A dérive at the University of Laval

My love, Natasha, is a student of Classical Studies at the University of Laval in Quebec. Which means that I sometimes get to wander around campus, and plunder the extensive library.

Most of the buildings on campus are exceptionally ugly, so you’ll have to forgive me for not pointing my camera at them much. In the picture below, that’s the front face of the library in the background, so I hope you get my drift. (Ha! Pardon my pun…)

You probably heard about the student protests over proposed increases to tuition fees here in Quebec earlier this year. Some people called it “The largest act of civil disobedience in Canadian History.” The Wikipedia article about it is here.

The biggest demonstrations took place over in Montreal, but there were plenty of protests around Quebec City, including “Casseroles” protests, where participants would bang on pots and pans. This was inspired by the cacerolazo, which originated in Chile in 1971.

The eventual introduction of the controversial Bill 78, an attempt by the government to control and quell the protests, was perhaps the death knell for Quebec premier Jean Charest. Soon after he was pressured into a general election, which he lost.

On September 4th, Pauline Marois of the Parti Québécois became Quebec’s first female premier. However, the celebrations were marred when, during Marios’ victory speech, shots were fired and one person died, another critically injured. Read more here.

As the shooter was being apprehended, he shouted at TV cameras “The English are waking up!”

The man was clearly disturbed, but it’s worth noting that there is divided opinion on whether or not Quebec should become an independent country, a goal that the Parti Québécois champions.

Marois scrapped the plans for the tuition fee increases and repealed Bill 78 on “the first day of the job.”

So there you have a very brief glimpse of Quebec politics, which seemed appropriate to convey seeing as I was drifting around the University campus…

What most interested me on my dérive that day were the 10km of tunnels that run underground, connecting all the campus buildings together. These are most useful in the dead of winter, when the temperature reaches minus ridiculous, and all is full of snow, and tempestuous.

The tunnels form a curious subterranean world full of art and echo.

I took a field recording from inside the tunnels, which gives some idea of what it’s like down there – you can listen to it here.

There’s some great art. The graffiti varies, as can be expected, between humour, political statement, the inane, and the profound. And, of course, there are a lot of penises.

There are more photo’s taken whilst on this dérive here.

Themes: The end of slavery of yesterday and today. The end of human abuse to the environment.

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