uOttawa Camp: Homeless camp set up next to pro-Palestinian protest camp on uOttawa campus

uOttawa Camp: Homeless camp set up next to pro-Palestinian protest camp on uOttawa campus
uOttawa Camp: Homeless camp set up next to pro-Palestinian protest camp on uOttawa campus

While a pro-Palestinian camp at the University of Ottawa has been in existence for nine weeks, more and more tents used by the homeless have been popping up nearby.

Over the weekend, protesters expanded their camp, moving closer to Tabaret Hall and setting up plywood barricades around the tents occupied by members of the pro-Palestinian camp.

According to the organizers, this is a measure they hope will pressure the institution to disclose and end its financial ties to Israel, and they also hope to better protect the protesters who sleep at night.

“We moved it mainly for security reasons, but people are sleeping here,” said Sumayya Kheireddine, president of Integrity Not Spite Against Falastin (INSAF), one of the student organizations organizing the pro-Palestinian camp.

“It’s more secure. It’s surrounded.”

In recent weeks, about a dozen tents have been set up by homeless people on the lawn outside the barricaded area set up by protesters. Paul, a homeless man from Toronto who gave only his first name, told CTV News Ottawa’s Jackie Perez that he had slept there for the past two nights.

“Shelly offered me a tent, so I took her up on that offer and that’s where I live now,” he said.

He says no one has asked him to leave yet.

“Nobody said anything to me. Outreach Housing said they would come back and talk to me, hopefully they will get housing here,” he said.

Barricades surround a pro-Palestinian camp near the University of Ottawa. A camp of homeless people has been set up nearby. (Jackie Perez/CTV News Ottawa)

Salvation Army spokesman Glenn Van Gulik told CTV News that emergency responders have been on the ground helping homeless people during the recent heavy rain and heat in the city, and have provided information about nearby shelters.

He says the employees contacted university security and the protesters to inform them of their presence on the premises.

uOttawa has remained tight-lipped about the pro-Palestinian camp since protesters began setting up tents on May 1. The university did not respond to multiple requests from CTV News for comment on the status of negotiations with the protesters.

Organizers said on Instagram that they rejected a proposal from uOttawa to end the camp and make all investments public because it “did not respond in good faith to our divestment demands.”

“We are disappointed with this outcome and remain committed to working toward a resolution of the situation,” uOttawa said in a press release to students on June 5, the last time the school made any statements about the camp.

“The University upholds our fundamental values ​​of academic freedom and freedom of expression. Equally important is the right of every member of our community to be safe on our campuses. This remains our priority.”

The organizers spoke to the university last week, although the institution’s board told them that the school’s pension fund has its own board and pension committee.

The camp is part of a wave of similar protests across Canada condemning Israel’s onslaught in Gaza following the October 7 Hamas attack. In recent weeks, many universities, including McMaster University, the University of Toronto, McGill University and the University of British Columbia, have dismantled camps, often threatening legal action for protesters who do not leave voluntarily.