B.C. MLA urges people to stand against hate on International Holocaust Remembrance Day

As British Columbians reflect on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a B.C. MLA says we can’t let hate find a foothold in the province.

Friday’s international day of remembrance marks 78 years since the Auschwitz concentration camp was liberated of the horrors of the Nazi genocide during World War II. In the Holocaust, approximately 6 million Jewish people were killed by the Nazis and their allies.

Coquitlam-Maillardville MLA Selina Robinson, who is Jewish, says it’s critical to make sure people continue to be educated about what happened to prevent it from happening again, and to take a stand against hatred.

“This was orchestrated by a government against a group of people…and the hate was started by dehumanizing one group of people and escalated from there,” Robinson said.

“I think the lesson that the Holocaust teaches us, is that it wasn’t just about the annihilation of Jews, it was the control of a population and pitting one group of people against another group of people.”

Decades later, Robinson says she and her family still feel the impact of anti-Semitic hate.

“People will say, ‘Well, that happened 78 years ago, how does that impact me?’ And a couple of weeks ago, I stood up to hate against LGBTQ folk at a drag queen story time because a dozen people felt like they could dehumanize a group of other people who were different from them. And to me, that…is very concerning. We see it in the rise of anti-Semitism as well, and the dehumanizing aspect of it,” she said.

“When I reflect on the Holocaust, and I think, ‘If I had been born in another time…there would be people who would want to kill me, want to destroy me, who would see me as sub-human, and that always, strikes a chord,” she said.

She says that people still need to stand up against the hatred that happens today.

“I call on British Columbians and others to take a stand against hatred, regardless of where it shows its ugly head. Because we all lose when that happens,” she said.

Landmark illumination

In B.C., some landmarks are set to be illuminated in yellow Friday in remembrance.

The CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver, Ezra Shanken, says he’s seen fantastic support from cities, the province, and the federal government when it comes to standing against anti-Semitic hatred.

“One of the things that we’re going to see that I think is very moving, is a visual representation of support across our city. We have a number of different landmarks that are going to be lit up in yellow to really send a message to those who may be mainlining anti-Semitism,” he said.

“We want to show a real visual representation that they are in the distinct minority.”

“I do believe that the vast majority of society around us loves our Jewish community and what we have to offer that is embracing of our part of of the diversity,” he said.

Shanken says he hopes people will take to social media with the hashtag #WeRemember, to show their support for the Jewish community.

Robinson also encourages people who want to learn more about the events of the Holocaust to head to the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre on Oak Street and 41st Avenue.

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