People Counting: 72,000+ protesters at Montréal Demonstration Against Tuition Hikes

On March 22, students, teachers, union representatives, politicians, parents and other concerned citizens converged onto the streets of Montréal to demonstrate their opposition to the current Québec government’s tuition increases and in support of accessible education. Students from universities CÉGEP’s throughout Québec (and elsewhere) made their way to Montréal to show that the strength of a social movement is in its numbers. But exactly how many people marched in the streets, who decides and how are they counted?

Official route for the March 22 demonstration.

It was a beautiful day with temperatures hovering above 22°C with a 10-minute shower toward the end of the afternoon that was unseasonably refreshing.

The main gathering place was Dorchester Square/Place du Canada at the corner of Peel street  and René-Lévesque boulevard (A on map) with a final destination, 5.5 kms later, at the Old Port of Montréal (G on map).

The official route went north on Peel, east along Sherbrooke street then south along Berri street. The size of the crowd and the funnel effect leaving Dorchester Square led protesters to add a secondary route out of the Square on Metcalfe, a street parallel to Peel. Like all flowing masses, the march branched out again along paths of least resistance off the main route, to head eastward along Ste-Catherine street, creating two parallel streams of social discontent. The levees of predisposition could no longer contain the flood of dissent.

Students and faculty from Communication Studies at Concordia University gather at Jean Belliveau sculpture before heading as a group to the protest. 2012 @ Krista Geneviève Lynes.

When our group of 35 students and faculty from Communication Studies at Concordia reached Peel street — after meeting at the Jean Belliveau sculpture on avenue des Canadiens-de-Montréal — we could feel the mass of people from the successive ebb and flow of cheers that sent waves through the crowd. No one was immune to the gathering’s effervescence. But how many people were there and how many more were on their way?

Demonstrators (including a fiusha-haired member of Concordia's Media Studies MA program) march on in what has been called "possibly the largest mass protest in Québec history." 2012 © Eduardo Fuenmayor.

The Gazette claims in its headline that, “Thousands of students protest tuition increases in Montreal” before upping the quantity estimate tenfold in the first sentence of the article which begins: “Tens of thousands of activists filled Montreal’s Continue reading

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