Dale Colbourne is one of the people in the St. Lunaire-Griquet area who have been using themselves and their vehicles as a blockade every school morning at Bayview Regional Collegiate since last week.
This school is scheduled to close after this academic year, and Grades 7-12 students will be bused to St. Anthony starting in September. Some residents are protesting the busing of the students, and lobbying to at least turn one of the two schools in the immediate area into a K-12 institute.
The protesters have been attending board meetings of the Western School District in Corner Brook and holding demonstrations throughout the eight communities where students attend the school, including public meetings, parades, and rallies. The people are demanding to speak with school board representatives and staff or government officials in hopes of having the decision — which was made in 2008 — overturned.
School board members and staff have confirmed and reaffirmed that this decision is final. In the years since, the board has twice voted to not revisit this decision and, at a school board meeting in Febraury, the board also voted to not engage in further discussion with area residents pertaining to this issue.
But the concerned people are not accepting this response.
The latest protests have been parking their vehicles across and standing in front of the two entrances to Bayview Regional Collegiate in the mornings. They have been preventing access to the parking lot of the school for more than a week now, from 7-10 a.m.
Colbourne says the disruptions have been peaceful, that they have allowed the students to enter the school with one of the teachers as a chaperone each day. She also said police have attended, but have not been required to intervene.
Although it is important they make their point, she said the protesters must keep things peaceful.
“Our children are our most precious commodity, and we are not going to see any harm come to them,” Colbourne said. “That is why we are doing this, so they don’t have to drive to St. Anthony in inclement weather.”
Despite the ongoing protests, school board members and staff have not adressed the residents. Ross Elliott, director of education, has previously said residents of the area must now focus on the upcoming implementation process for the change to the new school in St. Anthony. At that time, issues pertaining to transportation will be addressed, he has said.
Colbourne and other residents are not satisfied with that response.
“I don’t think we are fighting a losing battle, it just seems like they are not very open to conversation,” she said. “That is the polite way of putting it.
“It’s not easy, but when the going gets tough...”
Colbourne said they are planning to continue protests, including blocking the school in the mornings. They also are plannign other actions, but would not say what that is yet.