Islanders rally to fight for rural education and healthcare access

Milan students manifestation on October, 4 2013

The PEI government has been proposing school and health facility closures. To protest the proposed school closure of Georgetown Elementary School, and bring attention to these issues, parents from Georgetown Home and School Association (GHSA) organized the “We are rural strong rally”.

The rally took place on February 20th. The focus of the event was on the proposed school closures, including Georgetown but also Belfast Consolidated, St. Jean Elementary, St. Louis Elementary and Bloomfield Elementary. The final decision regarding the school closures is with the PEI cabinet. The GHSA rallied to show support for keeping the schools open and improving services to the rural areas. The event also brought attention to the broader needs of rural PEI, including health care and rural services.

Mallory Peters informed CBC the purpose of the rally;

“We just want to get everybody together to say we are one island, that services need to be equal not only for us with the school fight but with health care, with ferries, with fishing, with farming.”

The Rally began with a march from Peakes Quay to the Honourable George Coles Building. A crowd of approximately 600 people gathered at the building to hear speeches from a number of people. There were speeches from Members of the Provincial Legislature: the member for Vernon River-Stratford, Alan McIssac; the member for Georgetown-St. Peters, Steven Myers; and the member for Kellys Cross-Cumberland, Peter Bevan-Baker. Mike Redmond leader of the provincial NDP also gave a speech.

Protestors at the rally told CBC: “there seems to be an awful lot of moving everything away from rural and taking it all into the city. PEI is a rural population. We need to look after our rural people.”

Other protestors commented their main reason for attending the rally was to bring more attention to rural PEI and for the government to consult with rural residents when making these decisions. Protestors want better access to services (particularly health care) and to keep rural schools open thus protecting rural culture.

This blog post was written by a CCLA-PBSC RightsWatch student. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCLA or PBSC.