Dawson students show solidarity against Bill C-391
By: Melina Giubilaro
The Dawson Student Union (DSU) organized a trip to Ottawa to protest Bill C-391, a bill abolishing gun registry for shotguns and rifles last Wednesday.
Approximately 25 students and one teacher accompanied the DSU to express their united opposition against law 391.
“We’re here to show politicians that it’s important for Dawson students since we’ve been victims and we don’t want it to happen again,” Shannon Gittens, DSU Director of External Affairs said. “What if one of your daughters was the next Anastasia, it affects a lot more people than they think.”
During the two hour bus ride, Vijay Krishnan, DSU Student Life Coordinator, handed out white t-shirts on which was written: “This is what democracy looks like.” Once in Ottawa, Dawson students were given flowers and several held posters as everyone walked from the University of Ottawa to the Parliament Hill.
Everyone was told not to protest by singing or screaming while walking to Parliament Hill. Walking as a group, Dawson students held flowers commemorating all the victims of the Dawson shooting.
“None of the students who are present today witnessed the shooting,” Michaël Lessard, DSU Treasurer said. “However, it’s something you can still feel while walking in Dawson.”
The Dawson group was welcomed by Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe, former Liberal leader and current MP for Saint-Laurent–Cartierville Stephane Dion, NDP MP Paul Dewar, Coalition for Gun Control President Wendy Cukier, and Westmount-Ville Marie MP Marc Garneau.
Duceppe explained that all the members of each party must not only say they want to vote but have to show up to express their solidarity.
“While I was in committee, and heard the victims of École Polytechnique and the victims of Dawson College come forward, I’d say they shouldn’t have to fight this battle alone,” said Dion. “Tonight is about winning in the broader contest, about not having to face this issue again.”
Dewar announced that the gun registry would be saved that night but what was important was to change the way politics are done. The main focus was to strengthen gun control, continue to unite our country and to stand for fairness and justice.
“We came here to show that we’re here and that we want the registry, we’re trying to send a clear message to Harper. Abolishing the registry only means insulting the victims at Polytechnique and the victims at Dawson,” Lessard said.
Once the rally was over, Dawson students were asked to drop the flowers at the door of Parliament symbolizing peace and hope for public security in Canada.
“It’s an impressive turn out. Something will happen even though it might take long. We’ll do the fight because it’s for our students,” Gittens said. “The DSU will continue to plan things so that our union feels safe and to support Dawson students.”
The students who participated missed a day of class but will get academic amnesty from their teachers for supporting the matter.
“I didn’t know what was going to happen. We were the only ones who came and the gravity and gesture comes out even louder if you’re the only ones present,” Ursula Misztal, English Literature teacher said. “I feel like I was involved in something really real. The whole event was amazingly well put.”
Prime Minister Stephan Harper and MP Candice Hoeppner failed in their efforts to kill the long gun registry. The registry stays intact with 153 in favour and 151 against.