On January 27, 2005, the United Nations General Assembly officially proclaimed January 27th as the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. The date coincides with the anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration and extermination camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau by Soviet troops in 1945. Annually on this day, we remember the victims of the Holocaust and we reaffirm our commitment to counter antisemitism, racism, and hate.
The impact and consequences of the systematic murders of six million Jews by Nazi Germany and its collaborators, impacted countries globally. Today, Canada’s continuous actions to hold solidarity with holocaust survivors also includes moments in our own history when we didn’t do the right thing.
While we didn’t experience the Holocaust directly, Canadians lost family members and loved ones due to persecution happening in Europe. Due to restrictive immigration policies, Canada turned away 900 passengers of the M.S. St. Louis, who were refused entry into Canada and forced to return to Europe. However, in April 1945, Canadian forces also liberated the Westerbork Transit Camp in the Netherlands, where 900 Dutch Jews were still interned there.
Around 40,000 Holocaust survivors resettled in Canada following the war. In 2009, Canada became a member of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) and in 2010, it led the development of the Ottawa Protocol on Combatting Antisemitism and became the first country to sign the protocol in 2011. This is an important action aimed at measuring a country’s progress in countering Antisemitism. More recently, in 2021, the Government of Canada hosted a National Summit on Antisemitism, following a 2020 appointment of an Inaugural Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combatting Antisemitism.
As a strong and united union, we commit to doing the continuous work to dismantle and counter all forms of hate, and to ensure that mistakes of our past never happen again. Antisemitism is rising in Canada. Part of our collective responsibility is to ensure that the workplace is a safe place for all workers, free from discrimination of any form. Education is a big part of sustaining a culture free of hate, along with allyship actions that uphold a strong stance against antisemitism and all other forms of hate.
Sign your support for the UFCW Canada digital campaign to counter hate.