Canada’s largest river showboat, the Jubilee Queen, has been chartered for an evening dedicated to supporting a Canadian humanitarian voyage to Gaza.

On Saturday Sept. 25, a sunset cruise on Lake Ontario aboard the “Queen” will raise funds for a Canadian mission as part of the Free Gaza Flotilla Movement in the eastern Mediterranean. “This will give people the taste of being on the boat although the trip to Gaza is not expected to be enjoyable in the same way this evening promises to be,” said Sandra Ruch, of the Canadian Boat to Gaza steering committee.

The Sept. 25 Toronto fundraiser is part of a cross-country campaign to send a Canadian ship with the next international flotilla challenging the blockade of Gaza, which restricts entry of materials into Gaza and does not allow any exports to leave. In May, Israeli commandoes stormed a Free Gaza flotilla in international waters, killing nine on board a Turkish ship, the Mavi Marmara.

Similar fundraising efforts are underway in cities across Canada. The Canadian Boat to Gaza plans to sail before the end of the year. Our sister project, the Audacity of Hope (the US boat to Gaza) raised over $30,000 U.S. on a similar cruise on the Hudson River. “We are confident that our fundraiser will be as successful, ” said Ruch, an organizer of the event.

Boarding begins at 6:30 p.m. for a 7:00 p.m. departure from 539 Queens Quay W., west of Spadina and adjacent to Harbourfront’s Music Garden. A Mediterranean buffet on board will feature tastes of the region, while entertainment will include dancing and music until the ship returns to port at 11 p.m.

Boarding passes, including dinner and entertainment, are $75, available from Beit Zatoun (647-726-9500) and the Women’s Bookstore (416-922-8744). Proceeds will go to the Canada Boat to Gaza Committee, a partner of the Free Gaza Movement.

Launched in 1986, the Jubilee Queen is a replica of luxury sternwheelers that used to ply inland waters. Appointments include spacious salons, Tiffany lamps, a large patio sundeck, two fully licensed cash bars and comfortable seating.

The Spadina-Harbourfront streetcar stops near the dock. For those driving to the ship, underground parking is a few feet away.