People carry a large banner for the Gaza Ceasefire Pilgrimage in Victoria, BC.
The Gaza Ceasefire Pilgrimage Walk in Victoria, BC, on March 16. Over 200 people participated over the course, with 50 people doing the entire walk. This walk was co-sponsored by KAIROS Victoria and Broad View United.
Credit: Susan Draper
Published On: May 15, 2024

In a call for a lasting and just peace in the Middle East, leaders from several national churches will converge on Parliament Hill on May 22, at the end of a Week of Action May 15–22, urging for a ceasefire in Palestine and Israel. They are part of the Gaza Ceasefire Pilgrimage: Canadian Churches for Just Peace, an initiative organized by KAIROS Canada and its member churches, and builds on the Gaza Ceasefire Pilgrimage.

“As a national community of churches, we are lifting up the people of Gaza, and all who live in Israel and Palestine, and praying for peace with justice for all. I call on Canada to live into its commitments to uphold human rights so that everyone can live in safety and with dignity,” said Leah Reesor-Keller, Transitional Executive Director, KAIROS Canada. “On May 22, I am joining fellow faith leaders and people of faith and conscience from across Canada to say with our words and with the presence of our bodies that we must stand up to witness for a ceasefire and a just peace.”

joint statement from the Canadian Friends Service Committee and Quaker organizations worldwide noted: “Even in this time of violence and pain, we hold the belief that a different future, free from injustice and violence, is possible. Lasting peace and reconciliation will be realized when both past and ongoing injustices are acknowledged and addressed, ensuring freedom, dignity, equal rights, and justice for all people living in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Let us work together to make this vision a reality.”

After walking some distance in their own communities, leaders will finish their pilgrimage by walking 1.5 kilometres in Ottawa to Parliament Hill on May 22, where there will be prayers for a just peace for all in Palestine and Israel, speeches, a press conference at noon at the Press Gallery, and meetings with parliamentarians.

Leaders confirmed to attend are: The Right Rev. Dr. Carmen Lansdowne, Moderator of The United Church of Canada; Rev. Susan Johnson, National Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada; and Leah Reesor-Keller, Transitional Executive Director, KAIROS Canada. The Presbyterian Church in Canada will also participate. More confirmations to come.

“We believe that all people are made in the image of God. And we believe in the power of prayer to alleviate human suffering and conflict. I am grateful to walk in this prayer vigil with my sisters in faith, for the people of Gaza, for the hostages, and for a sustained ceasefire and a just peace,” said The Right Rev. Dr. Carmen Lansdowne. The Rev. Susan C. Johnson noted, “I welcome the opportunity to walk and pray for a just peace in the land we call Holy, and to publicly call for a ceasefire and the immediate flow of humanitarian aid.” 

The participating churches and Christian organizations call on the Government of Canada for:

  • An enduring and sustained ceasefire.
  • Immediate flow of life-saving food, water, aid, fuel, and humanitarian assistance.
  • Release of all captives.
  • End all arms transfers to Israel.
  • Ending occupation so a just peace can begin.

Across Canada, through April and May, congregations and communities of faith are mobilizing for a just peace in Palestine and Israel. Participants walked or rolled together in their home communities for all or part of 41 kilometres—the length of the Gaza strip—by May 13. The Toronto: Gaza Ceasefire Pilgrimage covered 41 kilometres along Bloor Street and Danforth Avenue, beginning at Bloordale United in Etobicoke on May 11 and ending at Bill Hancox Park, near the Rouge Hill GO Station in Scarborough on May 12.

Other actions during the Week of Action include:

  • Plant a tree: In memory of all the Palestinian and Israeli children who have died in the violence.
  • May 15–Nakba Day (also known as the Palestinian Catastrophe): Calls for a general strike locally and globally, for those who are able.
  • Hold a vigil or prayer service: In front of the offices of Members of Parliament. Reiterate the Calls that support a just peace in the region to MPs and their staff.
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