History of Student Activism
In the 1920’s, Canada’s post-secondary landscape was vastly different from what it is today. The number of universities and programs were limited, the college system had not yet been established, and post-secondary was dominated by the upper and upper-middle class.
Canada’s population was still recovering from the First World War in those days, with morale and feelings of nationalism running low. To combat this and promote national unity, a group of students came together in 1926 to form the first national student organization in Canada. They succeeded in connecting campuses from across Canada and facilitating discussions about student issues between them. They began fighting for increased financial aid in an attempt to open up post-secondary to lower-class citizens and change the education system for good.
Student activism has evolved since then, but the vision to create a better post-secondary education system for all has remained constant.
History of CASA
1993 was the year that CASA’s story really began. During this year, the government made a troubling announcement that all social programs would be under review and that sweeping changes were likely to come.
Student groups who hadn’t previously been involved in student activism were shocked into action with the threat of education cuts looming close. They felt an urgent need to defend and promote students’ interests to the federal government, and decided at the “Winds of Change” conference in 1994 that a new national student organization was needed to accomplish this. They began laying the foundations for this new organization and built the constitutional framework that made CASA the way it is today.
Finally, on June 27, 1995, the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations was born.
By fall, the organization had twelve members and was actively fighting to defend students’ interests and reverse the education cuts that the federal government had made the previous year. Since then, CASA has served to unite the voices of hundreds of thousands of post-secondary students across the country and has made great progress in establishing a more accessible, affordable, innovative, and high quality post-secondary education system.