For Immediate Release
April 12, 2018
OTTAWA, ON – Today, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) joined Jewish communities around the world in marking Yom HaShoah, a day to honour and remember the six million Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust.
On the eve of Yom HaShoah this year, CIJA and the Canadian Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants (CJHSD) launched a campaign calling on the Government of Canada to apologize for Canada’s refusal to accept Jewish refugees aboard the MS St. Louis in 1939. This fateful decision condemned hundreds of the ship’s passengers to death at the hands of the Nazis.
David J. Cape, Chair of CIJA, issued the following:
“Yom HaShoah is a day to remember the men, women and children murdered in the Holocaust. It is also an opportunity to reaffirm our dedication to fighting antisemitism today, which continues to rise in many parts of the world.
“We are proud that Canada has become a leader in the global effort to combat antisemitism. Sadly, this was not always the case. The St. Louis was emblematic of Canada’s restrictive policy when it came to Jewish immigration in the years prior to the Holocaust. This policy was the product of an era in which Jews faced extensive social and institutional bigotry in Canada.”
Sidney Zoltak, Co-President of the CJHSD, said:
“We cannot change history. But we can insist the historic record be accurate and the Government of Canada apologize for a policy that led directly to the murder of Jews who had sought Canada’s help. Canada, which rightly values compassion and decency, must be willing to address the moments of its history where it failed those ideals.”
Shimon Koffler Fogel, CEO of CIJA, said:
“This apology would not pose a financial liability for the Government of Canada. Rather, it would demonstrate to Holocaust Survivors and their families that Canada regrets this infamous decision, which led to the murder of hundreds of Jewish refugees. It would also signal that our great country will never again turn a blind eye in the face of antisemitism or when those in grave danger seek our help.”
- CIJA and the CJHSD invite concerned Canadians to add their name to a letter to the Prime Minister and federal party leaders, calling for this historic apology.
- All parties in the House of Commons have supported formal apologies from the Government of Canada for historic injustices committed by previous governments. This includes important apologies for the internship of Japanese-Canadians during WWII (1988), the Chinese Head Tax (2006), Canada’s Residential School system (2008), the Komagata Maru (2016), and systematic discrimination against LGBTQ+ Canadians (2017).
The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) is the advocacy agent of the Jewish Federations of Canada.
For more information, please contact:
Manager, Communications and Media Relations
Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs