Opinion: With anti-Semitism on the rise, annual Holocaust commemoration is vital – Calgary Herald

Posted By on February 3, 2020

Today, for the first time, the City of Calgary will recognize and commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day at city hall.

This global day of remembrance tells the stories of courageous survivors and honours the six million Jews and 11 million other individuals who perished in the Shoah (Holocaust).

Jan. 27 marks 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, an event first commemorated by the United Nations in 2005. Although this day is recognized worldwide and is sanctioned by the United Nations, only a handful of municipalities in North America officially recognize this day, including New York, Windsor and, most recently, Calgary and Toronto.

Canada, which became a member of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance in 2009, first officially recognized International Holocaust Remembrance Day in 2015. However, for local Jewish communities, government recognition is so much more than ceremonial or symbolic. Formal acknowledgement of International Holocaust Remembrance Day has always gone hand-in-hand with initiatives to recognize, condemn and act against anti-Semitism. When International Holocaust Remembrance Day was first declared by the United Nations, it came as part of a greater initiative, Resolution 60/7, which encouraged countries to develop educational programs about genocide, condemn religious intolerance, incitement, harassment, or violence based on ethnic origins or religious belief.

In New York, recognition of the day was accompanied by a city-wide week of Holocaust education. In Calgary, recognition of International Holocaust Remembrance Day was part of a landmark notice of motion, Combatting anti-Semitism in the City of Calgary, and most recently in Toronto, recognition of International Holocaust Remembrance Day was seen by the city as an opportunity to increase public awareness and understanding of our history in response to growing Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism in Canada. In conjunction with these educational initiatives, now more than ever, public acknowledgement of the Holocaust and recognition of the reality of anti-Semitism matters.

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Opinion: With anti-Semitism on the rise, annual Holocaust commemoration is vital - Calgary Herald

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