Lauren Lowe (r.) is a teacher of English and Media Studies at Port Credit Secondary School. Last July, in the midst of the Israeli bombing campaign on Gaza, she heard about Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish’s campaign to bring severely wounded Gaza children to Canada for treatment, and about how the federal government was blocking this humanitarian gesture. She decided she wanted to do something, so she started a petition called “HEAL 100 KIDS”. That petition now has received over 40,000 signatures. She also invited Dr. Abuelaish to speak to her students.
I had the opportunity to interview Lauren in the week of October 10th. My interview with her follows.
Canada Talks Israel Palestine (CTIP) – Lauren, first of all, congratulations!! How did you become aware of Dr. Abuelaish’s idea to bring 100 injured Gaza children to Ontario?
Lauren Lowe – One morning in July, I read Dr. Abuelaish’s article in The Toronto Star asking Canadians to encourage our government to enable 100 wounded Palestinian children to come to Canada to receive medical treatment. It was clear to me that Dr. Abuelaish was asking Canadians to take some kind of action.
CTIP – How did you get the idea to use Change.org as a vehicle?
Lauren Lowe – I was aware of Change.org from signing petitions for other causes. I don’t think I intended to specifically use Change.org–I just wanted to start a petition, but I received a lot of support from the people who manage the site, so it was a good experience.
CTIP – What was your objective in starting a petition?
Lauren Lowe – I wanted to help Dr. Abuelaish bring those kids here. I contacted several Canadian hospitals and organizations to let them know about Dr. Abuelaish’s idea and to encourage them to help. Eventually, several hospitals agreed to provide treatment, and many politicians were hearing about Heal 100 Kids. Charlie Angus, Justin Trudeau, Thomas Mulcair all publicly supported the initiative, and soon Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins also gave his support. The initiative garnered widespread support on social media, as Canadian celebrities such as Margaret Atwood and Bryan Adams were tweeting about Heal 100 Kids
CTIP – Your name is associated with the petition. Have you gotten any feedback?
Lauren Lowe – The petition was very well received. Dr. Abuelaish called me to express his gratitude for starting the petition, and to discuss further actions. The comments on the Change.org site and on social media are overwhelmingly moving and supportive. Except from a few Facebook friends who had some critical comments when I initially began posting articles about what was happening in Gaza, I actually haven’t gotten any negative feedback.
CTIP – Are you concerned about any negative reaction from your employers, for example or elsewhere?
Lauren Lowe – No. I strongly believe that what I’m doing is right. I believe that I have the right to express my opinion on this issue, and that I have the moral obligation to speak up and stand up for anyone who is suffering as a result of injustice. If there are negative repercussions for doing so, then that is another issue that needs to be addressed.
CTIP – Now that you have over 40,000 names, what do you hope to do with the petition? Who will you give it to?
Lauren Lowe – I’m hoping to deliver it when we reach 50,000 signatures. I’ve never done anything like this before, so I’ll have to research how it is done. I was thinking of organizing a rally on Parliament Hill, and inviting speakers, etc. I’m also hoping that Dr. Abuelaish will be able to be there.
CTIP – Any final words for others interested in helping put the situation of the Palestinians in Gaza on the table for discussion?
Lauren Lowe – I would suggest that people inform themselves about the situation by accessing independent, objective media sources. When the subject comes up, don’t be afraid to express an informed opinion based on factual evidence. But remember that the goal of Dr. Abuelaish and Heal 100 Kids is to promote peace, so try to approach these discussions with a peaceful–rather than a confrontational–approach.
CTIP – Thank you Lauren, for your efforts and for sharing your experiences.