spring's student strike in Quebec is facing a whole new battle.
In early July, Denis Poitras declared personal bankruptcy. He was immediately disbarred, as per the rules of the Barreau du Québec, the province's professional organisation for lawyers.
He is now working to regain the right to practice the work that he loves. He isn't doing it alone though: on August 5, a fundraising and support campaign was launched to help him raise the money needed to get him out of bankruptcy and back to work.
As major demonstrations in Egypt call on President Mohamed Morsi to step-down, hundreds held a festive solidarity rally in downtown Montréal.
Continents away from the sustaining protests in Tahrir Square, people responding on the streets of Montréal illustrate both the global reach and political importance of Egypt's evolving popular revolution.
Le fond de l’air est rouge is a collection of texts about the 2012 Quebec student uprising by Montreal artist and activist Stefan Christoff. Written between spring 2011 and summer 2012, this series of articles includes first hand accounts of the incredible street protests in Montreal and reflections on the student strike within the context of Quebec revolutionary history. Published by the Howl! arts collective, this zine brings movement-based reporting originally published online into a physical format. The goal of this zine is to create a piece of cultural documentation on a key moment in Quebec popular history.