The organization Mennonite Action staged nine protests at government offices yesterday across Canada: in Tavistock, ON; Waterloo, ON; Scarborough, ON; Niagra, ON; St. Catherines, ON; Winnipeg, MB; Edmonton, AB; Nelson, BC; and Abbotsford, BC. Protests were also held throughout the United States.
During Tuesday’s events, Mennonite protesters from across denominations urged their elected representatives to push for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, to stop the flow of weapons into Israel and for increased diplomacy to end the occupation of Palestine.
In Winnipeg, over 100 people prayed, sang hymns and shared their personal stories of deep mourning at the office of Liberal MP Dan Vandal.
“The words of grief and abandonment in an Open Letter to Western Church Leaders from Palestinian Christians are what called me to this action,” said Karla Braun, part of the organizing team in Winnipeg and a member of Crossroads MB Church, Winnipeg.
“Today, we gathered as Mennonites to encourage our Palestinian brothers and sisters in Christ, and to call for government actors to heed Jesus’ words to ‘put away your sword’ (Matthew 26:52). We held church in the parking lot of the MP’s office, and raised our prayers, songs and testimonies to encourage Palestine sumud (steadfastness) in hope for liberation, in nonviolence and in honouring the dignity of all people,” said Braun.
James Alty, another member of Crossroads MB Church was also at Tuesday’s event. He recently returned to Canada after spending four years serving with Mennonite Central Committee in Israel and Palestine. Before that, he spent 11 years in South Africa; he said his experiences in a post-Apartheid reality give him hope for a peaceful future for Israel and Palestine. “It takes years of patience and ingenuity to build peace,” Alty said. But in South Africa, “the impossible became possible in part through the work of the church.”
Mennonite Action is a grassroots movement that began a number of weeks ago in response to the war in Palestine-Israel. The events on Tuesday were the movement’s first public actions.
Photo by Michael Veith.