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Queers Against Israeli Apartheid marches in Edmonton Pride

Edmonton group formed after the Gaza flotilla raid

Credit: Photo by Paula E Kirman
Click here to read Xtra‘s coverage of the Pride Toronto censorship issue
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UPDATE, JUNE 14: Queers Against Israeli Apartheid marched in the Edmonton Pride parade on Saturday. QuAIA Edmonton member Rob Butz says that the group’s participation “took place from start to finish without incident…. Our experience in Edmonton reflects Pride’s capacity to embrace difference.”

Pictures below by Paula E Kirman and Karen Campos. Thanks to Vivek Shraya for passing them on:

 

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THURSDAY, JUNE 10: An Edmonton chapter of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) has received the go-ahead from Edmonton Pride to march in the parade on Saturday.

The group of about five to 10 people formed May 31 — after the Israeli attack on the Gaza aid flotilla — to stand in solidarity with Toronto QuAIA. The Toronto chapter is prohibited from marching in the parade after Pride Toronto banned the words “Israeli apartheid” from its events.

“They [Edmonton Pride] have been pretty good,” says Jess Warren, co-organizer of Edmonton QuAIA, adding that the only warning the group received was to be mindful that the parade is a family-friendly event.

“So far in Edmonton we haven’t received the kind of censorship or condemnation that Queers Against Israeli Apartheid in Toronto have gotten,” she says.

Sandi Stetson, festival manager of Edmonton Pride, declined to comment, saying the parade is about queer pride.

“We’re not going to answer anything about any particular entry to the parade,” she says. “There’s no need to talk about that.”

Warren doesn’t anticipate any conflict at the Edmonton Pride parade on Saturday and welcomes discussion.

She says it’s important for QuAIA to have a presence at the parade, because Pride is historically a political act.

“To say that political messages — or at least political messages that are seen by certain people as unrelated to queer issues — shouldn’t be present, I think, is only considering the recent history of Pride,” says Warren. “The corporatization of Pride has led to this idea. Pride in general is a venue at which we can actually raise our voice and say that as a queer community this is something that concerns us.”

At the parade on Saturday, members of Edmonton QuAIA will carry banners that read: “There’s no pride in apartheid” and “Free Palestine.”

Warren says the group plans to continue educating the queer community after the parade about what it means to be in solidarity with Palestine. Its members also plan to make connections with queers living in Palestine.

“As queers, we have a responsibility and a great ability to be great activists as far as recognizing oppression and standing up against it no matter who it’s directed at,” says Warren.

She says the censorship of Toronto QuAIA is a continuation of the attempt by governments and corporations to silence dissent.

“As a Canadian, as someone who believes in the right of people to speak out against oppression, it is an issue of free speech for sure, but… it’s an issue of silencing those who want to stand in solidarity with Palestine — it’s directly linked to that,” she says.

Edmonton QuAIA has put a call out to those who want to stand in solidarity with the group. Anyone who wishes to march in the parade with Edmonton QuAIA is asked to meet at Jasper Avenue and 108th St in Edmonton on Saturday between noon and 1pm.