Canada’s Holocaust monument opened 4 years ago. Why isn’t anyone using it?

A memorial service held at the National Holocaust Monument in Ottawa for the 80th anniversary of the Babi Yar massacre on Sept 14, 2021. (Photo by Peter Waiser)

You might remember the fanfare back in the fall of 2017, when Canada’s Holocaust memorial opened in Ottawa, just west of Parliament Hill. Until then, Canada was the only Allied country without a national monument to victims of the Holocaust. The government paid $4 million for the Daniel Libeskind–designed project, while Canada’s Jewish community raised the other $4.5 million.

Later that year, a Hanukkah celebration was held at the newly minted site. But after that, it lay somewhat forgotten. Only one other event was held, in April 2019, for the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. And while the pandemic can be partly blamed for that, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

That longstanding vacancy ended on Sept. 14, 2021, when two men organized a memorial for the victims of the Babi Yar massacre, which happened 80 years ago this week. During the two-day slaughter, Nazi soldiers shot and murdered more than 33,000 Jews in a ravine near Kiev, Ukraine, marking the first and largest mass murder of Jews in the the Holocaust.

We’re joined today by the two men who organized the event, Joel Diener and Lawrence Greenspon, who explain why they did it and how they hope their event will serve as a wake-up call for the Jewish community to take advantage of the Ottawa monument more often.

What we talked about:

  • Learn more about Canada’s National Holocaust Monument at
  • Learn about the Babi Yar massacre at
  • Read an essay by Laura Grosman about spearheading Canada’s Holocaust memorial at


The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Victoria Redden is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine. Our title sponsor is Metropia. We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network; find more great Jewish podcasts at