From The Debt Collective
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The red square was first used as a symbol in the student strikes in 2005 and again in 2012 in Quebec. The students wore red felt squares as a symbol of debt: it means carrément dans le rouge, or squarely in the red. The government in Quebec wanted to charge college students tuition and fees for the first time. Students walked out of class to protest, and the strikes lasted several months. Half of Quebec's student population was involved by 2012. Hundreds of thousands of people joined the students in support until the government halted the plan to impose tuition. Srike Debt adopted the red square as the general symbol of debt resistance in 2012, and it has been in widespread use since then.