Natasha Lennard: American protesters should be inspired by the Quebec student strike

American protesters should be inspired by the Quebec student strike
Natasha Lennard, Fusion, March 23, 2015

I haven’t thought much about Quebec since 2012. That spring, the longest student strike in Quebec history lasted over 100 days and drew as many as 300,000 people on to the streets of Montreal, bringing the city to a near-nightly standstill. From New York, activists looked on impressed, if a little envious of the powerful “manifencours” (street demos).

In our hundreds, we staged unremarkable marches in Manhattan, pinning little red felt squares to our clothes and bashing pots and pans, a la Quebecoise. The strike ended (with considerable wins for the students), the streets of Montreal quietened, and Quebec drifted out of the U.S. protest imaginary. Nearly three years later, it may be time to return our gaze Northwards. The students of Quebec strike again.

On Monday, more than 50,000 students officially went on strike, with at least 25 student associations voting to do so from six universities. In the coming week, associations representing over 100,000 students are set to hold strike votes. As in 2012, workers unions are lending support, and at least a week of major protests is planned. No such collective student mobilization seems possible in the U.S., where the idea of student organizations empowered to call mass collective strikes feels a world, not a border, away.

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