Innu student part of encampment set up at University of Quebec

‘Palestinians are Indigenous’ says Innu student at encampment.

Xan Choquet is an Innu student attending the University of Quebec in Montreal, or UQAM as it’s known locally.

He’s now part of an encampment that supports the people of Gaza.

“I think we have to realize as Indigenous people the importance of solidarity across different Indigenous nations,” said Choquet who is from Mashteuiatsh. “I want to remind people that Palestinians are Indigenous to their land. And they are going through a genocide. We are still in a genocide. We have gone through it.”

Students here are following in the footsteps of their peers across the city at McGill University.

On Wednesday, a Quebec Superior Court judge has refused McGill’s request for an injunction to dismantle the pro-Palestinian encampment that has been set up on its downtown Montreal campus since late April.

Police in other jurisdictions have forcibly removed people at university encampments.

Choquet said he first joined the McGill encampment when it was first set up.
“We are there is solidarity with McGill but also, we have our own demands. I think it is important to be here as much as possible,” he said.

The UQAM student group is demanding an academic boycott against Israel from all Quebec university. They also want UQAM to divest from all ties to Israel and the abolition of the Quebec government’s office in Tel Aviv.

“Our encampment came out of the McGill encampment, so it’s a continuation of the struggle that started at McGill which was the first in Canada,” said Leila Khaled, a spokesperson for the UQAM site in a French interview.

“Now I think there are 13 or 14 across Canada. It’s fascinating that the numbers are multiplying and we hope they’ll multiply even more.”

In his ruling Wednesday, Justice Marc St-Pierre ruled that McGill didn’t prove the situation at the encampment was sufficiently urgent to justify an injunction.

In a written decision, he said the case also raises questions of conflicting rights — in this case, the protesters’ freedom of expression versus McGill’s property rights. He said there is a need for a larger debate on the question, including whether a “peaceful occupation” should fall under the right to freedom of expression.

This is now the second request for an injunction a Quebec court has denied.

“The atmosphere is really great for real,” said Choquet. “We see a really strong sense of community. And I heard some people being like ‘it’s the first time I experience this community feeling.’”

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