By Gioia Cazzaniga
Originally published on March 26, 2015
See original French text here: http://quebec.huffingtonpost.ca/gioia-cazzaniga/lettre-a-ma-mere-pourquoi-je-fais-greve_b_6942712.html
My Dear Mother,
I know you are a bit far from here, from Montreal and the hot spot of the protest. You only have access to mainstream media, to [Education] Minister Blais who threatens students with cancelling the semester and right-wing commentators who are bent on pointing out spelling mistakes instead of listening to the message. Only if you would inform yourself a bit better, you would know we are more than 50 000 on strike, without counting the one-off strike mandates and the votes yet to come. Even medical students will take a day or two to denounce the measures of [Health] Minister Barette. Many unions also have their collective agreements ending next week and for them too, it smells strongly of protest.
It is not a question of illusions, it is not a question that only touches students. It is not like 2012. This time, it is a global political struggle.
It is to struggle to refuse to live in a country that cuts the lives of the most vulnerable to enrich those who already swallow everything, a struggle against the destruction of the environment by exploitation of resources known to be harmful. It is to struggle to ensure that children have access to education that is stimulating and diversified, with competent teachers not near burn-out. It is to refuse a certain economic vision, to refuse an austerity presented as necessary when other solutions exist, and when the IMF, which contains no angels, has denounced it as have negative impacts on the population.
I will never accept to remain quiet and sit before a government that adds to the salaries of its deputies and reduces the allocation to people with reduced mobility, same as I will never accept to let go of the social gains that those before me won through pain and misery.
You taught me to be open to the world, to question myself, to criticize what I was told. And now, maman, I am putting those lessons into practice.
I was taught that democracy means government of the people, by the people, for the people. I understand now that this is not so, neither here nor elsewhere, that when we say democracy we mean to say oligarchy, mean to say the law of the richest, the highest bidder, the most opportunistic.
But my cynicism towards the system and the world in which I am obliged to evolve does not surpass my will to change it. If I lose all faith in modern humanity and the world it has created, I have still not lost my confidence in the human capacity to meet, come together, and be in solidarity.
It is not easy to wake up from this lethargy. Thinking requires energy and above all much discomfort. To rouse a people completely demands time and lots and lots of words and patience. And if you need the youth of our province beaten with batons to realize our state is headed straight into an abyss, then I will let myself be peppered and gassed by these cops who think they are defending order, but who in fact protect an ideology.
I know that for me at least, like many of my peers who take to the streets, I am ready to throw myself head first into a struggle that may be futile, surely risky, but legitimate, against a government, an elite and a system that would like to see me silenced and blindfolded. I have soft legs, a rumbling stomach, chattering teeth and sweaty palms, but I know I am not doing this only for myself, nor for my fellow students, nor for union members.
I know I participate in this struggle because I believe in a certain vision of society, and I believe in a future less individual, more collective and more inclusive. And it is not in staying in my living room, nor in staying in my class, in signing petitions or sharing articles on Facebook that I will see the struggle advance. Certain things are won only in the streets, at the price of sacrifices.
We fight against a wall, a steamroller closed to dialogue daring to claim to represent the “Quebecois people”. Some say this is a lost cause. Maybe.
Only, maman, as long as my future and that of my peers will be sabotaged, I will continue to speak out and will not bend my spine.
Your daughter (who is surely more realistic than you think)
Translated from the original French by Language and Dissent, a collectively-run blog supporting the anti-austerity struggle in Quebec. These are amateur translations written by volunteers; we have done our best to translate these pieces fairly and coherently, but the final texts may have their flaws. If you find any important errors in any of these texts, we would be very grateful if you would share them with us via email (languageanddissent [at] gmail [dot] com). Please read and distribute these texts in the spirit in which they were intended; that of solidarity and the sharing of information.