The Ceremony took place April 18, 2018 in partnership with the Government of Canada, with The Honourable Harjit Singh Sajjan MP, the Minister of National Defence as the keynote speaker.
The Ceremony was chaired by Fran Sonshine, CSYV National Chair and Bruce Kent, RBC Vice-President, Director & Portfolio Manager and CSYV Board member, and commemorated the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust. It also paid tribute to the survivors who rebuilt their lives in Canada. Many survivors came to Ottawa to attend this meaningful event.
The theme of this year’s Ceremony was “Remembering the Past, Shaping the Future: The Importance of Remembering the Holocaust”.
“On this day, please join us in paying tribute to the strength and resilience of the Jewish people and all those who persevered against the horrors of the Holocaust. We cannot, and will not, forget,” Minister Sajjan stated.
Minister Sajjan also commended the Holocaust survivors who participated in the Ambassadors of Change Program prior to the Ceremony, during which they shared their testimonies with students. In his words,
“Every survivor who has told their story has done so with generous spirit despite the pain it invokes. Every survivor who has told their story is helping to make sure we never forget”.
In addition to Minister Sajjan, The Honourable Andrew Scheer, Leader of the Conservative Party and Leader of the Official Opposition, Mr. Jagmeet Singh, Leader of the NDP, Nimrod Barkan, Ambassador of Israel to Canada and Rabbi Bulka addressed the attendees and lit a candle in the CSYV menorah.
In line with this year’s theme, for the first time, the program featured accounts from both first and second generation Holocaust survivors.
Felicia Carmelly shared her powerful first-hand testimony of surviving the Transnistria concentration camp and losing 36 members of her family at the age of 10. Felicia emphasized the importance of “the new generation, to become the guardians of the memory of the Holocaust, and be brave enough to create a world where innocent people can live with each other in friendship, respect, and peace”, now that Holocaust survivors are leaving us.
Second generation Holocaust survivor and CSYV Board Member Israel Mida spoke about his quest to “reclaim the memory” of the family he lost in the Holocaust. Israel concluded his speech by exclaiming,
“Hitler may have taken their lives, but he can never take their good names … He cannot take their signatures…He cannot take your memories of them. … and he cannot take the memory of them which I have RECLAIMED.”