Site chosen for Ottawa Holocaust monument

Minister Jason Kenney lights a candle at the National Holocaust Remembrance Day Ceremony.

OTTAWA — A new national Holocaust monument will be erected in front of the National War Museum in downtown Ottawa.

Tim Uppal, the minister of State for Democratic Reform, made the announcement at this year’s National Holocaust Remembrance Day Ceremony, held April 23 at the Canadian War Museum

“It will face the War Museum and will be a focal point along the capital’s ceremonial route,” Uppal said of the monument, planned for the corner of Booth and Wellington streets, down the road from Parliament Hill.

“It will encourage people to reflect upon the events of the Holocaust… it will be a monument of hope, a lasting tribute to the victims of the Holocaust,” Uppal said.

This year’s ceremony commemorated the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. The monument is scheduled to be completed in 2015. No details of its design have been released.

Speaking on behalf of the government, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney addressed the hundreds of Holocaust survivors and their families, diplomats, dignitaries and representatives of both Jewish and non-Jewish organizations in attendance.

All Canadians have a duty to remember those who perished in the Shoah and honour the survivors who are still living, Kenney said.

Calling the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising “a moment of extraordinary defiance,” Kenney praised those who participated in it.

“Their acts of bravery echo through time down to us today. They say to us that hope, dignity and freedom can overcome death, despair and depravity,” he said.

Now that Canada has assumed the chair of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), it will lead the world in preserving the memory of the Shoah, he added.

“Canada will also continue to lead the way in isolating those who threaten the very existence of the State of Israel – the modern miracle that rose from the ashes of the Holocaust as the first and final refuge of the Jewish people,” Kenney said.

The chair of IHRA, former Liberal MP Mario Silva, had just returned from a trip to Poland, where he participated in events commemorating the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

“I will focus on building partnerships with other international bodies… countries such as Ukraine where one-quarter of the Holocaust victims died,” Silva said. “In honour of the memory of the victims of the Holocaust, let us each renew today our commitment to fight antisemitism.”

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, Mount Royal Liberal MP Irwin Cotler, Bloc Québécois MP M. Louis Plamondon and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May all echoed the message of remembrance and continuing the fight against intolerance and hatred.

York Centre Tory MP Mark Adler, the only MP who is the child of a Holocaust survivor, read a moving letter from a young girl to her mother whom she knew she would never see again.

Following remarks by Israeli Ambassador Miriam Ziv, six candles were lit, each by a group of survivors accompanied by parliamentarians and dignitaries.

The ceremony, organized and led by the Canadian Society for Yad Vashem with the assistance of the Zachor Coalition, highlighted the theme “Defiance and Resistance,” marking the 70th anniversary since the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, as well as 10 years since the Canadian government passed Bill C-459 establishing a national day to commemorate the Holocaust.