Just over 1,000 people have signed a petition created by Nelligan MNA Monsef Derraji to stop the Coalition Avenir Québec government from closing Riverdale High School and handing it over to the French school board. This comes one month after Education Minister Jean-François Roberge announced it was a done deal and there is no turning back.
Despite some recent reports that the petition has already been submitted, Derraji insists those opposed to the transfer still have until March 19 to add their signatures.
“My hope is to have a real conversation with the minister of education,” Derraji told Global News. “This is the beginning of something big. I don’t know which will be the next high school that they will close.”
Derraji said the message he wants to send to Roberge is that the next time he’s thinking of transferring another anglophone school to the French system, that there must first be a consultation.
“They should have a consultation including parents and teachers. I invite people to sign to send a strong message that we’re here to save Riverdale,” Derraji said.
There are currently two petitions to save Riverdale. The first one was created by former students and then an official National Assembly petition followed, which now seems to be causing some confusion.
Watch below: Fight ramps up to save Riverdale High School
Jason Comm, a Riverdale graduate leading the efforts to save the high school, said they started a first petition on Change.org but realized that the National Assembly wouldn’t consider it. That is when they enlisted the help of Derraji who started a new petition on the National Assembly’s website.
“We’re encouraging people to sign the National Assembly petition,” Comm explained. “If you support English schools in Montreal, in Quebec, sign it.
“It’s trying to keep English institutions alive.”
Derraji plans to submit the petition after the March 19 deadline.
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— With files from Global’s Gloria Henriquez