Police step in after protestors block federal minister’s vehicle in Regina

Photo by Valerie Zink. Protestors confront the vehicle of Minister Ahmed Hussen as he attempts to leave the University of Regina Campus after cancelling his appearance at a "Meet and Greet with Global Affairs Canada” event in Regina on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024.

by Trillian Reynoldson

Regina Leader-Post

Police were called to the University of Regina’s College Avenue Campus (U of R) as a group of protestors blocked a federal minister’s vehicle and loudly called for an immediate arms embargo on Israel.

The group of about 20 “Palestine solidarity protesters” confronted federal Minister of International Development Ahmed Hussen outside a meet and greet with Global Affairs Canada event on campus Thursday, according to a statement provided to the Leader-Post.

“We all decided that this was the right thing to do and we’re not going to let business as usual continue when our leaders aren’t really taking things seriously,” U of R student Sarah Sattar said in an interview Friday.

In a video posted on social media, the group can be seen with signs and heard shouting things like “free Palestine,” “stop Canadian complicities in starvation” and “stop complicity in genocide” as they followed Hussen out of the building and to his car. He appeared to be escorted by campus security. The protesters then surrounded the minister’s vehicle with continued chants and several flags of Palestine waving in the wind. The social media post said the vehicle was blocked for about 30 minutes.

The group also called for the “restoration of humanitarian aid funding to UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency), and an end to diplomatic and economic ties with Israel.”

Last month, Canada suspended its funding to UNRWA after allegations by the Israeli government that 12 of the agency’s employees participated in the Oct. 7 terrorist attack against Israel, which killed more than 1,000 people. Days after suspending funding to UNRWA, Canada announced it would send $40 million in aid to organizations helping Palestinians in Gaza, including the World Food Program, UNICEF, the World Health Organization and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

“In light of the International Court of Justice’s ruling that Israel is plausibly committing genocide, Canada has both a moral and legal obligation to prevent Israel from continuing to carry out acts of genocide, including halting arms sales to Israel immediately,” protester Sydney Taylor said in the release, adding that suspended funding to UNRWA makes Canada directly complicit in deliberate starvation and ongoing genocide of Palestinians.

“We will not sit back and allow our government to actively support an apartheid state that is ethnically cleansing an entire people,” Sattar said in the release. “The moral collapse of Hussen and other federal leaders in the face of violence that we haven’t seen in generations is unbearable. We will continue to confront them at every opportunity, alongside many others across the country.”

Regina police said they were called to the College Avenue Campus around 5:45 p.m. for a report of a protest that was blocking a vehicle from leaving the parking lot. Police observed around 20 people around the vehicle holding flags, banners and a megaphone.

Police said officers worked with the group to get them to move to the side and allow the vehicle to pass and exit the parking lot. No arrests were made and the crowd dispersed shortly after.

A U of R spokesperson said the event was held by a third party and was not organized by the university, but confirmed campus security responded to the protest.

— With files from National Post and The Canadian Press