In recent months, Fredericton has seen a notable increase in pro-Palestinian activism. Every Saturday, protestors demonstrate outside of City Hall. Their demands? Justice for Palestinians, the end of the occupation, and a ceasefire. Under these circumstances, students from UNB and STU have taken it upon themselves to organize on-campus. 


Two walk-outs for Palestine have taken place at UNB. The first was on November 21st, and the second on November 29th. These walk-outs were organized by UNB Palestine Solidarity (@unbpalestinesolidarity), who describe themselves as an independent group that is unaffiliated with the University. 


The Brunswickan spoke to Laila Solemani,  a 2nd-year Psychology student and one of the student organizers on the UNB campus. Solemani explained the purpose of the walkouts: “We have decided to do this walkout to call for a ceasefire now in Gaza, and to demand proper education [about] Palestine’s history, and recognition that Israel is a settler colonial state.”


Regarding the University’s stance, Solemani said: “We just asked if it was possible to walk out on campus, and they said we were free to speak and to take a stand for our beliefs, and they respect and encourage that.” However, she noted, “They cannot endorse it.”


UNB’s sole statement about Israel and Palestine was issued on November 9 ahead of Remembrance Day. In this statement, Paul Mazerolle stated, “Recent international conflicts have led many people in Canada to feel unsafe.” He voiced his concern and emphasized, “That all forms of racism, discrimination, and hate, including anti-Arab, anti-Israeli, and anti-Palestinian rhetoric have no place at UNB.”


Solemani expressed dissatisfaction with UNB’s response, stating, “We actually want the university to share more awareness about this conflict between Palestine and Israel.” She continued, “They said that they were neutral, but I don’t think that this is something like the right thing to do to be neutral in such situations.”


She emphasized the need for the University to take a stance, saying, “They should stand with Palestinian rights and justice and share more awareness about Palestine’s history.” Adding, “Lots of people don’t know what Palestinians have been experiencing for 75 years, from the beginning of Israeli occupation.”


Solemani reported decent turnout for the walkouts, noting, “We have had two walk-outs, [but] we actually had a better turnout in the first one.” She surmised the cold kept some people away, “But we still had a good turnout, some people came from outside the university, people that are not students, also students from high school and professors.”


Solemani criticized the media’s coverage of Palestinian solidarity in Fredericton, stating, “I don’t think they have covered enough.” She highlighted a gap in reporting, noting, “Even the news that I see don’t really share [the] exact demands of all these protests we are trying to do.”

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