The Associate Minister of Transportation Kinga Surma hosted the Ukrainian Community leaders, as well as stakeholders from other Eastern European communities from across Ontario to mark Black Ribbon Day, the National Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Communism and Nazism in Europe.
“The 20th century was the most tragic century for humankind, that brought us two world wars, affecting millions of lives across the globe,” Surma said Friday at Queens Park. “The totalitarian regimes took control over many countries, each striving for world dominance. During this time, millions of civilians lost their lives to mass murders, starvations in the case of Holodomor in Ukraine, deportations, concentration camps and gas chambers.”
She urged Canadians to remember and pay tribute to all the victims of the two totalitarian regimes.
“We need to continue to teach our children that freedom and democracy are fragile,” said Surma. “And we must do this not only to ensure a bright future for our young people, but also so that the many lost lives that were sacrificed are not in vain.”
Black Ribbon Day is celebrated across the world on August 23, the same day as the anniversary of the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact between Nazi Germany and the Communist Soviet Union. A week after the Pact was signed, the two regimes jointly invaded and dismembered Poland, starting World War II.
The day also commemorates the adoption of a unanimous bill by the House of Commons of Canada in 2009, identifying August 23 as Black Ribbon Day.
During the reception at Queens Park, President of the Central and Eastern European Council Marcus Kolga said that those, who collaborated in the terror must continue to be identified and whenever possible be brought to justice, regardless of circumstances.
“Evil must never be allowed to sleep,” he said. “Private western-owned mining companies that profited and continue to profit from mines opened by slave laborers, one of which at least is owned by a Canadian company, should be held to account.”
He also said that compensation for the politically repressed should be immediately investigated and funds could be used to help update Canadian education curriculums to teach this.
“These things have to be taught in schools,” said Ted Opitz, Etobicoke Centre Conservative Candidate. He also read greetings from Andrew Scheer, leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.
“We must strongly condemn any whitewashing of atrocities committed by the Nazi and the Soviet regimes, and spreading the propaganda and disinformation,” Scheer said in his statement. “It is our duty to educate the future generations of the atrocities of the past in order to ensure that these murderous ideologies never have a chance of repeating again.”