Langara instructor on leave after publicly supporting Hamas

The English teacher called the Oct. 7 attacks "amazing, brilliant"

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By MATEO MUEGO

A Langara instructor who spoke at a pro-Palestine rally last month in support of the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israeli citizens is on leave, and the college said it is investigating the matter.

Natalie Knight, a Langara English instructor and Indigenous curriculum consultant, has been removed as the instructor listed for English 1123 courses that she was teaching this semester. She has been replaced by another instructor.

Knight’s presence disappeared from Langara’s English department faculty web page. Shortly after, the faculty bios of the entire department were removed. No contacts, including names, phone numbers or emails for any faculty in the department are available on Langara’s website.

At a public rally in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery on Oct. 28, Knight called the Hamas attack an “amazing, brilliant offensive.”

Her comments were captured on video shared widely on social media.

The Vancouver Police Department has told the Voice it is looking into Knight’s comments.

Knight on leave

On Oct. 31, the Langara executive leadership team announced in an email to all students and staff that an employee was on leave following comments made during a pro-Palestine rally. The college, which did not identify the instructor, said the views shared in the video do not represent those of the college. The college reminded students and staff of mental health support options.

“We are conscious that this has greatly impacted our community,” the college email said.

In the video, Knight introduced herself and a companion, then told the story of six Palestinian political prisoners escaping Israel using only spoons in 2021.

“This was a feat of determination and ingenuity,” Knight said. “Only eclipsed by the amazing, brilliant offensive waged on Oct. 7.”

The surprise assault in October by Hamas on Israel killed approximately 1,400 people, mostly civilians.

VPD reviewing Knight’s comments

VPD media relations officer, Sgt. Steve Addison, told the Voice in an email “we are aware of comments made by a speaker during a gathering at the Vancouver Art Gallery last month and have heard concerns from community members.”

He said the VPD supports Canadians peacefully assembling and expressing their views in protests but knows sometimes the views expressed at these events can be considered “abhorrent and morally repugnant.” However, they are not necessarily a violation of the Criminal Code of Canada, he said.

“In this case, as in others, we will review the comments, follow the Criminal Code of Canada and, if appropriate, consult Crown counsel,” Addison said.

Footage of Knight speaking at the rally has sparked outrage on social media, and led to calls for the college to fire her and for SFU to strip her of an academic achievement medal bestowed in 2019.

SFU said it does not agree with the comments she made.

“Beyond being a graduate of SFU, this person has no current affiliation with the university,” SFU said on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Though her early reviews on the teacher review site Rate My Professor were stellar, Knight began receiving scathing comments and one-star ratings in the days following her comments at the rally. Knight’s Rate My Professor Langara page has been removed, though her Douglas College page, where she has a 4.6/5 rating, still exists.

According to Rate My Professor’s FAQs, the website does not remove a professor unless “they are no longer teaching at the listed University and have been removed from the college’s website.”

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