A few hundred people gathered at the Kelowna Courthouse on Nov. 12 to pay respects to the children in Gaza whose lives have been disrupted or ended by the war in the Middle East.
Debbie Hubbard with Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East - Okanagan Chapter opened the vigil.
“We want our government to open their hearts and act as leaders of justice and equity for all people of Palestine and Israel. We want a ceasefire. We want an end to the occupation.”
The crowd was filled with people of all ages holding various signs and waving Palestinian flags.
A poem by a Palestine-American was read in both Arabic and English, written from the perspective of a fearful child in the middle of the war.
A scroll was rolled out of the steps of the courthouse by Palestine-Canadian Haneen, who identified himself only by his first name. He has participated in previous walks and events at the University of B.C. Okanagan. The scroll lists all the names of the people who died in the Israel-Palestine conflict between Oct. 7 and Oct. 26.
“When we were working on compiling this list, I was scrolling through the list and I was looking at the last names and I realized I was looking at my grandmother’s last name. I checked and I went through the list and there were 46 members of her family. So, then I went and I looked for my mother’s last name. There were 51 names from her family. The names on this list, they’re all people, they all had lives, and they all had futures. There are 97 names on this list of people that I should have met at a family gathering or a wedding… but instead, I learn their names by reading this list.”
The vigil began at 3 p.m. and concluded with a march around downtown Kelowna to raise awareness.