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School walkout organizers say students affected by Israel-Hamas conflict need more support

Hundreds of students at two high schools in Windsor walked out of class Monday afternoon, calling for more action from local leaders to support students who have been deeply affected by the humanitarian crisis happening amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict.

Among those who spoke at a rally near the Vollmer Complex in LaSalle, where students gathered after leaving their second-period class, was an individual who has lost 16 family members in Gaza last week.

She's one of many students affected by the ongoing conflict — and according to fellow organizer Iman Ahmer Khan, the goal of Monday's walkout was to stand in solidarity with people like them.

"They're basically mourning the genocide of their family members right now," said Ahmer Khan.

But that wasn't the only purpose of the walkout, as organizers called for more action from their local leaders in government and school board positions.

"Mental health assistance for Palestinian students, as well as countering antisemitism and Islamophobia to create a more inclusive environment for students who are going through such a hard time," Ahmer Khan added.

Students walked out of class, calling for more action from local leaders to support students affected by the humanitarian crisis happening amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict. Pictured in Windsor, Ont. on Monday, Nov. 13, 2023. (Sanjay Maru/CTV News Windsor)

One person who spoke at the rally said she wants to see Ontario school board staff receive anti-Palestinian racism training, the history of colonization in Palestine be added to Ontario's school curriculum and safe spaces be created for Palestinian students.

They also echoed calls for a complete ceasefire and for Canadian government officials to stop providing military aid to Israel.

"This is a genocide and must not be dismissed as anything else," the speaker said.

In a statement to CTV News, the Greater Essex County District School Board said it was aware of Monday's student walkout before it began. A GECDSB spokesperson added there will be no consequences for students who left to participate in the demonstration.

"External protests are not permitted on school premises but students who choose to participate are able to do so if their absence is excused by a parent/guardian or if they sign themselves out and are over 18 years old," said GECDSB communications officer Madeline McEachern.

"We have developed and shared guidelines and instructions for administration and staff regarding the current situation in the Middle East — especially in relation to student well-being. Resources for anyone who may be personally impacted by the conflict have also been shared in schools."

As for Ahmer Khan, who was designated by organizers as the only person permitted to speak with media about the rally, she said the walkout was not tied to any specific religious or cultural belief.

"I'm really proud of my fellow students for actually coming out and participating in such events," she said.

"We can [all] stand firm against the lack of humanity that's going on and stand for humanitarian aid during a time of injuries and genocide." Top Stories

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