Langara instructor reinstated after Hamas comments

Natalie Knight was on leave for nearly three months after calling the Oct. 7 attacks "amazing, brilliant"

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By MATEO MUEGO

An instructor who was on leave from Langara College after speaking publicly in support of the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israeli citizens announced at a rally today close to the campus that she has been reinstated.

Natalie Knight, a Langara English instructor and Indigenous curriculum consultant, went on leave in November after a video of her controversial comments was widely shared on social media.

The Voice reached out to the college today for confirmation of Knight’s announcement but was told the college had no updates to share.

“I’ve been reinstated as an instructor with no disciplinary actions, which means we won,” said Knight to the explosive cheers of protesters. “It means we won. It means I did nothing wrong. It means none of you are doing anything wrong.”

The Voice had been working on a story about Knight’s status last week. Some faculty members, concerned about the issue of freedom of speech, told the Voice they had repeatedly sought answers from the college but had not received a response.

On Monday, Langara College president Paula Burns emailed employees welcoming them to the new term and referencing “continuing violence and loss of life in the Middle East.” She said that “Langara stands against anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and all forms of hatred and discrimination based on religion, race, ethnicity, or national origin.”

Burns said her key concern was the “safety and well-being” of the Langara community and that “everyone deserves to be safe.”

The email made no mention of Knight or her employment status as an instructor.

“Holding space for meaningful dialogue where different ideas and beliefs can be shared is key to continued learning and growth in our institution,” Burns said.

Knight told the Voice she would return to the college this semester.

“I’m going to be back at work very soon,” she said.

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

Knight, who said she had been prohibited from being on campus during her leave as the college conducted its investigation, was unsure how things would play out. However, she thought she had a chance at reinstatement.

“It’s hard to predict, though,” she said. “It’s very political, actually.”

Some 40 people gathered at Langara-49th Avenue Station for Thursday’s pro-Palestine rally, which called for people to “stand against political repression.” Police, who were present at the Canada Line station, preceded the protesters on bicycles as they marched east to the Langara campus a few blocks away. Police also blocked the protesters who tried to enter the A Building.

Langara security attempted to prevent Voice reporters from interviewing students and asked them to leave the campus, where the student journalism program is based.

— with files from Louis Bergeron, Emily Best, Edmund Hayley, Sarah Amy Leung, Jamie Mah

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