Minister Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment and Social Development and Minister for Multiculturalism, spoke at this year’s MOL chaperone training session in Kingston, Ontario on December 6th 2013.
Evan Zelikovitz, Chair of March of the Living Digital Archive Project at Jewish Federations of Canada-UIA introduced Minister Kenney as a strong supporter of Israel. “To say that Jason Kenney - and the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper - is a supporter of Israel and the Jewish community here in Canada would simply be an understatement of mass proportions. Jason Kenney is not just a supporter. Jason Kenney is a true friend and for all the right reasons.”
Minister Kenney spoke about the importance of the March of the Living Digital Archive project and the Canadian government's substantial grant to the March of the Living. The grant will permit the March of the Living to take their footage of survivors’ testimonies, digitize and organize them into archives that will be made available on the web to anyone with an interest in the Holocaust. Visit http://www.cjnews.com/node/119073 to learn more.
“After Israel and the United States, [Canada admitted] the largest number of survivors in the world, some 40,000 of whom made Canada their new home, and who made incalculable contributions to our country. I don’t know how they did it. I always marvel at…. how people could function after the experience of the Shoah, and to come and raise families, and to be fully productive citizens, reflects a strength of character and integrity which is incomprehensible.
And so we do all these things to honour them, to thank them for their contributions to Canada, and to ensure that their example is transmitted to future generations. And we will - l through the National Holocaust Memorial, and of course the wonderful project that we are supporting through the March of the Living.
The testimonies that you are recording and that you will digitize and use in online educational materials - here’s the great thing about that: those will be there for generations and generations. So the work that you do supporting the March of the Living will carry on: the learning, the experiences, the truth that is conveyed through it. So thank you for the work that you do, on behalf of government of Canada.”
Anita Ekstein, Chair of the March of the Living Canada Endowment Fund and a child survivor of the Holocaust, concluded with the following remarks.
“When I go on the March of the Living, in addition to stories of evil and suffering, I always make sure to tell the stories of the Righteous Among the Nations - including the story of the Righteous Polish family who saved my life, a family I meet every year when I go on the March of the Living."
I also make sure to teach the students on the March of the Living, that love is always better than hate, forgiveness is always better than revenge, and that we must all work to make the world a kinder, safer and gentler place for all members of the human family.
Thank you Minister Kenney for ensuring that the lessons and stories I have shared each year with the students on the March of the Living, that the story of my murdered parents and my Polish rescuers… will never be forgotten and will be preserved for generations to come.”
Three Canadian Holocaust survivors - Anita Ekstein, Rena Schondorf and Tom Strasser - attended the Shabbaton and shared their moving stories with all the weekend attendees, an experience they will repeat with the students when they travel with them to Poland in April of 2014.
Over 60 future MOL chaperones attended this year’s chaperone training. In addition to hearing from guest speakers, MOL alumni and survivors, they attended educational sessions throughout the weekend. Seminar sessions covered a wide variety of topics ranging from Jewish and holocaust history to leadership development. The weekend was a great success as attendees returned home with a real sense the trip has already begun.
About March of the Living Canada (MOL): The March of the Living is a program funded by Jewish Federations of Canada-UIA and by local UJA and CJA Federations. The March of the Living is a two week educational experience that takes place in Poland and Israel. Hundreds of Canadian students each year mark two of the most important dates in Jewish History. On Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) students participate in a three kilometer March from Auschwitz to Birkenau as a silent tribute to victims of the Shoah. Students observe Yom Ha’zikaron (Israel’s Memorial Day) and celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel’s Independence Day) while they are in Israel. Visit www.marchoftheliving.org
About Jewish Federations of Canada-UIA (JFC-UIA): Jewish Federations of Canada-UIA strengthens Jewish life in Canada, Israel and overseas in partnership with Jewish Federations and communities across Canada. It represents 10 Canadian Federations and four regional councils, each of which raises and distributes funds annually for community development, social welfare and educational needs locally, nationally, in Israel and overseas. Learn more at www.jewishcanada.org.