Canadore College President Discards Student Tent Protest as ‘Publicity Stunt’ Over Housing Crisis

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In a wave of recent controversy, George Burton, the president of North Bay’s Canadore College, describes a recent demonstration where students were seen sleeping in tents as nothing but a “publicity stunt” contrived by external force. According to Burton, many participating students never intended to study in this city, while others outright rejected the housing options that the institution suggested.

The scene on September 6, at Commerce Court telling an unsettling story of a tent city, was merely a calculated stratagem by a secondary party, which emerged after our students declined to take the lodging alternatives available to them,” Burton disclosed in an open letter to the community.

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He assured that the college provided suitable accommodation for any student that wished to be housed. ‘Nobody was obligated to seek makeshift shelter in vehicles, tents, bus stations, or airports unless they chose to’, expressed Burton, indicating that any claims of the contrary are misguided.

This demonstration gained substantial media attention, with one of the students confessing to a prominent television network about their fruitless search for housing after residing in the city since June.

Interestingly, the dilemma of students hailing from overseas finding housing in North Bay took another turn when Laurie Sharpe, an employee at a London, Ontario-based property management company, shared her perspective. She candidly spoke about a student who migrated from Africa and astonishingly spent his first night in Canada at a bus station, a poignant testament to the scarcity of housing.

Burton, while distancing himself from commenting during the protest, was quick to point out that Canadore had not abandoned its students in such turmoil. He held an unidentified group from southern Ontario as the driving force behind the demonstration.

He insists that these students repeatedly declined assistance potential accommodation, lead astray by misinformation from third parties suggesting rents as low as $250 a month. In spite of early alerts from Canadore regarding potential housing crisis, a majority deferred their search until the week prior to the start of the semester.

Burton condemned third-party interference from Southern Ontario, asserting that it escalated the situation and obstructed direct interaction between the college and the students seeking accommodation.

He indicated that beginning winter 2024, international students will be required to provide proof of housing as part of their enrolment process. His accusations about the influence of “home country politics” and the agitation of a third party will reportedly be addressed at an upcoming news conference.

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Melinda Cochrane is a poet, teacher and fiction author. She is also the editor and publisher of The Inspired Heart, a collection of international writers. Melinda also runs a publishing company, Melinda Cochrane International books for aspiring writers, based out Montreal, Quebec. Her publication credits include: The art of poetic inquiry, (Backalong Books), a novella, Desperate Freedom, (Brian Wrixon Books Canada), and 2 collections of poetry; The Man Who Stole Father’s Boat, (Backalong Books), and She’s an Island Poet, Desperate Freedom was on the bestseller's list for one week, and The Man Who Stole Father’s Boat is one of hope and encouragement for all those living in the social welfare system. She’s been published in online magazines such as, (regular writer for) ‘Life as a Human’, and Shannon Grissom’s magazine.