Pilgrimages throughout April and May led to Ottawa event on May 22 with partners and church leaders

National Church Leaders Call for Peace in Palestine and Israel March on Parliament Hill, Ottawa, May 22, 2024
Published On: June 6, 2024

By the numbers, from mid-April to mid-May:

  • 5 calls to action were outlined in the KAIROS Gaza Ceasefire Pilgrimage campaign.
  • 150 ecumenical congregations from Victoria, BC, to St. John’s, NL, participated in the pilgrimages in their local communities.
  • 10,000+ collective kilometres were logged.
  • 6 denominations’ leaders participated in the pilgrimage to Parliament Hill on May 22.
  • 200 people walked with them.
  • 3 of the pilgrimage participants in Ottawa had just returned from the region in the Middle East earlier in the week.

In an act of pilgrimage and in solidarity with partners in Palestine and Israel, leadership from several KAIROS Canada member denominations and church agencies built on community Gaza Ceasefire Pilgrimages held throughout March, April, and May by walking to Parliament Hill on May 22, where they held a prayer vigil and a press conference. They also met with MPs and government officials from key portfolios. Palestinian-Canadian Christians also recounted the experiences of Palestinians in Gaza and urged the Canadian government to uphold human rights and fully comply with international law.

Canadian Friends of Sabeel and other partners were among those who spoke at the prayer vigil. Church leaders represented The United Church of Canada, the Anglican Church of Canada, The Presbyterian Church in Canada, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Canada, The Mennonite Church, the Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers), and KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives. They conveyed the call of Canadian churches for:

  1. Immediate and sustained ceasefire
  2. Immediate flow of life-saving food, water, aid, fuel, and humanitarian assistance
  3. Release of all captives
  4. End all arms transfers to Israel
  5. End of occupation so a just peace can begin

Three leaders had just returned from solidarity visits with partners in Palestine and Israel earlier in the week, and shared with MPs and government officials the challenge from partners to name honestly and accurately what is happening in Gaza and the West Bank. The church leaders met with:

  • the parliamentary secretaries for the ministers of Foreign Affairs, Immigration and International Development
  • members of the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs committee and its International Human Rights subcommittee
  • the Canadian Representative to the Palestinian authority

“We need to keep up the pressure. Community pilgrimages are important to showing solidarity to global partners and building momentum towards government action,” said Emily Dwyer, The United Church of Canada’s Government Relations Officer.

The church leaders urged the politicians to take strong, more decisive action to respond to the gravity of the situation in Gaza and the West Bank; ensure Canada complies with its obligations under international law, including the processes underway by the International Court of Justice and International Criminal Court; and contribute to a just and lasting peace for Palestinians and Israelis. 

News Type