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Quebec Student Activists Respond to 'Open Letter to the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS)' - June 2, 2012

Quebec Student Activists Respond to 'Open Letter to the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS)' - June 2, 2012

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Campus Notes's blog
CAMPUS NOTES
Some of the most exciting thinking and doing in Canada is taking placeat the country's colleges and universities, where young people of different backgrounds, interests and politics come together to debateand learn about our world. At Campus Notes, we look to these brightyoung minds to inform the debate on domestic and international events. CampusNotes also gives students a chance to inform the rest of Canada about what'shappening in the classrooms, dorm rooms, and student unions of our country'shigher learning institutions. The blog includes young voices involved in social justiceand activism from universities and colleges across Canada through once weeklyposts which highlight events, activism, and topics of concern. Professors anduniversity staff are also invited to write for the blog. Please contact
theresa@rabble.ca
to contribute or for more information about the blog.
Quebec student activists respond to 'Openletter to the CFS'
BY
CAMPUS NOTES
 
|
JUNE 2, 2012
 
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The following is a response to 
Activist Communique: Open Letter to the Canadian Federation of Student
, which was published on May 18 on 
krystalline kraus's blog 
.The letter called for the CFS to "engage in a consistent and serious mobilizing effort to bring the Quebec student movement to the rest of Canada." 
 
Open Letter to the CFS: A Response from Quebec Activists
 
We write as student activists in Québec who have been involved in organizing the
2011-2012 general student strike - on both anglophone and francophone campuses.We are ecstatic to hear that so many students in the rest of Canada are building acampaign to mobilize similar strikes in Ontario and elsewhere. We are heartened by theoutpouring of solidarity, and we believe that the best way that students outside
Québec can join the movement is by mobilizing strikes from the ground up in their own
communities.
Open Letter to the CFS 
assumes that strikes can be organized by
 “
elected studentleaders
” 
and masterminded provincially, if not nationally. Certainly, the Federation canand must support strike initiatives. However, these have to be built from the ground upand through structures of direct democracy - specifically, general assemblies which arefully empowered to make real decisions. This is something that we have learned again
and again in Québec, and this method of organizing has consistently proven to be the
only way to build viable strike movements. Students feel a sense of ownership overmovements created this way, which cannot be undermined by claims of a minorityimposing their will on a majority.Strike campaigns or votes must not be imposed by student federations, or evenindividual unions. They must be organized by activists on the ground and discussed inregular general assemblies to involve the broader student body. Strategically,organizing strikes first where they
’ 
re most likely to succeed - in traditionally progressivedepartmental unions rather than faculty or campus unions - will ensure the kind of momentum-building that could lead to a general strike of Ontario students.
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There are, however, a number of things that the Federation can and must do to supporta general strike movement. Educational campaigns, facilitating solidarity delegations,workshops, and activist exchanges are extremely important, even if they do not replacelocally-focused campaigns. Perhaps most importantly, the CFS could facilitate thecreation or mobilization of politically autonomous departmental associations, whichbarely exist on many anglophone campuses. In fact, the first unlimited strikes in thehistory of McGill and Concordia Universities were organized mainly in previously dormantdepartmental unions.The formation of mobilized, combative departmental unions built upon structures of 
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http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/campus-notes/2012/06/student-activists-respond-open-letter-cfs Page 1 / 3
 
direct democracy needs to be seen as a consequence of strike campaigns, not anecessary precondition without which activists
’ 
hands are tied. There is always a wayforward.We are optimistic that a general student strike in Ontario can and will succeed, giventhe right ingredients.
Open Letter to the CFS 
represents a first step towards creating aradical, democratic strike movement in Ontario and beyond. As we watch students laythe foundations for powerful strike movements across the country, we hope we cancontinue to share our experience in Quebec - both successes and failures.1. Jamie Burnett - former member of the Board of Directors of the Students
’ 
Society of McGill University (SSMU)
2. Jérémie Bédard
-Wien - Coalition Large de l
’Association pour une Solidarité SyndicaleÉtudiante (CLASSE)
 3. Kevin Paul - former Political Campaigns Coordinator, Students
’ 
Society of McGillUniversity (SSMU)4. Christopher Bangs - Strike Organizer, Students
’ 
Society of McGill University (SSMU)5. Zachary Rosentzveig - Councillor, Students
’ 
Society of McGill University (SSMU) & Co-President, NDP McGill6. Irmak Bahar - Concordia University5. Robin Reid-Fraser - Vice-President External 2012-2013, Students' Society of McGillUniversity (SSMU)8. Mathieu Murphy-Perron - Staff, Dawson Student Union (DSU), Local 108, CanadianFederation of Students9. Ethan Feldman - McGill Philosophy Strike Organizer, Victim of Police Brutality
10. Kenevin Søraynr Parent. Local 108. Dawson Student Union
 
11. Léo Fugazza
- Dawson Student Union, 2011-2012 Director of Internal Affairs & Advocacy. Local 108, Canadian Federation of Students.12. Kayla Christos, Director of Clubs and Services, Dawson Student Union.13. Xavier Lafrance. York University. Local 84, CFS.14. Nicholas Di Penna, incoming Director of external affairs. Local 108 Dawson StudentUnion15. Audrey Deveault - Dawson Student Union, Chairperson. Local 108, CanadianFederation of Students16. Fatima Santin- Dawson Student Union. Incoming Director of Student Life. Local 10817. Gabrielle Brais Harvey - Fine Arts Student Alliance-Concordia.18. Alexis Blanchard-
Méthot
-
Société Générale des Étudiants et Étudiantes du Cégepde Maisoneuve (SOGÉÉCOM), Association pour une Solidarité Syndicale Étudiante (ASSÉ)
 19. Laura Dolan, McGill University, OSMC20. Rushdia Mehreen, Strike organizer, Concordia University; Coalition Large del
’Association pour une Solidarité Syndicale Étudiante (CLASSE)
 21. Farah Noun, Dawson Student Union. Local 108, Canadian Federation of Students22. Marianne Breton Fontaine, AFESH UQAM23. Agatha Slupek - Steward at A.M.U.S.E, Student at McGill University24. Eleanor Foulkes - BA 2012, McGill25. John-Erik Hansson, McGill Alumnus, Outreach worker at Association of McGillUniversity Support Employees (AMUSE).26. Sunch Av Sunci Avlijas - Strike organizer, McGill University graduate student;Mobilization Officer on the Executive Committee of the Association of Graduate StudentsEmployed at McGill (AGSEM) TA Unit 2012/201327. Amber Gross, former Political Campaigns Coordinator, Students' Society of McGillUniversity (SSMU); Labour Relations Officer, Association of McGill University SupportEmployees (AMUSE-PSAC); member of the Board of Directors of the Quebec PublicInterest Research Group at McGill (QPIRG-McGill)
http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/campus-notes/2012/06/student-activists-respond-open-letter-cfs Page 2 / 3

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