Content warning: The statement mentions genocide, ethnic cleansing, and violence.
The Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) affirms its solidarity with Palestinian people in their ongoing fight against settler-colonialism, apartheid, occupation, and genocide. For 75 years, Palestinians have been subject to extreme systemic violence due to the ongoing Zionist occupation through a process of settler-colonialism, and ethnic cleansing. Since October 7th, over a million Palestinians have been displaced, and more than 4000 have been killed, including more than 1600 children due to the attacks on Gaza by the state of Israel. These targeted attacks have left many civilian infrastructures such as hospitals and places of worship, intentionally destroyed. Palestinians in Gaza have been living in the largest open-air prison for far too long, under a land, water and sea blockade that has only worsened since October 7th as more people have been displaced and forced into a smaller area without access to water, food, or medical aid amidst an ongoing genocide. Last night, Israeli airstrikes continued on Gaza, some of the heaviest attacks since October 7th, only continuing the violence and genocide inflicted on Palestinian people.
Historically, the student movement has played an imperative role at dismantling oppression and seeking change worldwide, and Palestine is no exception: from coast to coast, students continue to call for an immediate stop to the bombing of Gaza, an immediate end to the siege, and a free and liberated Palestine. We uplift the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and resistance, and remain rooted in the understanding that colonized people have the right to resist the processes of settler-colonialism they are experiencing, from Turtle Island to Palestine.
We are seeing the further development of a narrative that seeks to minimize the reality of Palestinians, protect Israel’s war crimes, and villainize supporters of justice. This narrative is not new; corporations, institutions, and governments who historically and continue to exercise and benefit from settler colonialism in so-called Canada continue to actively build and uphold it due to their complicity and investment in Israel’s settler colonial destruction and dispossession of Palestinians. We see through mainstream reporting on this issue, and through intentional language choices used to describe the brutal apartheid and occupation as merely a conflict, serves to obfuscate the ongoing atrocities inflicted on Palestinians for 75 years. Let it be clear, genocide is not a conflict. It never was.
Throughout the past few weeks, there have been an onslaught of attacks on students’ unions who have been calling for justice and showing solidarity with Palestine, attacks with every effort to undermine student union autonomy and student safety. From the significant increase in heavy campus security and police presence on campuses specifically targeting and surveilling students, clubs, and groups demonstrating solidarity with Palestine, to the various threats to student unions and their autonomy in hopes of silencing oppressed voices, Post-Secondary institutions are blatantly censoring students who are challenging the settler-colonial discourse. However, these attacks have not happened without the support and endorsement of all levels of government. Last week, Ontario Minister of Colleges and Universities, Jill Dunlop, read out the names of student union executives from several students unions in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario; this occurrence took place following a meeting the Minister had with a number of University administrators. These actions have purposely and maliciously jeopardized the safety of student unions and their leaders who have called for justice for Palestinian lives.
The Federation vehemently condemns the actions of the Ontario Minister of Colleges and Universities for directly interfering with student union autonomy on free speech to advocate for Palestinian liberation, for her intentional misrepresentations of the students’ unions and their solidarity, and for the reckless and harmful behaviour displayed within the Legislative Assembly. The censorship and retaliation faced by students for showing support and solidarity for Palestinians is a dangerous and abhorrent precedent that the Ontario government and Post-Secondary institutions are creating. This position taken by the Ontario government has not only placed student supporters of Palestine at risk but also directly harms Palestinian students as the government openly supports the oppressor and stands in opposition of the oppressed. There is no place for governments to interfere, or encourage interference via University administrations with the democratic decisions, processes, and autonomy of student unions – this interference must immediately stop.
Now is not the time to remain silent or idle in regards to the ongoing genocide. Time and time again, and very much to the present day - Western media news outlets, governments, Post-Secondary Institutions and educational curricula continue to perpetuate the settler-colonial narrative that defends and celebrates genocide, ethnic cleansing and settler violence. We have a collective and moral duty, as a society, to challenge the history that is being portrayed and, to resist and dismantle the oppression faced by Indigenous peoples from Turtle Island to Palestine.
We, the Canadian Federation of Students, reaffirm our commitment to the Palestinian struggle. We continue to call on Post-Secondary institutions and all levels of government and to end their complicity in apartheid and genocide via divesting from arms and weapons manufacturers and amplifying public support for such calls to action.
The call for liberation of Palestinian people will not stop until they are all free.
The Canadian Federation of Students represents over 530,000 students, it is the largest and oldest national students’ unions representing both domestic and international students in universities and colleges, including undergraduate, graduate, full-time and part-time students.
For further information on the campaign or to set up an interview, contact: Brandon Rhéal Amyot, National Chairperson, at firstname.lastname@example.org.