By Kiana Negahdari, April 27 2017 —
For the first time, the Canadian Alliance of Students’ Associations (CASA) and the Quebec Students Union (QSU) have agreed to work together. The recently announced two-year partnership will open doors to advocate to Quebec Members of Parliament that CASA did not previously have access to.
CASA approved pursuing a partnership with the QSU in March 2017 at their annual general meeting at Acadia University in Nova Scotia. The QSU approved of the partnership at their annual general assembly this April in Montreal.
“We agreed on a partnership for a unified university student voice coast-to-coast and we look forward to the increased opportunities it will provide,” QSU President Nicolas Lavallée said in a statement.
CASA advocates on behalf of 21 student associations across Canada to the federal government. The QSU has a similar mandate and represents over 172,000 post-secondary students from 15 student associations in Quebec.
Under the partnership, delegates from each organization will attend each other’s conferences. CASA and the QSU will also help each other engage in federal advocacy.
The University of Calgary Students’ Union is a CASA member. The U of C’s current CASA delegate is outgoing SU vice-president external Tristan Bray, who was also CASA’s national advocacy director this year.
“It really increases our voice in Ottawa,” Bray said. “With this partnership, we can really say that CASA represents all of Canada, now that we have Quebec taking part.”
However, Bray said there are many differences between the two organizations, especially regarding the federal government and its jurisdiction in each province over student issues such as federal student financial aid, student employment and research funding.
“There’s going be a ton of different policy work as we look at different ways the federal government deals with post-secondary in Quebec when compared to the rest of the country,” he said.
Incoming SU vice-president external Shubir Shaikh said he looks forward to overseeing the partnership next year, when he takes over Bray’s portfolio.
“I’m excited to see how this partnership strengthens CASA and our federal advocacy in the coming year,” Shaikh said.
While the terms of the partnership have been agreed upon by both parties, there are still minor details to be reviewed before finalizing the agreement.
“It’s an incredibly exciting time,” Bray said. “All the delegates from QSU that I had the honour of meeting were incredibly professional and intelligent people. It makes our federal advocacy that much stronger which will help us get more wins for the students.”