Holocaust survivors recounted their personal stories in a ceremony at the B.C. Parliament Buildings to remember the six million Jewish people who were murdered by the Nazis between 1933 and 1945.
“On Yom Ha’Shoah, British Columbians join people around the world as we honour and remember the six million lives lost during the Holocaust,” said Premier John Horgan. “We must do more than promise ‘never again,’ but share and learn from the stories of the survivors and stand together, every day, against anti-Semitism, bigotry and hate.”
The Yom Ha’Shoah ceremony included the lighting of seven candles. Six of the candles were for the six million Jewish people who were murdered during the Holocaust. The seventh was to remember others who were targeted by the Nazis, including Roma people, people of diverse sexual and gender identities, and people with disabilities.
“With fewer Holocaust survivors alive today, it’s particularly important that education ensures future generations learn the lessons of this tragedy, including the dangers of what happens when you’re apathetic in the face of racism or oppression,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Education. “With anti-Semitism and hate speech on the rise, we want to make sure all kids know how to stand up for human rights, so we can protect our values of tolerance and inclusiveness.”
Students in B.C. learn about the Holocaust in both history and social studies courses, beginning in Grade 6. They also learn about other discriminatory policies and injustices in Canada and the world, with a focus on analyzing what happened in the past to prevent similar human rights abuses in the future. Students also benefit from a new curriculum that weaves social responsibility throughout all grades to ensure every child learns respect for others.
“The Holocaust is one of the darkest chapters of human history,” said Nico Slobinsky, director, Pacific Region, Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs. “Six million Jews were systematically murdered by the Nazi killing machine. Yom Ha’Shoah is an important opportunity to pause and honour the millions of lives that were destroyed and reflect on the evil that inspired this unprecedented act of murderous hatred, and the apathy that allowed it. Just because Canada remains one of the best places in the world in which to be Jewish, it does not mean we can be complacent about anti-Semitic hatred, which persists and threatens to undermine all we value in Canada.”
Premier Horgan and Fleming were joined for the ceremony by representatives from the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, Pacific Region; the Jewish Federation of Vancouver; Jewish Federation of Victoria and Vancouver Island; Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre; Victoria Holocaust Remembrance and Education Society; and the Victoria Shoah Project, as well as more than 25 Holocaust survivors.
Jewish communities throughout Canada will observe this day by holding vigils, discussions, film screenings and more.