On April 8th, 2013 the Honourable Eric Hoskins rose in the Ontario Legislature and gave the following speech on Yom Ha-Shoah.
Mr. Speaker, today we mark Yom Ha-Shoah – Holocaust Memorial Day.
This is a day to remember the six million Jews killed in the death camps and ghettos of Nazi-occupied Europe.
It is a time for us to stop, to mourn and to remember the men, women, and children who perished.
We think of the families torn apart – the talents, the hopes and the dreams, that were lost when they perished.
But our memory of them – our memory of their struggle – did not perish.
Holocaust Memorial Day is a time to pay tribute to all those who fought, all who suffered and all who died.
We think, too, of those who survived…
…those who emerged from the darkness, who bore witness, and who told the world of all that had happened there.
Through them we learned not only of the horror ─ but also of the bravery of resisters.
We also remember and honour the Righteous Gentiles, or the Righteous Among Nations, who, acting on their own initiative, risked their lives, freedom, and safety to save Jews during the Holocaust. Not because they had to, but because it was right.
Mr. Speaker, this month also marks the 70th anniversary of the Jewish uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto of Poland.
On April 19, 1943, a group of Jewish fighters – men, women, boys and girls – stood up against their enemy.
For nearly one month, they fought heroically and magnificently against insurmountable odds. They fought with dignity and died with honour.
The Warsaw Ghetto uprising was the first urban uprising in German-occupied Europeand news of their brave resistance inspired others as it spread.
They were an inspiration then and remain so today for all who fight tyranny and oppression.
It was this same strength of spirit that helped Holocaust survivors rebuild their lives once the war was over.
Today we give thanks to those survivors who made their way to Ontario, and who have, through their many contributions, enriched the cultural fabric of our great province.
Ontario has gained immeasurably through the richness of their faith and heritage, and through all they and their families have contributed to our communities, our economy and our society.
Their heritage is our heritage. Their struggle is a part of who we are, and who we aspire to be.
And we stand together today – as Ontarians, and indeed as members of that intrinsic community, humanity – with a vow to never forget …
We must continue to fight anti-Semitism and racism of every form – to be champions of human dignity and human rights for all.
We must defend the vulnerable, foster tolerance and compassion, and strive for justice and peace for everyone.
We must always remember those who died in the Holocaust, those who stood in resistance, those who fought for life and humanity, and bore witness to evil.
On this Yom Ha-Shoah, we pledge never to forget the victims or the lessons of the Holocaust.
And we join together with the Jewish community, and with all of humanity, to make that simple but enduring pledge:
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.