Hundreds of people stood together: waving flags, holding signs, and cuddling their children who came to march with them. People held hands, listened deeply to the speakers, cried tears of heartbreak mixed with hope, and chanted loud calls for peace into the crisp afternoon air.
As we stood alongside everyone there, we heard a number of powerful speakers…
…a Jewish mother who spoke in solidarity with Palestinians – calling for an end to this genocide by the state of Israel and saying emphatically, “not in my name!”
…a Palestinian mother who spoke about her complicated grief and gratitude as she moves throughout each day. She talked about how each time she places dinner on the table for her children – knowing that thousands of children just like hers are dying from bombings, dehydration and starvation in Gaza right now – she feels a sharp pang of grief. How when she holds her children close, she feels deep gratitude for her children’s safety mixed with sadness for those thousands of parents who have lost their children, and don’t even have the chance to bury them.
…an Indigenous trauma counsellor (wu’Was’ulwat from the Snuneymuxw and Saanich nations) who spoke about the impacts of colonialism here on Turtle Island* and in Palestine, and how to stand in solidarity with all Indigenous people around the world.
… a Palestinian Imam (the leader of a Muslim Mosque) talk about how families in Gaza are writing their names on all of their limbs, so if they are bombed (and only an arm or leg is found) families will be able to identify their loved ones body parts 💔
We listened to beautiful children, some as young as five, lead chants like “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!” with hope for the future in their voices.
We watched as an endlessly long banner was unfurled and carried down the street, showing the names of the Palestinians (most of them children) who have been killed so far by the state of Israel. The banner was so long we could barely see where it ended. 💔💔💔
It felt incredibly powerful to take our grief and channel it collectively in this call for freedom for Palestine. Throughout the afternoon, we shed many many tears, held hands, moved our bodies and marched together through the streets of Downtown. As a collective, we raised our voices to call for an end to this horrific genocide.
As an organization of counsellors whose work it is to help people heal from trauma, it is vital that we are critical of the systems that create that trauma — including colonialism, racism, and imperialism. Our work is incomplete if we only help people recover from trauma, without doing the work to stop that trauma from occurring in the first place.
This is not about taking sides. This is about upholding and standing for the right to safety, dignity and freedom for all people, everywhere. None of us are free until all of us are free. 🇵🇸🙏🏼❤️
*Turtle Island is the name some Indigenous people use to refer to the lands now known as North and Central America.