Ottawa school students protest discrimination of Palestinian people

Hundreds of students walked out of class Wednesday morning at a Catholic high school in Gloucester to protest discrimination of Palestinian people.

More than 300 students left their classes at St. Francis Xavier High School at 9:25 a.m.

"The Catholic school board are showing no attention to Palestine through this whole crisis," said Anas Arif, a student who was involved in the rally. "They have shown attention to other causes, but when it comes to Palestine, it’s a gray area."

Students from grades 9 to 12 walked out during the school’s first period. 

"I’m here because I support Palestine fully," said Jenna Mustapha, a Grade 11 student. "They’ve been through years and years of genocide and I think it’s really good for us as a school to be protesting because they don’t really get a lot of air, like nobody really knows what’s going on in Palestine."

The group went down Limebank Road to Earl Armstrong Road, carrying flags and a banner.

"I’m here to support the protest for Palestine," said Lana Alhumsi, a Grade 11 student. "This is a really big thing for me because I have family affected in the occupation of Palestine."

A spokesperson for the Ottawa Catholic School Board was not available to comment on camera, but in a statement the board said, "The school respects the right of students to advocate for issues that are important to them. We encourage students to meet with members of their administrative team to discuss ways to express their concerns while not disrupting their class attendance."

The board says around 100 students of the 300 that walked out, did go back to class after the protest. 

"We all came together for one main cause and that’s to raise awareness and hopefully the school board will see and they will be motivated to help other students raise awareness, raise funds, and help in any way possible," said Arif.

The board says parents were notified of the planned protest on Tuesday. 

A spokesperson says the principal has now reached out to the Association of Palestinian Arab Canadians Capital Region for further discussions as a school community.