|Thousands of demonstrators march against student tuition hikes in downtown Montreal, Quebec, May 22, 2012. (Reuters/CHRISTINNE MUSCHI/Files)
MONTREAL - A prominent student leader says the six-month strike has ended at the province's community colleges, most of which voted to resume studies.
Students at several Quebec universities were to decide in the coming days if they too would return to class.
The spring semester, cut short by violence, resumes this week after 14 community colleges and certain faculties at 11 university campuses shut down when the student strike began on Feb. 14.
About 30% of all post-secondary students boycotted classes, and blockades and window-smashing protests led to thousands of arrests and made international headlines.
The crisis led the education minister to resign and Premier Jean Charest passed a special law in May that suspended the semester.
Charest said he wanted to ease pressure on school officials, mainly in the Montreal region, who had refused to open their doors for fear the buildings would be ransacked.
Even though students at two Montreal community colleges voted last week to continue the strike, the results were close and students were scheduled to hold a second vote on Friday.
But regardless of the outcome, the head of Quebec's community college students' association, the FECQ, said the strike is "finished."
"The strike is over in (colleges) but the student movement isn't going away," president Eliane Laberge said.
She said she believes a large number of students will cast ballots in the Sept. 4 provincial election, a vote Charest says he called because of the student crisis.
"Students are eager to go to the polls and choose who will represent them in government for the next four years," Laberge said. "Mobilization is still there."