Canada

T-shirt campaign protests proposed education bill in Manitoba

WINNIPEG —
A group of Manitobans are seeing red in response to a proposed education bill.

On Thursday, RED for Ed MB, a Facebook group opposing the bill, launched a t-shirt campaign to “Fight Bill 64.”

The group wants educators, school staff, parents, and other community members to wear red clothing on Fridays to support the movement.

In a joint statement with ProtectEdMB, RED for Ed MB said, “because in-person demonstrations are not possible at this time, the ongoing red shirt protest is being organized to amplify the grave concerns of all Manitobans about this regressive legislation.”

Bill 64 – the Education Modernization Act – proposes significant changes to K-12 education in Manitoba, which would include replacing 37 existing school divisions with 15 regional systems. The new system would be managed by a provincial oversight body and removed elected school boards, as well as the role of school trustees.

Aaron Beckman, a Winnipeg teacher, said the concept for RED for Ed originated in the United States.

“Educators down there were fighting for proper funding for public education,” Beckman said on Thursday. “And that movement has spread to Canada.”

RED for Ed campaigns have popped up in Alberta, British Columbia, and Ontario.

“It’s a really obvious beacon,” Beckman said of the intent behind wearing red. “[It shows] you are willing to stand up against [Bill 64] and maybe have a discussion about it.”

Beckman created the Facebook group a few weeks ago to encourage others to join him in fighting Bill 64 by wearing red on Fridays.

“To further show that solidarity, we decided to make t-shirts,” Beckman said.

Beckman started selling the red t-shirts, emblazoned with “Fight Bill 64 “over an outline of the province, through the Facebook page.

Proceeds from each t-shirt sold have been donated to supporting breakfast and snack programs in Manitoba schools and the group says it has raised more than $3,000 through the campaign so far.

Beckman said he thinks people want to take action, but pandemic restrictions have limited their ability to do so. He said the t-shirt campaign has allowed people to contribute to the fight against the bill in a tangible way.

“Not just for wearing the shirts, but for the fact it’s going to charity and it’s helping kids in our province.”


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