Support for Palestine maintained in new year

Vigil and weekly pro-Palestine protests held in Montreal.

At 6 p.m. on Jan. 11, around 100 people attended a vigil for Palestinian journalists in the Old Port. Organized by the Palestinian Youth Movement, the vigil was a break from the protests the organization has focused on in the past few months.

A volunteer with the Palestinian Youth Movement, who wished to remain anonymous, stated that the event was “an opportunity for the community to come together and mourn after the deaths of several journalists since October in Gaza.” 

“The majority of our events since October have been protests. This is really intended for us as a community, to give ourselves a chance to honor people in between continuing to march and continuing to fight,” they said. 

They also mentioned the importance of maintaining support for Palestine in the new year.

“As time goes on, people might feel hopeless, people might feel like what we’re doing is not working. Our political leaders are banking on us getting tired and are banking on us eventually just giving up, and three months in we have proven to them that this is not the case,” they said.

Similar sentiments were echoed by attendees. Sarah Graham, a Montrealer and vigil attendee, said that it was important to show solidarity and support. “We’re all implicated in this. Our government officials are actively or passively supporting Israel, and I think we all have a collective responsibility. I don’t want to tell my grandkids that I didn’t do anything.”

Organizers set up a projection of video footage that included a list of 112 journalists killed, photos of the journalists accompanied by their quotes, and graphics calling for the liberation of Palestine.

At 6:30 p.m., a loudspeaker was set up and one of the vigil’s organizers welcomed the first of many speakers to address the crowd. A Mohawk activist drew parallels between Indigenous struggles in Canada and the genocide in Palestine before calling on attendees to join her for a moment of silence for the journalists killed.

After the moment of silence, the names of journalists killed echoed through the crowd. Speakers from Independent Jewish Voices, Students for Palestinian Human Rights, the Journalism Department of the University of Montreal, the Montreal chapter of the Palestinian Youth Movement, and the McGill Daily spoke to the importance of journalism and the bravery and sacrifice of Palestinian journalists.

Sarah Shamy, an organizer with the Palestinian Youth Movement, expressed, “It is really important to recognize that the aggression is getting worse and spilling over into the region. Tonight, we had news that Yemen has been targeted by the US with airstrikes for standing in solidarity with the Palestinian people,” Shamy said.

Another attendee expressed, “What we are fighting for right now is not just a ceasefire. A ceasefire is just the absolute bare minimum that we can accomplish.”

This vigil comes in between the weekly pro-Palestine protests that have continued since October 2023. At their latest protest on the afternoon of Jan. 4, thousands of protesters gathered in front of the Israeli consulate before marching downtown.

The Palestinian Youth Movement’s next protest is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Jan. 14 at 730 rue Cathcart. It will mark 100 days since the “Zionist-American aggression and genocidal campaign,” according to the group’s Instagram page. 

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