After careful consideration, the CWHWC has decided not to partner with the Vancouver Queer Film Festival this year. Please see our letter below.
To the Vancouver Queer Film Festival,
This letter is to advise you that the Catherine White Holman Wellness Centre (CWHWC) has decided not to partner with the Vancouver Queer Film Festival (VQFF) this year. We ask that you share the news of our decision, and this letter, with the VQFF board.
The primary reason that we will not be renewing our partnership in 2015 is because we do not feel that the VQFF adequately addressed the many concerns that arose from the festival’s acceptance of advertising from a pro-Israel group, Yad b’Yad LGBTQ, in the festival guide last year. While we understand that the VQFF have engaged in a process over the last year to try to reconcile their position on this issue, the outcome as outlined in the “open letter to our community” is not enough for us to feel comfortable partnering with VQFF at this time.
In the “open letter to our community”, we feel that the VQFF does not satisfactorily address the concerns about pinkwashing that the community has been raising for many years. The VQFF decision to not accept nationalist based advertising appears to be a way to try to address the community’s concerns without having to take a particular stance on the Israel-Palestine conflict. What is being asked, however, by us and by many others, is exactly that: to take a stand.
As outlined in your open letter, the conflict between Israel and Palestine is an asymmetrical one. One side has vastly superior weapons and resources, and has been recognized by international law as being engaged in a violent occupation of the other side. The Gaza War in 2014 was one more uneven “war” in a long line of violent exchanges, wherein 2,200 Palestinians were killed – 1,500 were civilians – and 66 Israeli soldiers and 6 civilians were killed (sources: CNN, Wiki, UN).
In our Collective Ethics, all of the volunteers who are connected to the CWHWC have agreed to the following: We are committed to anti-oppression. This includes reflecting on our own privilege, being open to hearing that we have work to do to address internalized oppressive values, and being accountable. We are strongly opposed to Islamophobia, colonization, and anti-Semitism. We support the BDS movement and the call to support Palestine in its calls for justice and peace. We therefore cannot partner with an organization that will not take this stand with us.
We will continue to monitor how VQFF addresses this matter going forward, and are open to discussing further if that is your wish. We truly hope that one day soon our organizations will be standing together again.
Catherine White Holman Wellness Centre