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Vancouver ESL school closes suddenly

he sudden closure of a Vancouver language school has left 600 students out of class, and almost 100 school staff out of a job.

Teachers at Vancouver English Centre (VEC), an English as a second language (ESL) school in downtown Vancouver, have been on strike for the last four weeks, seeking their first collective contract.

Hector Diaz VEC ESL

VEC student Hector Diaz says the activities the school is offering are not an adequate replacement for the English classes he paid for. (Christer Waara/CBC)

Union representatives say they showed up to the school at 9 a.m. Friday morning for a private mediation session, but instead found a group of confused students and staff gathered outside. A note had been posted saying the school was closed, and was unlikely to reopen.

Hector Diaz, a VEC student visiting from Mexico, says the school has yet to refund his money despite repeated requests throughout the strike. Now that the school is closed, he has no idea what to do.

"I came here to study but now I don't have any money to take another course, because they have my money," Diaz said.

"I travelled miles away from my country, and this is a bad situation that I am [in]."

Before the strike, the school had about 600 students enrolled — all of whom have been left with no explanation for the sudden closure, no contact information, and no refund.

Ken Gardner, president and owner of VEC, was contacted by the CBC for comment, but did not respond by deadline. A copy of the closure notice was posted on the school's Twitter page.