A sombre ceremony at the B.C. Parliament Buildings brought Holocaust survivors and dignitaries together to remember the six million Jewish people who were murdered by the Nazis between 1933 and 1945.
Mariette Doduck (nee Rozen), is a Holocaust survivor who spoke at the ceremony.
“Hosting this event in the legislature building is not without significance,” Doduck said. “This building belongs to the people of British Columbia, to all its citizens of every race, religion, background and group. Hosting the Yom Ha’Shoah commemoration in this location sends a clear message to British Columbians that we share a collective responsibility to educate ourselves and our children about the dangers of discrimination and to work together toward a better future for all.”
Doduck shares her personal experience as a Holocaust survivor with thousands of students to teach them the dangers of discrimination.
In 1939, Doduck and her family were living in Brussels when they were separated and their lives were torn apart.
“We were marked for death by accident of being born Jewish,” Doduck said.
She hid in several places from hay bails to a rat-infested sewer to survive but eventually immigrated to Canada.
Thursday’s ceremony included the lighting of seven candles, some of which were lit by survivors of the Holocaust.
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.
“This is a day for us to vow in our communities with our friends and our neighbours and people of good will and all faiths to fight back and stand together because it is a moral imperative for all of us to fight xenophobia and prejudice wherever we see it,” said Minister of Education Rob Fleming. “And with fewer survivors of the holocaust to tell their stories it’s more critical than ever that we pass on these lessons to future generations. Education is one of the most powerful tools we have to combat hatred.”
Fleming said parents must have conversations with their kids to teach them values of inclusiveness and democracy. Doduck also agreed that education is an important tool to ensure the past does not repeat itself.
Premier John Horgan also acknowledged the synagogue shooting in San Diego that occurred last week as well as the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting that took place over a year ago.
“On this Yom Ha’Shoah we must always remember in the presence of those who survived those horrors that today we stand with you, tomorrow we will stand with you and forever we will remember the impacts of your lives and the consequences that you have lived for so many decades,” Horgan said.
Horgan said racism, hatred and anti-Semitism is becoming normalized in society but noted that the province has a Human Right Tribunal as a symbol of the province’s unity against racism, anti-Semitism and hate.
“Today we listen to the stories of survivors and we will pass on those stories to the next generations,” Horgan said. “If we are going to be better than those who came before us, we have to do that every single day.”