Senior women are storming campuses across Montreal
Political change can come in unexpected packages—like a granny telling you “not to bitch.”
It’s just one of the lines used by the Raging Grannies of Montreal, who have made it their mission to end voter apathy among Montreal’s student population. The Montreal chapter of the national nonprofit, made up of senior women from across the country, are visiting post-secondary campuses to bring political awareness directly to students.
Their tactics include handing out pamphlets and encouraging students to take a selfie with a Granny, in exchange for a promise to vote on Oct. 19. Dancing and singing are also used, including a song with choice words for those who complain about election results: “If you can’t be bothered voting, do not bitch.”
“We want to make them aware that there is an election going on, because believe it not, we met some that had no idea,” said Elizabeth Vezina, one of the Raging Grannies who rallied at Vanier College on Sept. 23. “And then, to try to convince them to get out there and vote.”
According to Elections Canada, in the 2011 federal election, voter turnout in the 18-24 age bracket was 38.8 per cent. Combined with population statistics provided by the 2011 Federal Census, that accounts for over 1.8 million eligible voters in the 18-24 age bracket that did not cast a vote in 2011. The Grannies hope those 1.8 million votes can make a difference this October.
“We try very hard to be a non-partisan, but we are really dismayed by the lack of student votes,” said Vezina. “We assume—or hope—that [students] will take a more progressive outlook, and that they will change, or improve, the government that we currently have.”
The message appears to be resonating with some students. Elizabeta Ovolodski and Nastacia Choulgova, who both study at Vanier College, said they approve of what the Grannies are trying to do.
“Sometimes you think that old people and grannies don’t really care for young people and our opinions,” said Ovolodski. “So it’s pretty cool that they’re trying to make us interact and, you know, be a part of [the election].”
“I usually find older people more conservative, they like to keep things the same, repetitive, no new change,” added Choulgova. “So the fact that the grannies are taking charge—it’s kind of interesting to see it, them actually taking part in it, and really putting effort in.”
Alan Wong, a Concordia University graduate who filmed a documentary on the Raging Grannies, hopes the movement will be at least a little effective.
“I think it’ll draw some attention,” said Wong. “I think any little bit makes a difference, even if it’s a small difference … a difference of any kind is good.”
The Grannies, for their part, are remaining optimistic. “You never, ever know when you’re going to hit some sort of a cord with someone, if you’re going to say something and that message is going to get through,” said Vezina. “So we’ll keep giving out the message.”
“We wouldn’t do things if we didn’t have faith in what we were doing,” added Ellen Moore, another member of the Raging Grannies. “We hope it will make a difference. We live in hope.”