Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Silent Ones

The ongoing student protests in Montreal are impossible to ignore.  This is one social debate that citizens cannot detach themselves from by tuning out and ignoring the din of the nightly demonstrations (often violent) on the streets of Montreal and in my downtown neighborhood. The protest has morphed from the original focus on tuition hikes to the contesting of the special law 78 and many of its provisions that citizens believe are contravening Canadian's fundamental rights of expression and association. Every evening at 8 pm sharp, citizens of all ages take to the streets banging on pots and pans. This 'manif des casseroles' happens mostly downtown and looks like this: (video from my balcony)

But this post is not about the students and their contention that the government is marginalizing them with the increase in tuition.  Rather it is about another marginalized group in our society; one that is almost completely silent.  The elderly sit quietly through their final years, often alone and unproductive.  Yesterday, as I strolled the sunny streets of downtown Montreal, at the corner of deMaisonneuve and St. Denis, I saw this:

These elderly people sat quietly in their chairs, not acknowledging their perplexed audience below.  Understand this as you will; its meaning is not as striking as the contrast it provides between the divergent needs of these two groups and way in which their voices are heard, or not.

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