More than 100 join Sudbury car rally to save Laurentian University
SUDBURY -- Well over 100 people from the Laurentian University community came out in force on Sunday afternoon, braving the elements, to send a message to Ontario government and Premier Doug Ford.
They're calling on the province to do more in hopes of saving the institution, which is currently under creditor protection, from drastic cuts.
"We support our university in the north and as a professor at Laurentian University, I am concerned about the sustainability and support, especially financial support of Laurentian," said Yovita Gwekwerere, an associate professor in Laurentian's school of education.
Most of the vehicles in the car rally carried flags that showed their support of the Laurentian University Faculty Association (LUFA).
The protestors met at Sudbury MPP Jamie West's (NDP) Barrydowne Road office before moving to the campus and ending near Bell Park.
"Well, I think it's important for the population - supporters and students, faculty members - to show their determination and resolve to try and resist the potential dismantling of Laurentian University," said Jean-Charles Cachon, a professor and executive member of LUFA.
Many at the rally stayed in their cars, keeping warm, as the area was pelted with a mix of snow and rain.
"Our kids went to daycare there, they swam there and they skied there, it's been a really important part of our community and so we're big supporters of the university," supporter Darlene Zylberberg said from her vehicle.
The Ford government has recently told media it is working to help Laurentian University behind the scenes but couldn't elaborate because the matter is currently before the courts.
The area's two MPPs said that's not exactly true, the province could be doing more.
"The government needs to step in. We're the cushion of funding to prevent those drastic cuts and then they can focus now on what's going on in Laurentian so we don't have this type of situation again," West said.
"The government is not involved whatsoever. They just put out COVID money for the university. They realized universities were impacted by COVID and put out money, none of this - ZERO - went to Laurentian," Nickel Belt MPP France Gelinas (NDP) said.
The mood around the campus has been tense lately as many staff wait to see what is going to be happening as the school tries to restructure.
"It's hard not knowing what's going to happen and feeling like we're not in any way consulted or part of the process. A university is about teaching students - people who are teaching the students should have some input as to what happens," said Aven McMaster, an assistant professor of ancient studies at Laurentian University.
In the meantime, organizers said they plan to keep raising awareness about the issue that they feel could drastically impact the city's economy, if not handled properly.