Student leaders convene at parliament
Post-secondary talks in Ottawa with student and federal leaders target access for all
By Amy Tucker, News Editor
Throughout the week of Nov. 14, students association leaders met together at the nation’s capital to discuss ways to further improve Canada’s post-secondary education system.
The event, held by Canadian Alliance for Student Associations (CASA), presented students the opportunity to meet with over 140 of the country’s top leaders. Students were also encouraged to attest the student perspective on post-secondary issues.
“This year, student leaders want to make sure that no student in need is left unsupported and that all students can access an innovative education to help them succeed later on,” says John Rix, CASA Board Chair and UPEI Student Union VP.
Student assistance received a major boost in the previous year through expansion of the Canada Students Grant Program and increased access to repayment assistance.
“Our vision for post-secondary education is that it should be inclusive of all diverse Canadians and provide innovative learning opportunities for students.” says Rix.
CASA is a not-for-profit, non-partisan student organization composed of 21 student associations representing 250,000 post-secondary students from coast to coast. Their aim is to advocate for high-quality and accessible post-secondary education.
Recommendations by students this year included:
Increasing support of First Nations students to address the loan repayment grace period to reflect the current job market, utilizing open-educational resources to cut down on teacher prep time and student textbook prices and increasing the number of paid experiential learning opportunities, such as co-ops, internships, and apprenticeships.
“The recommendations we are bringing forward this week provide a means for government to turn this vision into a reality,” added Rix.
Participants had the chance to take part in a blanket ceremony, an indigenous tradition which uses blankets to visually tell Canada’s history through the eyes of Canada’s First Nations.
The idea of the ceremony is to trace the history of the relationship between settlers and Indigenous peoples in Canada as well as bring light to the ongoing colonialism and Indigenous people’s resilience.
Both Mount Royal University Student Association (SAMRU) president Shifah Gadamsetti and University of Calgary Students’ Union (U of C SU) president Stephan Guscott attended the event in Ottawa.
To learn more about the recommendations that students are bringing to Parliament Hill this week, please refer to our Advocacy Week publication.
To see student leaders in action throughout Advocacy Week, follow them on Twitter @casadaily.