Kingston Peace Council holds panel to discuss colonialism

‘We must undermine the idea that this is all happening over there’ 

“From Turtle Island to Sheikh Jarrah” brought together speakers from various academic backgrounds.
Journal File Photo
On Jun. 29, the Kingston Peace Council held “From Turtle Island to Sheikh Jarrah: A Panel on State Violence and Palestine.” 
The panel hosted Yara Hussein, ArtSci ’22, Adnan Husain, associate professor at Queen’s, and Miguel Figueroa, president of the Canadian Peace Congress. 
Sean McNeil, panel moderator, asked speakers a series of questions about settler colonialism and decolonial action that Canadians can take moving forward.
Panelists began by providing context on the lasting impacts of imperialism and its relations to various social movements today. 
“Bringing all social movements—the working-class movement, the women’s movement, the Indigenous peoples’ movement—together and finding a common basis is finding a common enemy. That common enemy is imperialism,” Figueroa said. 
“Imperialism superimposes on people to forment division and profit from their own interests. From the perspective of the Peace Congress, we say we’re an anti-imperialist organization for this reason.” 
McNeil asked how it makes a community feel when their story is only told by those outside their community. 
He referred to instances where non-Palestinian NGOs, companies, and Canadians speak on what Palestinians need and should do.
“I’m not Palestinian or Indigenous but sometimes we’re conflicted with the complexity of the issue and seeing both sides. The cause for justice is very simple when you see dispossession and genocide on one side, that is settler colonialism,” Husain said. 
“When you express solidarity and attempt to be an ally, it’s crucial to understand the leadership of the struggle and the demands being made.” 
McNeil also asked what Canadians can do to be allies for marginalized populations here and abroad. 
“See how the Canadian government is involved in diplomacy and international bodies, look at how Canadian companies’ relationships link to oppressive powers and consciously act accordingly,” Husain said. 
“We must undermine the idea that ‘this is all happening over there.’ Imperialism functions here and abroad.” 
Hussein added that actions like encouraging universities or places of work to stop supporting oppressive entities can all help reduce oppressive messaging.
“Governmentally, we must vote for leaders who are not so open in supporting white supremacy or colonialism and put pressure on current leaders who do support these ideals wherever in the world.”
Figueroa reaffirmed that Canadians are becoming more conscious now of how they may contribute to colonialism and imperialism. 
He referred to the recent spike in attention being drawn to Canadians’ perception of Palestine and Palestinians.
“My sense is there has been a palpable change in the way a lot of Canadians are understanding the question of Palestine.”

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