Thousands marched through downtown Halifax calling for an end to the violence in the Gaza Strip and for Canada to call for a ceasefire on Sunday.
The protest began in Victoria Park with an Islamic call to prayer where rows of people lined up and performed a traditional Muslim prayer. Local activists from the Muslim community and from grassroots organization Independent Jewish Voices Canada gave speeches over a loudspeaker and initiated chants with the crowd.
“I’m very grateful to the Canadian people for coming out in support of humanity,” said local activist Rana Zaman. “But I’m disappointed by our leadership for their statements and their lack of humanity. And they continue by sending weapons, military support, and money to aid in the genocide of the Palestinian people,” she said.
Before marching towards city hall, Mi’kmaq community members performed a traditional drum circle. Claire Desmond was one of the drummers. “Our plights are very similar,” she said. “It’s very discomforting to be bringing up children in this kind of environment,” she said.
As protesters marched through the city, they chanted “free free Palestine,” “from the river to the sea” and chants critical of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston. Police estimated the crowd at 3,000.
“I just think it’s a normal, ordinary thing, when you see what’s happening, to find a way to stop doing that. And somehow get out of that mess, because it’s never gonna end. If we keep reacting like that, if people react like that, it’s just the end of the whole world,” said protester Stu Duclow.
Bystander Mike Deeth, who lives in the area, came outside to witness the commotion.
“I can understand why they’re upset. It’s a horrible situation,” he said.
“It’s good, I mean something needs to be done about it,” he said
However, some were critical of the protest. Alex, a Jewish-Israeli Canadian, said she attended to represent a group of concerned Jewish-Israeli citizens. She didn’t want to give her last name.
“We are a group that gathered together to give some contrast to this and not letting the world forget about the 240 people (who) were still kidnapped, who are still (held) hostage by Hamas,” she said.
“I’m talking from the Israeli side and someone whose life changed completely after Oct. 7, many . . . of us will never be the same again,” she said.
As the conflict enters its second month, more than 11,000 have been killed and 1.5 million have been displaced, according to Gaza officials. Israel invaded Gaza in response to an attack launched by the militant group Hamas that killed more than 1,200 people and took hundreds captive.
Protests expressing solidarity with Palestinians have swept across the world, including many cities in Canada.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called for humanitarian pauses to allow for aid, but the Liberal government maintains that it stands with Israel and supports its right to defend itself. Federally only the NDP and Bloc parties have called for a ceasefire.
About the author
Giancarlo Cininni is completing his fourth year of the BJH program. Reading and writing is painful for him, but he does it anyway to satisfy...