As part of the Peoples' Social Forum, participants from across the country held a vigil in Ottawa to commemorate those who have died in Gaza.
Palestinian human rights groups that normally hold vigils and demonstrations in their own cities were able to gather in Ottawa and have the opportunity to sign a 66-metre-long Palestinian Flag. Each meter of the flag represents one of the 66 years of struggle the Palestinians have faced since 1948.
The flag has been a part of every rally held in Ottawa since July 8, when Israel's attack on Gaza first began. Each time it is used, many tourists travelling from across the world have also joined in and signed the flag. The flag was already covered with thousands of signatures and on Saturday more were gathered as it was carried along a street at the University of Ottawa.
The flag was created by a Montreal organization called Diversity, Social Transparence, Tolerance, according to the Muslim Link. The group is hoping to break the record for the largest Palestinian flag in history and for having the most signatures on a single flag. The flag will be travelling next to the West Bank.
People from across the country and Ottawa locals gave speeches at the vigil. The speeches focused on the need to continue the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign and other forms of grassroots resistance.
David Heap, a member of Gaza's Ark said it's important to have this vigil at the Peoples' Social Forum because Canadian support for Palestine has always come from the people. "The lesson we are learning from Palestinians," he told the crowd, "Is one of steadfastness."
In a workshop and again at the vigil, Heap stressed the need to build Palestine's economy and advocated for the right to freedom of movement.
"It's not simply about breaking the sea blockade, it's affirming the very basic right of freedom of movement for Palestinians in Gaza and throughout Palestine, the right to freedom of movement as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights," Heap said.
"While we focus on the sea blockade, we are really talking about freedom of movement," he added.
The forum's day-long convergence on Palestine ended with the vigil. Earlier in the day the convergence held a panel discussion, a round table, and an assembly. The convergence assembly established a declaration created by all the groups from across the country involved with the events. The assembly also focused on strategizing and working in solidarity with one another to advocate for Palestinian human rights.
Miriam Katawazi is a fourth-year journalism and human rights student at Carleton University and rabble's news intern. She has a strong passion for human rights and social justice in Canada and across the world. Her writing focuses on health, labour, education and human rights beats.
Photo: Miriam Katawazi
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