ceremony Demonstrators supporting Palestine interrupt Canadian literary award ceremony.
The ceremony for a highly regarded Canadian literary prize on Monday evening was disrupted twice by protesters supporting Palestine.
During the ceremony for the C$100,000 Scotiabank Giller prize, a group of protesters disrupted the event by storming the stage with signs that accused Scotiabank of supporting genocide. The host of the event, Rick Mercer, intervened by trying to remove one of the signs from a protester’s grasp.
The video clip depicts a protester in the crowd yelling out that Scotiabank is invested in Elbit Systems to the tune of $500 million, and that this company is aiding in the Israeli military’s genocide of the Palestinian people.
Elbit Systems is a company based in Israel that produces weapons. It has faced criticism from activists for providing weapons to the Israeli military. In April, the investigative news outlet The Intercept revealed that Scotiabank’s investment in the company was valued at $500 million, making it the biggest foreign shareholder.
According to the Globe and Mail, a protester stated, “We refuse to stay quiet any longer.” The police promptly removed the group and they were later detained, as reported by Giller spokesperson Robyn Mogil.
The ceremony was disrupted by a protester during the announcement of the winner. Sarah Bernstein, a Canadian writer, received the award for her novel Study for Obedience, which is also a finalist for this year’s Booker prize. When her name was called, a person pretending to be a photographer started yelling, causing the organizers to repeat the announcement.
The occurrence follows one month after Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu initiated conflict in response to the Hamas attack on October 7th, which resulted in the deaths of 1,200 Israelis. As a result, over 11,200 Palestinians have been killed and in the last 10 days, 200,000 individuals have evacuated northern Gaza.
Born in Montreal, Bernstein received the award from her home in the Scottish Highlands via remote communication. She had just given birth and did not mention the demonstrations in her acceptance speech.
Some notable guests at the event included Margaret Atwood, who had previously been awarded the prize. Past recipients also included Michael Ondaatje, Alice Munro, and Esi Edugyan, who served as the chair of the 2023 Booker prize judging panel.
In protest of the US government’s backing of Israel’s attacks on Gaza, Canadian poet Rupi Kaur rejected an invitation to observe Diwali at the White House earlier this month. Additionally, in October, numerous nations and publishing organizations withdrew from the Frankfurt book fair when an awards event honoring Palestinian writer Adania Shibli was cancelled.
The Guardian’s requests for comment from Scotiabank, the Giller prize, and Elbit Systems went unanswered.