By Atiya Malik
The Palestinian Culture Club (PCC) and fellow supportive student groups came together to amplify Keffiyeh Week at Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) from Oct. 16 to 20.
Students wore keffiyehs and Palestinian colours to demonstrate strength and solidarity with the community.
The PCC sold keffiyehs along with several cultural sweets on Gould Street to raise money and awareness about the current war in the Middle East. All proceeds will be donated to aid Palestinians in Gaza right now.
Layan Mustafa, vice president of events for the PCC, said organizing events on campus is the most effective way the group can support their community. “We can’t go to our country and fight for our people but this is what we can do. We can raise money, spread awareness and educate people. While they’re focusing on survival, we need to focus on getting all eyes on them,” said Mustafa.
The keffiyeh is one of Palestine’s most significant symbols of resistance. Mustafa said every pattern and line has a meaning, and for her, it represents her love for her country.
According to Jdeed Labs, the fishnet patterns resemble the relationship between Palestinian fisherman and the Mediterranean Sea. It symbolizes abundance, grace and freedom, the site states. The olive leaves pattern represents the importance of agriculture to the Palestinian way of life and is a testament to their deep connection with their land. The interlocking bold squares are a symbol of the historic trade routes that connect Palestine to other parts of the Middle East, according to the site.
Other campus groups, such as the Afghan Students Association, teamed up with the PCC to help raise awareness for crises in Gaza. According to United Nations, a 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck Afghanistan just a week after a previous quake had already left thousands dead and villages flattened.
Mustafa said both countries require immediate assistance and Keffiyeh Week has been a time of increased funds and strength for both.
PCC executive members emphasized that wearing a keffiyeh is a form of awareness that encourages accurate education and representation.
“People turn a blind eye to these situations because they think it’s easier [to look away] but silence is the most deafening thing,” said Deena Foudeh, events associate for the PCC.
Keffiyeh Week aimed to break the silence during a crucial time of need for the community. However, to Foudeh, this initiative extends beyond just the last seven days. “My keffiyeh tells a narrative. It shows the whole story from the past 75 years, not just the last week,” she said.
According to Foudeh, the support from the campus community has been exceptional.
Students from several backgrounds and culture groups were seen crowding campus with the recognizable keffiyeh patterns. The PCC sold out on all keffiyehs during the pre-ordering duration and members say more inventory will be arriving soon as fundraising events continue. According to their Instagram account, as of yesterday, their restock pre-order just sold out too.
Jana Alnajjar, president and founder of the PCC, said she started the club to create a sense of community and a tight knit family––a way for students to feel at home away from home.
“I wanted students to reconnect back to their roots or even just learn about the culture. You don’t have to be Palestinian to join our club. Come out, wear your keffiyeh, learn more about it and show your support,” said Alnajjar.
Though Keffiyeh Week has come to an end, students are confident its impact and awareness will live on.