Over 300 international students, primarily from Punjab, who recently enrolled at Canadore College and Nipissing University for the September and January intakes, are grappling with a housing dilemma, prompting them to stage a protest outside the campus yesterday.
Despite initial assurances given during the admission process, these educational institutions have failed to provide adequate lodging, leaving these students in a precarious situation.
Escalating Rental Costs
North Bay, a relatively small city with a sparse population, is proving to be a challenging place for these students to secure affordable accommodation. What should have been reasonably priced shared basement rooms, originally expected to cost between $300 to $350, are now commanding exorbitant rates of $700 to $800, with additional expenses for laundry and Wi-Fi, according to Gurkirat Singh, a student at Canadore College.
Gurkirat Singh voiced his concerns, stating, “North Bay is a small city with a sparse population, and students are struggling to find accommodation. The owners are charging exorbitant rates. Shared basement rooms that should cost $300 or $350 are being rented for $700 or $800, excluding laundry and Wi-Fi.”
Jaspreet Kaur, another student hailing from Ludhiana, shared her plight, saying, “I’ve been tirelessly searching for permanent accommodation for the past few months. I had to stay with a friend in Brampton, resulting in a daily commute to North Bay, costing me nearly $100 on public transport.” She also mentioned that she had appealed to the college authorities for online classes or relocation to another campus, but her requests have gone unanswered.
With the number of students facing accommodation challenges steadily rising, some are left with no choice but to spend their nights in parks or hotels.
Seeking Support and Taking a Stand
In their quest for a solution, the distressed students sought assistance from the Montreal Youth Student Organization (MYSO) and various Punjabi organizations. Following a meeting between MYSO leaders and the affected students, a collective decision was reached to stage a protest outside the North Bay College campus.
As the night fell and the protesting students’ numbers dwindled, the college summoned security personnel to disperse them. However, their determination remains unshaken. Jaswinder Kaur, another student, emphasized, “We will continue with our protest until the college fulfills its promise of providing accommodation. We are also reaching out to international students from other colleges facing similar challenges.”
The situation facing these international students in Canada highlights the critical need for immediate attention and resolution, not only for their well-being but also to uphold the integrity of educational institutions in welcoming students from around the world.