Rural residents march against proposed plan to close schools, despite cold weather

Gary and Dorothy wait outside the Delta for more protesters to rally against the closure of five rural schools on Jan. 16. Haley MacLeod photo.

By Haley MacLeod

Jan. 20, 2017

The upset of closing five rural schools on Prince Edward Island played out Jan. 16 in front of the Delta Hotel in Charlottetown.

More than 50 people rallied outside in -18 weather to voice their concerns to the Liberal Government and premier Wade MacLauchlan.

Protesters began to arrive outside the Delta shortly after 5 p.m.

Gary and Dorothy Oulton were the first to arrive. They carried signs saying save our schools! Don’t close them!

“We’re here because we believe a closure of a school damages the community,” Dorothy said.

Inside, Delta staff were preparing for MacLauchlan to arrive and give his State of Province address.

As the crowd began to grow they were told by workers from the Delta they would have to stand on the other side if they were going to protest.

The crowd shuffled in the cold to the front of the parkade and waited for the premier.

Protesters wanted answers, many like Connie Stewart who has two sons at Belfast Consolidated.

“He promised he would pay attention to the rural communities. I want him to prove it.”

Children bundled up from their head to their toes began chanting, ‘Save our schools.’ Many others joined in.

The wind began blowing snow, but that didn’t stop protesters. Determined to do anything to save their schools.

After an hour in the cold, the crowd began to disperse.

MacLauchlan had avoided the crowd and was already inside, warm and preparing to give his speech.