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Cumberland Council votes to support a ceasefire in Gaza

Courtenay declined the demand made by local activist group Action 4 Palestine
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Community members take a photo after presenting to Cumberland Village council on March 25. Photo submitted

The Cumberland Council became the first municipality in the Comox Valley to endorse a ceasefire in Gaza, on April 8.

Councillors unanimously agreed with the local group Comox Valley 4 Palestine’s request to write a letter urging the federal government to call for the stoppage.

“It’s obviously not our jurisdiction to decide whether or not to… be involved in international conflicts,” Cumberland Mayor Vickey Brown told the Record. “But it is our responsibility to listen to our residents and take their requests seriously.

“Municipal governments are the closest level of government to their residents… and they’re looking to (us) to advocate on their behalf. We have a responsibility to share that information if our community thinks that it’s important.”

Members of the delegation greeted the news with enthusiasm.

“Cumberland council’s decision promotes compassion… and pressures the federal government to advocate for peace in Gaza,” said group member Heather Thomson. “It’s really important that our municipal council is taking a stand against violence.”

This decision comes after a presentation by the activist group to the village’s council on March 25.

The delegation, which included Palestinian-Canadian and Jewish residents of Cumberland, requested additional demands including: restricting the sale of arms to Israel; allowing humanitarian aid (medical supplies, water, food, fuel, etc.) into Gaza; providing ongoing funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency; removing barriers for Palestinian visa and immigration applications; and supporting South Africa in the International Court of Justice case for the Israeli genocide.

More than 370 people have signed a paper and online petition calling for all Comox Valley municipalities to support the same demands.

The Village of Cumberland follows the precedents of other Canadian municipalities that have endorsed a ceasefire, including Port Alberni, Powell River, Burnaby, Langley, and more.

Courtenay declines the group’s request

Comox Valley 4 Palestine presented the same request to Courtenay’s council on April 10, where they were met with a sobering reception.

Coun. Doug Hillian, while empathizing with the people of Gaza, opposed the sending of this letter, making him the first and only council member to share his opinion on the matter.

“There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that the current situation in Gaza is an affront to humanity,” said Hillian. “But I don’t see this as a situation that is in the interest of the City of Courtenay to engage in. We don’t have jurisdiction in international issues. There are many (other) situations in the world like Yemen (or) Sudan where untold horrors are taking place on a daily basis and we don’t pass resolutions or take a stance on those. It’s not because we don’t care, it’s because our business is the affair of the City of Courtenay.

“I don’t see anything to be gained by taking this as a business for the City of Courtenay given the division that it has created in other communities.”

Following Hillian address, the council voted unanimously to take no further action on the group’s request.

Comox Valley 4 Palestine intends to send a delegation to the Town of Comox in the near future.

RELATED: UN demands Gaza ceasefire for Ramadan, first such call since conflict began

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Olivier Laurin

About the Author: Olivier Laurin

I’m a bilingual multimedia journalist from Montréal who began my journalistic journey on Vancouver Island with The Comox Valley Record in 2023.
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