Music fundraiser for the children of Gaza raises over $7,000

Silent auction and local bands concert to donate to the Palestine Children’s Emergency Relief Fund in Montreal

Ihab Lotayif opened the show with his poem. Photo Menel Rehab

On Oct. 23, a benefit concert and silent auction was held at La Sala Rossa to raise funds for humanitarian aid efforts in Gaza.

All the funds are to be donated to the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, a well-established organization that was recommended to the organizers by many Palestinians, and that provides free medical care to children in the Middle East regardless of their nationality or religion. 

Jack Solar, news manager at CKUT Radio and booking agent, was the lead organizer of this event. They created this show to provide an outlet for people who feel paralyzed by the recent events in Gaza and their inability to lend aid. “I know that there are people in town who want to help but don’t know how to,”  Solar said. “Setting up something that allows people to help brings in a huge amount of support and reaction.” 

Mary Kate Edwards, who was a participant, was an example of this reality. “I’ve been trying to figure out little things that we can do. It's paralyzing; the grief and witnessing things on social media,” she said. “I think when traumatic things are happening, it can be really jarring.”

Solar believes in making a big buzz because the people in Gaza need to know that the world is listening, that people support them and believe in their liberation. “If we can make a little bit of noise here, hopefully, some echo of that makes it to them.” 

Walking into La Sala Rossa, items for auction from over 100 local businesses, bands and makers adorned the gallery. Solar said that books and literature about liberation were set up for sale, as well as a table of brand merch donated by local bands. 

Solar received overwhelming reactions and messages from people wanting to donate their time. “People are really desperate to help and so I know that we’re going to raise a lot of money,” they said. “It's going to show the Canadian government that we do really care about Palestine and we don’t want our tax dollars contributing to a war against a civilian population.”

I think that we need to support each other no matter our culture, our religion and our beliefs. We just all belong to life.” — Ibtisam

The concert started with a poetry reading in Arabic and English by Ihab Lotayif. Listeners stood in silence, empathetically grieving, then chanted “Free free Palestine” and “No Justice, No Peace” as he walked off stage. Lotayif, a poet, has advocated for Palestinian rights for a long time.  He has visited Gaza many times and he tries to get people to understand the gravity of the situation. “It's the responsibility of us all to really bring justice, not to bring more hatred,” he said. 

Lotayif believes that every word counts and any approach can enlighten somebody about the issue of justice. “I think the people of Gaza today need whatever kind of help they can get,” he said. “They are facing a ruthless attack that is supported, unfortunately, by so many governments that claim that they respect human rights.” 

Ibtisam, a participant of the event, believes that this is a humanitarian cause before anything else. “We are just all humans, I think that we need to support each other no matter our culture, our religion and our beliefs. We just all belong to life.” 

People in attendance were appreciative and awed by the amount of people who came and the type of event that took place. “It's beautiful to see the diversity of people who are here to support,” attendee Laura Sortie-Maurel said. 

Sortie-Maurel attended the event with her friend Alida Liliane. “We are extremely saddened by all that is happening, it is absolutely devastating,” said Sortie-Maurel. “We need to be able to stand up for people that have the same blood that we bleed,” said Liliane. “We are all here for peace. We don’t want anything else.” 

The event carried on with artists eager to amplify their voices, standing in solidarity in front of a banner on stage that read “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” The night ended in success, as Solar announced they had raised more than $7,000. 

Tamara Filyavich, coordinator at Independent Jewish Voices Canada, spoke on stage in solidarity with Palestine. “To Palestinian friends, family, everyone [...] you are not alone and you will never be alone.”

Music and peaceful protest were part of the evening Photo Menel Rehab

This article originally appeared in Volume 44, Issue 5, published October 31, 2023.