Canadian BDS Coalition Statement on Student Activism

The Canadian BDS Coalition congratulates the Kings BDS Network at the University of Western Ontario and (SPHR) at the University of British Columbia

The Canadian BDS Coalition congratulates the Kings BDS Network at the University of Western Ontario and the Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR) at the University of British Columbia

At King’s University College at University of Western Ontario, 76% of the students who cast a vote in a recent referendum supported their student council in lobbying the King’s administration to boycott and divest from companies complicit in human rights violations against Palestinians.

Implementation will be based by King’s University College Student Council (KUSC) on a resolution that brought results from this referendum along with another referendum on fossil fuel divestment to their March 19, 2017 Annual General Meeting.

The approved resolution mandates the student council to lobby King’s administration to boycott and divest from any and all companies and products complicit with Israeli occupation based on principles of human rights, labour, environment, and anti-corruption. It also calls on KUCSC to research and write an annual Advocacy Paper on ethical investments and divestments that will include a five-year plan for ethical investing.

On March 30, 2017, the SPHR at University of British Columbia had a ground-breaking victory when a British Columbia Supreme Court judge brought down his ruling and dismissed a case to stop a boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) referendum.

This occurred when pro-Israel advocates took this issue to the British Columbia Supreme Court, after being unsuccessful in getting the student union (known as the AMS Student Society) to refer the issue to a student court to decide on the “legality” of the referendum question. The ambiguity of the question was not an issue in 2015, but simply another excuse to stall and keep the referendum from going forward, and was linked to a goal to decouple the referendum from a student election vote, which would have resulted in quorum. The BC Supreme Court decision is a significant victory and stops a dangerous precedent from being set.

This action of taking a student union referendum to a provincial Supreme Court, speaks to the war that the Israeli government and its lobbyists around the world have called against those supporting the Palestinian-led global movement of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) for freedom, justice and equality.

These student successes come on the heels of the Government of Israel multi-day detainment and interrogating the co-founder of the BDS movement, Omar Barghouti as part of the Government’s “tarnishing” propaganda effort to silence Barghouti and repress the BDS movement.

Without question, the ratcheted-up aggressive use of Israeli legislation and tactics is combined with passing legislation in other countries and whatever legal options can be manipulated to delay, deny and silence all discussion of global BDS campaigns.

The Canadian BDS Coalition recognizes the courage and steadfastness of the students at King’s University College and the University of British Columbia in upholding the simple principle of BDS—the principle, that Palestinians are entitled to the same rights as the rest of humanity.

The Canadian BDS Coalition is comprised of groups in Canada that support the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) call for boycott, divestment and sanctions targeting Israel’s system of settler-colonialism, occupation, and apartheid towards the Palestinian people. Members of the Coalition share a common commitment to pursuing peace in Palestine/Israel through the realization of freedom, justice, and equality for Palestinians, without which a lasting peace is impossible to achieve.

However, Coalition members are not alone. An EKOS poll conducted in February 2017 found that 66 per cent of Canadians are receptive to Canada imposing sanctions on Israel and 78% consider the Palestinian call to boycott to be a “reasonable” response to Israel over Israel’s violations of international human rights law.

The continued success of boycott, divestment and sanctions affirms the stand of Canadians against the apartheid actions and policies of the Government of Israel and the military abetted settler-colonialist occupation of Palestine, and the expectation that the Canadian government will reflect this sentiment.

Canadian BDS Coalition
April 5, 2017