In late July, over 4000 people came out to Angrignon Park in Montreal for the city's first ever Palestinian festival. Organized by the Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM), a grassroots youth organization with chapters across Canada and the U.S, the festival featured musical performances, food and artisanal vendors, a traditional wedding, and various cultural activities.
Sara, an organizer with PYM, gave North Star some context behind the festival: "We are over 20 Arab and Palestinian youth who have been organizing for about a year now... We see culture as a way of reclamation and so we wanted to depict cultural resistance because it is such an important part of the Palestinian national identity."
The theme of the festival was "return and reclamation", which was present in various installations throughout the festival grounds. One installation highlighted the refugee camps that have been established in Palestine and Lebanon, where some of the 7 million Palestinian refugees worldwide have been forcefully displaced to. Another installation recreated the Israeli separation wall, or "Israeli Apartheid Wall" as organizers call it. Israel started been building the wall in 2002 with the intention of enclosing Palestinians into the West Bank and Gaza, a move which the International Court of Justice declared illegal in 2004.
Abdul Karim, a Palestinian festival-goer told North Star "A lot of our history is based on exile. And so this nice gathering represents the dilemma that we have vis-a-vis the exile of the Palestinian diaspora." Another festival-goer said "I feel like every country is spoken about, but not Palestine. Which is kind of erased from everyone's memory and we have to do stuff like this to let people know that we exist, to like we're not just Arabs, we're Palestinian."