June 16th, 2024

ULFA rallies at city hall

By Lethbridge Herald on March 19, 2022.

Herald photo by Al Beeber A crowd of faculty and supporters listen to speakers at the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association community rally Friday at city hall.

Al Beeber – Lethbridge Herald

Professor Christopher Burton raised the memory of a 1968 rally in support of the University of Lethbridge at City Hall on Friday as striking members of the faculty association staged another one – to show appreciation for community support.

On May 18, 1968, after the university’s first convocation ceremony at Southminster United Church, more than 500 faculty, students and residents staged a protest march to show their support for the proposed westside site where the U of L now stands.

The university’s first home was on the campus of what was known as Lethbridge Junior College but in September 1969 ground was broken for the new U of L campus.

On Friday, hundreds of U of L faculty and community residents turned up at City Hall to listen to speeches supporting the university and its importance to the city.

Speakers included NDP MLA for Lethbridge West Shannon Phillips and Edmonton MPs Heather McPherson and Blake Desjarlais who all sparked roars of support with their impassioned speeches from the top step of City Hall.

“Way back in 1968, the university was much much smaller but there was another march. . . and another rally downtown, the march for autonomy,” said Burton, vice-president of the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association.

“In this march in 1968, the university faculty and the local community came together against a provincial government that was over-reaching itself, that was not respecting the university or the community,” he recalled.

“It might sound a little familiar. The 1968 march succeeded, the university was saved. If it hadn’t succeeded, who knows what would have happened but it would not have been good. So we marched in 1968 to save the university and it worked,” he said.

Over the ensuing decades, the U of L and community have had a close relationship, Burton said.

McPherson said she stood in solidarity with faculty to “fight as hard as we can to protect our post-secondary institutions across this province. We know what we need going forward; we need a strong province with a diversified economy with a strong post-secondary education system so that young people want to stay in our communities, want to stay in our province. The UCP government has been going in the absolute wrong direction on this and we need to fight back as Albertans,” she said to cheers.

McPherson, the NDP MP for Edmonton Strathcona, said next week she will be tabling a post-secondary education bill calling for all the funds that go to post-secondary education to be directed to post-secondary.

“It will pull out the post-secondary money out of that transfer payment and make sure that money’s spent on post-secondary education, on teachers, on staff, on students,” McPherson said.

Desjarlais, the NDP critic for post-secondary education who represents the riding of Edmonton Griesbach told the crowd “post-secondary institutions across Canada have learned so much from Alberta. We’re a province with some of the best educators and some of the best faculty seen anywhere in the world right here in Alberta.

“But it’s under attack. Something is so precious and so integral to our province is being directly attacked by this UCP government. It has to end.

“We have to protect our institutions now because we have to draw the line somewhere,” he said.

In her address, Phillips said she wanted to “acknowledge the hard work and the solidarity first of all of all the ULFA membership who have been walking the picket line for weeks now and staying together in solidarity both with the community, students, the broader labour movement. The lessons that have been taught and learned over the past few weeks are the lessons of active citizenship and the lessons that are foundational to a democracy in a time when we could not need it more.”

‘We need those bonds of solidarity, we need people who understand their responsibilities to speak out not just for themselves but for others,” Phillips added.

She said “when it comes time to stand up for each other we creatively problem solve.”

Phillips told the crowd people who have stayed in the city are rooted in what happens at the U of L including the arts.

“Those are the reasons why this institution is so important to us and why I am so very irritated by the $600 million in cuts that have rained down into this community and tried to tear us apart, why I am so irritated by administration who have taken the side of the UCP government and driven wedges between neighbours in this community,” Phillips said to applause.

She said she knows “when return-to-work protocols are all agreed upon and all the dust settles that this place will be stronger for the bonds you have created using the energy and inspiration and history of the labour movement as your guide.”

Phillips told the crowd the labour movement is here for them adding she came out of the Alberta Federation of Labour.

“You are part of a movement and a family in a democracy and we take care of each other.”

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I see ” 300 vote” Shannon is at it again. Using phrases such as ” tearing us apart” and ” driving wedges ” is rich…check the cover of the manual in which you find these tactics Shannon,,,it is the NDP playbook !

I wonder if she has done the math : voting support of the unionized strikers [ which she had in any event ] vs loss of support from the students who are cooling thier heels and their parents who are in some cases footing the bills and who will percieve her as prolonging this “strike” .

Keep bussing in your NDP Edmomnton shills Shannon. “300” is a small margin and I see it shrinking fast !!

old school

I hope they had a permit !