The Canadian government paid tribute to Raoul Wallenberg last week.
Jan. 17 was Raoul Wallenberg Day in Canada, and Jason Kenney, minister of citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism, issued a statement commemorating the Swedish diplomat who helped save the lives of some 100,000 Hungarian Jews from certain death at the hands of the Nazis.
Wallenberg disappeared under mysterious circumstances while in Soviet custody in 1945. While there’s no definitive proof, he is presumed dead. He would have turned 100 in August of this year.
Kenney called Wallenberg “one of the greatest heroes of one of the darkest periods of human history.”
“In 1985, Wallenberg became the first-ever honorary citizen of Canada,” he said. “The government of Canada is committed to carrying on the legacy of Raoul Wallenberg and to being a leader in the international fight against antisemitism.”
David Koschitzky, chair of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), called Wallenberg “righteous among the nations” in his own statement issued Jan. 17.
He said Raoul Wallenberg Day serves two purposes: first, that “even a single person of conscience can have an extraordinary impact.”
Second, it’s a day that should inspire Canadians to “continue to take a firm stand against evil.”
“We can best honour his legacy by speaking up and taking action on behalf of those who face persecution around the world,” Koschitzky said.
In related news, on Jan. 17, Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti was scheduled to issue a proclamation in council about International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which occurs every year on Jan. 27.
Also scheduled to be in attendance were members of the Azrieli Foundation’s Holocaust Survivor Memoirs Program.