For weeks the post-secondary students in Montreal have been fighting to save the present location of the Montreal Cree School Board office.
The Cree entities based in the city have all been asked to move into a new building purchased by the Crees in Old Montreal.
All agree that the Lamborghini Building is a beautiful office, but the remote location in a desolate industrial area has students worried. Women especially say that the location is too isolated and makes them concerned for their security.
In a survey last April, 90 per cent of the students said they were against the move.
On September 18, a group of students held a protest march to the Cree building on Duke St. After a tour of the building, the students joined a meeting of the Commissioners of the School Board in progress to voice their concerns.
While not on the agenda at the Commissioners’ meeting, the students got their say. Their appeal would be the last one possible as renovations are scheduled to start at the end of September. Many students were frustrated when the Commissioners stuck by their decision to move into the new building.
Luke MacLeod, Chairman of the School Board when the decision to move was made, said the students have been heard but that the decision will stand.
“The Council of Commissioners are the ones given the mandate to decide. It wasn’t that they didn’t look at the concerns of the students,” he said.
“People when they question decisions made by Council, I think then they question the people’s choice. In a sense, they question their own people.”
MacLeod said students will have a bus service to bring them to a convenient metro station. They will also have a chance to plan the design and services of the new office, and will have a daycare service for their kids.
But the students still have concerns. Stella Lameboy, a spokesperson for the students, said when she first came to college in Montreal at 16, she relied a lot on the Cree School Board office as a place to be with other Crees and get support.
Now that it will be so far away from where most students live and their schools, they will feel more isolated, she said.
“The homesickness was overwhelming, coming from a small community to a big city. There was a lot of culture shock and the office helped a lot. I’m a university student now but I still depend on it greatly. Montreal is a very cold and lonely place.”
Lameboy said the move could affect the success rate of Cree students, especially since many rely on the computers and library in the office to complete assignments.
Kathy Shecapio, another student spokesperson, said students often stay at the office until 4 a.m. working on the computers. “Not all our parents are rich and can buy us computers,” she said. The current office is downtown where most students live and near their schools.
Once it moves to Old Montreal, female students especially will feel unsafe coming home late at night, she said.
“We would love to take the Commissioners one by one and walk them through the area—not drive there. I don’t think they would send their kids there.”