March 5, 2017

National Graduate Caucus Gathers in Ottawa

From February 24 to 26, graduate students from across the country came together to set the direction for the National Graduate Caucus (NGC) of the Canadian Federation of Students. NGC represents more than 90,000 graduate students from coast to coast, making it the largest and most effective voice for graduate students in Canada. This meeting provided an opportunity for student representatives to network with and learn from one another.

Participants had the opportunity to learn from Nora Loreto, activist and author; Erika Shaker, CCPA Director of Education and Outreach; Sheila Grantham, Christina Jaimungal and Janelle Brady.

We discussed the importance of making campuses better for student parents and supporting the call for universal childcare, how to be in solidarity with the labour movement to resist neoliberalism and how graduate students can work to decolonize our institutions and our research.

Participants also developed a number of campaign initiatives to pursue change on matters that affect graduate students. Advocacy priorities include:

  • Improving mental health services on our campuses to better address graduate students’ needs;
  • making our campuses more child and parent-friendly by fighting for affordable, flexible and accommodating childcare; and
  • fighting against the corporatization of education, including supporting the labour movement in the fight against the normalization of precarious labour and challenging the increased reliance on the private sponsorship of research.

Students also set the research and lobbying priorities of the National Graduate Caucus. Moving forward, the executive of the National Graduate Caucus will conduct research on time to completion rates in Canada and the intersection of these rates with different forms of oppression. In addition to continuing to lobby for increased research funding through the tri-council agencies, the National Graduate Caucus will also begin to lobby for increased and better distributed needs-based bursaries for graduate students.

As the meeting concluded, participants reiterated the importance of having networks and spaces like the National Graduate Caucus that allow them to hear about the fantastic work being undertaken by other graduate students across the country . The National Graduate Caucus provides graduate students the ability to come together with a shared goal of challenging the growing inaccessibility of graduate school, and to support each other in this work. The Graduate Caucus is uniquely poised to identify and respond to struggles happening on the local, provincial, and national levels for graduate students.

The Graduate Caucus also elected its executive for the 2017-2018 term:

  • Jenna Amirault, a member of Local 78-Carleton University Graduate Students’ Association, was elected Chairperson
  • Shannon Kitching, a member of Local 102-Brock University Graduate Students’ Association, was elected Deputy Chairperson
  • Carolyn Quin, a member of Local 24-Ryerson Students’ Union, was elected Treasurer

For more information and to get involved in the National Graduate Caucus, send us a message at ngc@cfs-fcee.ca