Ceasefire Now! March for Gaza

National March in Nanaimo
Nanaimo residents and visitors braved the unpredictable weather to attend the city’s National March for Gaza.

Photo By: Mick Sweetman / CHLY 101.7 FM

11.07.2023 | News

Nanaimo residents and visitors braved the unpredictable weather to attend the city’s National March for Gaza on Saturday, November 4. 

This march was one of 33 taking place across Canada that day, the National Day of Action for Palestine. It was organized by the Students for Palestine Committee, including members of VIU’s Muslim Women’s Club, the Muslim Students’ Association, and the community. 

These marches took place amid escalating violence in Palestine. As of November 6, at least 10,022 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza and 152 in the occupied West Bank. The Israeli military has attacked residences, hospitals, schools, churches, and other shelters. Within the last month, the Israeli government has also shut off Gaza’s electricity and access to food, water, and medical aid.

Nanaimo’s march started at Maffeo Sutton Park with a statement from one of the organizers, Salma Fargalah. She reminded people what they were calling for—an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, an end to the siege in Gaza, and the halting of Canadian funding to Israel.

The march made its way to Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Lisa Marie Barron’s office. Barron and other NDP MPs had written a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on November 1, demanding that Canada call for a ceasefire. 

While the letter referenced the occupation of Palestine and Canada’s supply of weapons to Israel, it dated the siege on Gaza to October 7, 2023 (it’s been under siege since 2005) and stopped short of calling Israel’s actions in Palestine a genocide.

Fargalah and other organizers gave a speech outside the office after taping a copy of those words onto the door. They first condemned Prime Minister Trudeau’s choice to call for a “humanitarian pause” instead of an outright ceasefire. 

Poster for Poetree submissions. Deadline: November 1 at 11:59 pm.

Salma Fargalah (right) and Zena Kishawi (left).
Speaking at MP’s Office By: Mick Sweetman / CHLY

“[As] though providing Gazans sips of water between bombardments could be a proper response to the indiscriminate bombing and unfolding genocide,” Zena Kishawi said.

They then lambasted Canadian Ambassador to the UN Bob Rae for blaming Hamas for Israel’s actions and offering political and diplomatic cover for Israel’s crimes in Gaza. Finally, they denounced Canada’s continued support for Israel’s occupation and oppression of Palestine, going as far back as 1947

“We condemn Canada for consistently shielding Israel from accountability and for defending its genocide, as though carpet-bombing a defenseless civilian population were a form of self-defense,” Fargalah said.

The speech finished with a reading of 75 names, one for each year of the Israeli occupation. They belonged to Palestinians, aged 0-74 years old, who have been killed in Gaza since October 8.

Afterward, the protestors made their way back to Maffeo Sutton Park, briefly stopping at the Provincial Courthouse. They finished by standing at the intersection at Terminal Ave. and Comox Rd., chanting and holding their signs.

People stood among international flags

International flags By: Mick Sweetman / CHLY

Around 400 people attended, with some coming from as far away as Duncan. According to Fargalah, it was Nanaimo’s largest protest for Palestine so far. “I expected a lot of people today because it’s the National Action Day,” she said, “but again the number of people today was beyond expectations.”

Kishawi was similarly surprised. “I think it went pretty well, actually,” she said. “It was nice to see so many new faces we haven’t seen at the previous protest[s].”

Fellow organizer Jo Briere added, “I’m heartened to see the 400+ supporters. I love my community. Give the land back!

“The March2,” “The March 1,” and “Salma’s Interview.” Videos By: Salem Abdullah

There will be an emergency protest on Wednesday, November 8, from 4–5 pm at Terminal and Comox, calling again for an urgently needed ceasefire in Gaza.

VIU’s Muslim Women’s Club (MWC) continues to provide support and awareness both on campus and in the community.  

Following the emergency protest, the MWC will host a screening of Farha (2021), a Palestinian-Jordanian film about the 1948 Nakba. It will take place in building 250, room 125 of VIU’s Nanaimo campus. Doors open at 5:45 pm, and the film starts at 6. Entry is free, but there is an option of getting popcorn and a drink for $5. The money will go toward relief efforts in Gaza.

The MWC will also have their Ask Us About Palestine information booths on campus from 11–2:30 pm through November 7–9. Follow them on Instagram for more information about upcoming events.

Ceasefire Emergency Protest

Wednesday, November 8 @ 4–5 pm
Terminal and Comox

Film Screening of Farha

Wednesday, November 8 @ 6 pm
VIU (building 250, room 125)

Ask Us About Palestine

November 7–9 @ 11–2:30 pm
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday
VIU (booths on campus)

Headshot of Sophia Wasylinko

Sophia is in her third year at The Navigator and fifth (final!) year of the Creative Writing and Journalism program. Outside of The Nav, she volunteers as a Peer Helper and is doing another year of Portal Magazine. This summer, a solo trip to Japan ignited Sophia’s wanderlust. She hopes to return soon, next time with a stop in Korea.

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