Vaughan adopts Holocaust Memorial Day and IHRA definition

Vaughan Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua

The City of Vaughan, home to one of the largest Jewish populations in the country, has proclaimed Jan. 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day and adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism.

The announcements took place on Jan. 27.

“Holocaust denial and other forms of anti-Semitic demonstrations continue to threaten communities and undermine democracy,” said a statement from Vaughan Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua’s office.

“We have a shared responsibility to stop anti-Semitism in all its forms and manifestations through education and public consciousness. By means of this proclamation, each year the City of Vaughan will reflect on this horrific genocide and honour the victims and their families,” the statement went on.

Last November, Bevilacqua led a business mission to Israel. During his visit to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial, “I once again reflected on the unthinkable atrocities committed during the Holocaust. At the Western Wall, a place of prayer and pilgrimage, I was reminded, encouraged and inspired by the strength, resiliency and sense of mission embodied by the Jewish people,” he said.

“As years pass, there are fewer Holocaust survivors to share their stories with us. And yet, the first-hand accounts of Holocaust horrors are the strongest and most powerful.

“On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, I encourage all residents to take time to listen to survivors’ stories and pause to reflect on how such tragedies occurred so that they may never happen again,” the mayor stated.

“We must never forget.”

Last June, Bevilacqua presented Holocaust educator and author Max Eisen with a key to the city. Eisen also received the Order of Vaughan last year.

Also last year, the federal government endorsed the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, and Toronto passed a resolution marking each Jan. 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Last July, Vancouver delayed a vote on the IHRA definition amid protest. *

On Jan. 28, Montreal’s city council abandoned a motion to adopt the IHRA definition.

The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs praised Vaughan’s adoption of the IHRA definition as “an important step in the fight against anti-Semitism.”

* Correction: A previous version of this story mistakenly said Calgary has endorsed the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism.