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Port Alberni joins growing list of cities calling for ceasefire in Gaza

Port Alberni residents ask council to send letter to Prime Minister
Desiree Wallace, along with a crowd of supporters, speaks to Port Alberni city council on Dec. 11, 2023. (SCREENSHOT)

Port Alberni has added its name to a list of B.C. municipalities calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Dozens of people filled council chambers on Dec. 11 to request that Port Alberni council call for urgent action from the Canadian government on the violence happening in Palestine between Israel and Hamas.

“This worsening genocide has serious impacts on community members living here in Port Alberni,” said one speaker, Desiree Wallace. “We collectively believe that a ceasefire is a just call for peace, protecting the sanctity of all civilian life.”

A Palestinian resident of Port Alberni shared her stories from family members still living in Palestine who are struggling to feed themselves and access health care.

“I have a four-year-old cousin who died crying for her mom,” she said. “There are too many stories to mention.”

Both she and Wallace told council that international pressure is needed to put an end to violence, and encouraged council to write a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asking for a ceasefire.

“I’m here not to plead for the humanity or prove the humanity of Palestinians, but I’m hoping to see our humanity here today in support of the Palestinian people,” she said.

Port Alberni councillor Dustin Dame signed an open letter to the Canadian government earlier this year calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. Dame, who was acting as mayor on Dec. 11, spoke in favour of the motion.

READ MORE: 59 B.C. politicians sign letter calling for ceasefire in Gaza

“This is one of those situations where our voice feels small, but we have a voice nonetheless,” he said.

Councillor Debbie Haggard, who was moved to tears by the presentation, said the situation in Gaza is a “complicated issue” and also voted to support the motion.

Councillor Todd Patola, however, didn’t mince words in calling the situation a genocide.

“I stand for pacifism, and I stand against genocide,” he said before supporting the motion.

Council ultimately voted to write a letter to Trudeau requesting that the federal government call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and voted to send a copy of the letter to Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns. Port Alberni now joins several other B.C. municipalities including Burnaby, Maple Ridge and Nelson in calling for a ceasefire.

Port Alberni council also voted to condemn all acts of anti-Palestinian racism, Islamophobia and antisemitism in the community and commit to working to ensure the community is just, safe and welcoming for all.

Just a day after the Port Alberni council meeting, Canada voted at the United Nations in favour of a resolution calling for ceasefire in Gaza.

READ MORE: Canada breaks with usual policy, votes for immediate Gaza ceasefire

Elena Rardon

About the Author: Elena Rardon

I have worked with the Alberni Valley News since 2016.
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