Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Vancouver student union demands Canadian Federation of Students chairperson apologize to Canadian students

March 30, 2016 by Pascale Archibald, student editor

The Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) recently issued a lobby document, Public Education for the Public Good, to postsecondary schools across Canada. The document is intended to unite student groups across Canada in their lobbying efforts, but, in light of ongoing tensions between the CFS and its BC members, it struck a nerve for Students’ Union of Vancouver Community College (SUVCC) chairperson Sara Bigler.

Bigler sent a letter to CFS chairperson Bilan Arte demanding that Arte apologize to students across Canada for what Bigler sees as her leadership role in undermining the Canadian student movement. (Read the letter here.)

In addition, the letter demands answers to questions that the Canadian Federation of Students-British Columbia (CFS-BC) say they have been asking the national CFS for almost a year.

Motions from a CFS-BC meeting resolving to begin the process of separating from the national CFS organization (file photo).

Motions from a CFS-BC meeting resolving to begin the process of separating from the national CFS organization (file photo).

“I completely understand why they wanted to make a point of sending that letter, especially after receiving a lobby document with no information, no phone call, nothing to try to heal the breach,” says Camosun College Student Society external executive Andrea Eggenberger. (All Camosun students are members of CFS and CFS-BC through membership automatically paid as part of student fees.)

Bigler says that the SUVCC has had a proud history of involvement in Canada’s student movement and that the way CFS has conducted business over the past few years has affected their ability to effectively lobby on behalf of students.

“Over the last two years the organization [CFS-BC] has witnessed a rapid decline in the leadership of the Canadian Federation of Students,” says Bigler. “The crisis of leadership has taken away from the work that the federation exists to undertake.”

Arte declined to speak to Nexus for this story.

Bigler points to a lack of important documentation that the SUVCC and other student organizations need from the CFS in order to do their jobs successfully.

“Being a chair at the Students’ Union of Vancouver Community College, I need to know specific information to do my job, and the CFS hasn’t given that,” says Bigler.

Eggenberger agrees with Bigler, saying that CFS’ lack of documentation is problematic, and citing missing audited financial statements as an example.

“We need those [statements] for our fee collection in BC because our province is very strict on regulations for the operation of student societies,” says Eggenberger. “We need to have an audited financial statement on how our fees are spent, and part of our fees are spent through CFS national.”

Bigler’s letter outlines correspondence between CFS-BC and CFS over specific issues, starting in May of 2015. Bigler refers to several past semi-annual general meetings held by CFS-BC in which correspondence outlining concerns were sent to the national office and never replied to.

In her letter, she demands to know why CFS has not produced audited financial statements since November 2014, despite it being a legal requirement; why there has been no Campaigns and Government Relations Strategy produced for the 2015-16 academic year despite it being required by the CFS bylaws; and why member local unions have been barred from access to student services such as the International Student Identity Card.

Bigler goes on in the letter to request that Arte fulfil the demands made by CFS-BC in a letter sent to the national office in October of 2015. She also says that because of actions taken by CFS, the student movement in Canada has been undermined and Arte has effectively silenced the students of Canada.

“I think she owes an apology to the students of Canada,” says Bigler, “for taking away their voice; for taking away our voices.”

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2 Responses to “Vancouver student union demands Canadian Federation of Students chairperson apologize to Canadian students”
  1. k says:

    Philip Link and Lucy Watson are just using the BC wing of the CFS as their personal plaything because they got ousted from national. This is just one level of non-student staffers fighting against another. It’s pathetic.

    The whole organization of the CFS is corrupt from its core which is why both SFU and UVic jumped ship awhile ago. The CFS-BC has been irrelevant since.

    • t says:

      CFS has been corrupt since Langara successfully expunged Philip Link and he took his travelling circus of dirty tricks on the road. I wouldn’t be surprised if in the end he ended up owning Travel-Cuts after CFS dissolves through bankruptcy due to lawyer’s fees.

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