The University of Alberta has fired the director of its sexual assault centre after she and the centre signed an open anti-Israel letter that denied Hamas terrorists raped women as part of their Oct. 7 attack.
The firing came after international backlash, and Alberta advanced education minister Rajan Sawhney told True North she expected the university to address the matter.
In a statement, University of Alberta President and Vice-Chancellor Bill Flanagan said that “the recent improper and unauthorized use of the name of the University of Alberta’s Sexual Assault Centre in endorsing an open letter has raised understandable concerns from members of our community and the public.”
He noted that the director of the centre, Samantha Pearson, “is no longer employed by the university” and that “the university has appointed a new interim director of the sexual assault centre.”
Flanagan added that Pearson’s views and opinions “do not in any way represent those of the University of Alberta,” an institution that “stands firmly and unequivocally against discrimination and hatred on the basis of religion, race, ethnicity, national origin, and other protected categories.”
He apologized for “the hurt and distress this issue has caused members of our community and beyond.”
The anti-Israel letter in question, penned by people “residing in so-called Canada,” called on Members of Parliament to resign over their “complicity” in the alleged “genocide” of Palestinians.
“All Canadian political parties dehumanize Palestinians, facilitating Israeli-led genocide against them. If you truly value Palestinian life and international law, we thus call on you to resign now.”
No international body has recognized claims that Israel perpetrated a genocide against Palestinians living in Gaza or the West Bank.
The letter goes on to condemn NDP leader Jagmeet Singh for pushing what they consider to be an “unverified accusation that Palestinians were guilty of sexual violence.” The letter also falsely blames Israel for an explosion at Gaza’s Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in October – a blast which Israeli and American intelligence has demonstrated was caused by a failed Islamic Jihad rocket.
The letter also claimed that calling Hamas fighters terrorists perpetuates an “Islamophobic trope.”
In addition to being signed by the University of Alberta sexual assault centre and its director, the letter was signed by professors, as well as woke activist organizations, including “students for queer liberation Toronto” and notorious far-left Ontario MPP Sarah Jama.
The firing of Pearson was met with positive reaction from both Jewish groups and politicians.
In a statement posted to X, the Centre for Canadian and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) said “thank you to (the University of Alberta) & President & Vice-Chancellor (Bill Flanagan) for your decisive action regarding the director of the University’s Sexual Assault Centre who signed a letter alleging that Israelis were not raped or sexually assaulted by Hamas terrorists on October 7.”
Alberta Premier Danielle Smith and advanced education minister Sawhney also commented on the matter.
The university also addressed a planned campus rally by the controversial group Students for Justice in Palestine to give glory to Hamas “martyrs”
The school noted that the event “is not sanctioned or endorsed by the University of Alberta, that the group is “not a university-recognized or funded student organization” and that the event is scheduled to take place on the sidewalk.
“The University of Alberta Protective Services is working with the Edmonton Police Service and will monitor to ensure the safety of our campus community.”