Belle Province Back-to-School

Sometimes it's the little differences that throw us off, such as our children starting school on August 26 instead of the day after Labour Day. Then there are the other not-so-subtle differences, such as having to pay for your child's school supplies (Grade 3, $45.00), textbooks ($75.00) and school day trips ($30.00) all at the beginning of the year. For those of you who, like me, grew up with school supplies provided by a Board of Education, this may seem unfair. After all, isn't that what our school taxes are for? Then consider this: I pay $1,600 a year (Yes, a year) for an after-school program from 4:00 until 6:00 pm weekdays. Both the $7.00 a-day daycare and after-school programs show that Quebec is ahead of the rest of the country when it comes to families.

Does your child go back to school after Labour Day? Do you have to pay for your child's school supplies? How much does your after-school program cost?

Here's another difference. Take a look at the top left picture, which I took last week in front of my daughter's school. The students (I've blurred their faces) have made placards and are reminding drivers to slow down on Laurier Avenue, the busy street in front of their school. They are chanting the slogan "C'est la rentrée. Ralentissez!" or Slow down! We're back at school. You'll also notice two Montreal policemen in the picture, as well as a parent and a teacher who are standing by. In fact, I was on the other side of the street next to a cop in uniform who was also taking pictures of this mini-demonstration.

Demonstrating or protesting is our right and a sign of a healthy democracy. I'm pleased to see that the children at my daughter's school are being taught the importance of exercising this right. Not only are the students given time to demonstrate (the morning bell has already rung), but they are also backed by the school and police force. Protesting for change is a worthy lesson for children, and a good way to remind area motorists that "We're all late for work!"

Although my view is not shared by everyone, particularly the forces of order at this summer's G20, I think that protests are a useful way to raise awareness and effect change. You'll recall that earlier this summer, I wrote about a group of seniors who were protesting the closure of a borough street for an open-air market, and I was surprised by how organized they were. Not only did they have their placards ready, but they were also handing out leaflets with their laundry list of arguments.

Peaceful demonstration is alive and well in Quebec! Thank goodness.

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John-WArd Leighton | September 7, 2010 at 10:05 AM

Here on the wet coast we have a healthy respect for what I call people action, protests, sit ins, petitions, letter writing campaigns. I bring attention to the HST petition that will bring a government down who isn't listening to the governed.

I had begun to doubt the effectiveness of protests after the headlong progress to war in IRAQ when ten million of us world wide hit the streets to protest going to war. The tame mass media probably deliberately under estimated the size of the protest preferring to cheer lead for the status quo.

Children should learn from history, SILENCE IS COMPLICITY,


Maddy | September 7, 2010 at 10:22 AM

Wait til they hit CEGEP ... it only costs about $125 a session, but the books come to over $1,000 a year.

Heather | September 7, 2010 at 11:29 AM

Wow! I guess someone will have to get a summer job, and it won't be me. For my readers, CEGEP is junior college here in Quebec.

SSecord | September 7, 2010 at 3:50 PM

The figures you cite are truly just the beginning. The advantage, of course, is that we do get a much, much cheaper postsecondary education here. Flabbergastingly so. I look forward to cashing in my well-earned credits very soon... ;-)

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