Mar. 30 marks the annual Palestinian Land Day. This year, Waterloo Region saw its first ever Land Day Commemoration on Mar. 11 at Willow River Park Pavilion.
Around 200 local Palestinian and non-Palestinian community members came together to enjoy a night of culture, observance, history and celebration.
The event was hosted by Sporas Scattered, a local organization focused on giving young Palestinians within the diaspora the resources to connect with their Palestinian identity, culture and traditions.
“Our goal is to directly work to unite the Palestinian youth within the diaspora locally here in Kitchener- Waterloo and provide them with educational platforms to connect, uplift and encourage pride in their Palestinian identity and roots,” a representative said.
“We recognize the huge gap between the diaspora and the access to their culture, history and homeland, and we work to try to fill that gap by providing accessible and educational platforms on sites such as Instagram and Facebook. We also organize opportunities for people to directly engage in culture practices and events such as Land Day,” they said.
The event featured food from Kunafa King in Ajax and local restaurant Arabesque Cafe. The night also included poetry from Palestinian Poet Mohamed El-Chanti and music from Hala Ayyad, Cultural and Historical speakers, as well as live Dabke, raffles and trivia.
Land Day dates back to Mar. 30, 1976, when Israeli Occupation forces killed six unarmed Palestinian protestors.
“On that day alone, over 2000 hectares of agricultural and livable Palestinian land was stolen by the Occupation,” the Sporas representative said.
“Since that day, Mar. 30 has become a day of remembrance, commemoration and a reminder that we will one day return to our land as free people,” they said.
Palestinians in Palestine and within the diaspora continue to observe the day by focusing on educating their communities, more specifically teaching their youth as to why the Land is so important to the Palestinian identity and the fight for liberation.
While this was a Palestinian cultural event, it was open to anyone who wanted to come and observe alongside their Palestinian neighbours.
Beisan Zubi, a former candidate for the NDP party from Kitchener-Centre and equity and social responsibility consultant, was present at the event.
She was excited to see younger Palestinian-Canadians taking initiatives in the community.
“Not a lot of people realize that SporasScattered is young people who are reclaiming their Palestinian identity with pride and I think that’s a really special thing and a really important sign of our community coming together more,” she said.
“It was great to see non-Palestinians at these events as well. It’s great to see connections and bridges being built in experiencing the beauty of our culture and learning about the heritage of the Palestinian people, especially understanding the struggles our people have faced against oppression,” Zubi said.
Sporas Scattered hopes to continue an annual event observing Land Day in the region. In 2022, they hosted the first annual Palestinian Festival at the Kitchener Centennial Stadium and they are currently in the process of organizing this year’s festival, which will occur sometime this summer.
For more information or to stay updated on future events, you can follow Sporas Scattered Instagram page @SPORASSCATTERED and their Facebook page @sporas123