Saturday, August 9th was a beautiful, albeit steamy day in Winnipeg, for a peaceful demonstration in support the Palestinian people still under attack in Gaza.
Members of Palestinian organizations and peace groups gave speeches at the Manitoba legislature before we marched down Broadway to Fort Street and then up to St. Mary’s Avenue and back to the legislature. Palestinian flags and colourful placards were visible everywhere in the crowd and the people chanted throughout the march: “Israel, U.S.A., how many kids have you killed today?” and “Israel, Stop the Slaughter, Gaza Must Have Food and Water!”.
Highlights included a large banner set up on the steps of the legislature where participants had the opportunity to write the names of those killed in Gaza recently as well as a message of peace. Many children were in attendance and they spent much time signing the banner. People came dressed in tee-shirts emblazoned with messages of support for Palestine as well the peace symbol was ever-present.
I noticed one tee-shirt a young mas wearing that said “The Road is Long….So What?”, and I found this message especially inspiring. T
Particularly emotional was the speech given by a local man from Gaza who had recently lost 10 members of his family in the Israeli attacks including an infant. Leslie Spillet, a local Aboriginal leader, spoke eloquently about colonialism in Canada and the analogy between exploitation of our own indigenous peoples and Israel’s treatment of the indigenous Palestinians. Spillet stressed that Canada’s Aboriginal populations will never give up the fight for their treaty rights in Canada. She also said that the killings in Gaza were so unimaginable there really were no words to describe them,
At the end of the event the organizers stressed that everyone in attendance can continue to make a difference when they go home. Liz Carlyle of the Winnipeg Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid encouraged people to write letters, to the local newspapers as well as to their Members of Parliament in Ottawa asking them to take action to end the slaughter in Gaza.
At the beginning of the rally we were unsure if an actual march was going to take place, interestingly, one of the Winnipeg Police Service escorts in attendance, actually encouraged us to march, saying we had the numbers for it and it was important.
All in all it was an inspiring day, yet also a reminder that there is still so much work to do.