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Burnaby council urges Trudeau to call for ceasefire in Gaza

Coun. Daniel Tetrault gave an impassioned speech calling on the federal government for a ceasefire.
Burnaby City Hall.

Burnaby council is calling for a ceasefire in Gaza after an impassioned speech by Coun. Daniel Tetrault.

Mayor and council unanimously agreed to write a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to call for the ceasefire, the release of all hostages and a flow of humanitarian aid.

Tetrault's voice shook with emotion as he said his Jewish values taught him to stand up against injustices and human rights abuses.

"It immediately brings me back to looking at my own family tree and learning how so much of my grandparents' family had been wiped out in the Nazi Holocaust," he said.

"When my grandparents spoke of this time, as survivors of concentration camps, they always said, 'Never again.' Never again can we allow this to happen — to anyone."

Tetrault cited new reports that more than 10,000 Palestinians have been killed, including more than 4,000 children, and more than 1,400 Israelis have been killed since the Hamas attack on Oct. 7.

He further said mayor and council should condemn all acts of antisemitism, anti-Palestinian racism and Islamophobia, which he said have risen since the escalation of violence in October.

Tetrault said Burnaby residents have shared with him how they are affected, directly and indirectly, by the violence abroad and at home.

"They're seeing an increase in Islamophobia, antisemitism and anti-Palestinian racism," he said. "They are afraid to speak out in fear of repercussions just for advocating for basic human rights, justice and peace."

He added the call follows similar advocacy by human rights groups like Amnesty International, Doctors Without Borders, Oxfam and UNICEF.

Coun. Maita Santiago said before the council meeting a delegation was presented to councillors how the events unfolding in the Middle East are affecting Burnaby residents.

"The issue before us today is about justice and about upholding human rights," Santiago said. "And as a mother I'm deeply affected by the civilians, especially with children, caught in this devastating conflict."

Mayor Mike Hurley thanked Tetrault for the motion and said it was "absolutely appropriate."

He said he was concerned by rising incidents of Islamophobia, antisemitism and anti-Palestinian sentiments, which he called "totally unacceptable."

He called on everyone in Burnaby to "take a step back."

"Just treat everyone like a human being, and that's what we all are in this world.

"So please, I call on everyone to step back and support each other and not to be adding to the grief of people who are watching their families suffer horrible, horrible deals in Gaza and in the Jewish territories."

The letter will also be sent to local Burnaby MPs Terry Beech, Jagmeet Singh and Peter Julian.