Protesters form human chains outside EMSB schools
Published Wednesday, May 15, 2019 8:21AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, May 16, 2019 7:12AM EDT
Protesters clapped hands and chanted Wednesday morning in an effort to prevent the provincial education minister from taking three English schools and giving them to a French board.
Last week Education Minister Jean-Francois Roberge said he would use executive powers to transfer General Vanier, Gerald McShane, and John Paul I from the English Montreal School Board to the Commission Scolaire de Pointe de L'Ile.
Demonstrators like Frank Sianciullu said the move would tear apart a community.
"My children came here 30 years ago. Now my grandchildren -- I have three grandchildren, a fourth one to come next year -- they're going to be scattered all over the place. We don't know where," said Sianciulli.
The transfer of the three schools would give the French board 65 classes which is supposedly enough for 3,000 students.
The EMSB had suggested that Galileo school -- which has room for 60 classes -- be transferred instead since just 140 adult education students use that building, but Roberge said he did not want to transfer those "vulnerable" adults, and would rather make hundreds of anglophone children swap schools.
Micke Nelli said there are now many, many anxious children at those schools.
"There's a lot of kids that have anxieties and they're scared because they don't want to leave our territory. It's a family member," said Nelli.
Outside General Vanier school, Laura Zuanigh suggested Roberge rethink his ultimatum.
"We're out there. We exist. We're not just a community with no colours. We're here show that we also have a voice. That our kids also have a right to an education. A proper education in the language of their choice," she said.
Many possible solutions
The provincial minister has asked the EMSB to think outside the box to prevent the transfer of the three schools.
Many parents who spoke to CTV News said the two boards could share the three schools.
The Pointe de l'Ile School Board said that plan was complicated and not its preference
Meanwhile some parents are suggesting the ministry trade Lester B. Pearson High for a French school in R.D.P to gain 1000 spaces for French students.
Students say all they want to do is stay together.
"It's heartbreaking because I've been with my friends for a very long time and all I really want is to graduate with them," said Eva Marra.
Parents understand that love and say they will do whatever it takes to stop this transfer.
"I'm willing to go until court. If we have to I will go," said Nelli.
Zuanigh said "We need to show our kids also that we need to stand for what we believe in. Doesn't matter how small you are. If you have a principle to fight for, you need to fight for it."
The EMSB plans to discuss the Galileo option some more and present another version of the plan to the Ministry.
Roberge said a final decision must be made by June 10.