Oświęcim, Poland, January 27, 2010 — The Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, issued the following statement on the 5th annual UN International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust:
As we mark the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, I am deeply honoured to be in Poland today to participate in a conference on Holocaust education and research as part of the events surrounding the 65th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau.
“Like most Canadians, I was appalled by the theft last month of the iconic and chilling symbol of the Holocaust, the Arbeit macht frei sign at the gateway to the Auschwitz camp. I believe that such a theft was a desecration of the memory of all who died there, and an attack on the remembrance of the Holocaust.
“The extermination of millions of Jewish people, as well as many others, during World War II was a crime against all humankind. In remembering the Holocaust and paying tribute to its victims, today we renew our commitment to fight against the evils of racism, discrimination, and anti-Semitism.
“As we mark this day, it is also important to pay tribute to the ordinary citizens who acted courageously to combat hate and prejudice during the Holocaust. Miep Gies, whose recent death made headlines around the world, is one notable example. She sheltered Anne Frank and her family from the Nazis, and preserved the famous diary we’ve all come to recognize as an expression of faith in the face of incomprehensible evil.
“In Canada, the Canadian Society for Yad Vashem has recognized between 40 and 50 ‘righteous gentiles’ for their acts of heroism.
“The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that the Holocaust is not forgotten. To that end, Canada co-sponsored the UN resolution that led to the recognition of January 27 as the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. In 2007, Canada co-sponsored another UN resolution that condemned denial of the Holocaust.
“Canada is now a full member of the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research. We were granted this honoured status last June.
“Also in June 2009, our Government announced support of close to $1 million to develop and operate a three-year National Task Force on Holocaust Research, Remembrance and Education. Through the help of B’nai Brith Canada, this task force will bring together scholars, legal experts, educators, Holocaust survivors, and community representatives to further Holocaust research and education in Canada.
“The Holocaust stands alone in human history for its horror and its inhumanity. It is crucial that we remember and learn from this experience, not only to ensure that such atrocities never take place again, but also to build societies based on human dignity in which such acts are not possible.
“As Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, I urge all Canadians to learn about the Holocaust, to remember its victims, and to reject all forms of hatred and discrimination.”