Efforts to build a monument in Canada to the victims of communism got a boost this week when Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney reiterated his support for the project.
Kenney just returned to Canada after a ten-day trip to Europe and the United Kingdom where he attended several events commemorating the Holocaust and promoting Canada’s “strong commitment” to combating anti-Semitism, according to a news release.
While in Budapest, the Minister represented Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the Official Commemoration of the 20th Anniversary of the Demolition of the Iron Curtain.
There he “highlighted Canada’s strong support for efforts to denounce the evils of communism and reiterated his support for a Monument to the Victims of Communism in Canada,” the release said.
Several Polish-Canadian groups as well as groups from over ten other ethnic backgrounds have set up a non-profit organization advocating for a monument to the victims of communism to be built somewhere in downtown Ottawa.
The groups plan to raise the money to build the monument themselves but hope the federal government will donate a parcel of land for it.
During his trip, Kenney visited Norway, the United Kingdom, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and France. A highlight was Canada’s inauguration as a full member of the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research, in Oslo.
“We are making a statement to the international community about how important it is to ensure that we learn from the Holocaust and work to prevent future acts of genocide,” Kenney said.
While in London, Kenney was the keynote speaker at a luncheon discussion hosted by Policy Exchange, one of Britain’s leading think-tanks. The occasion, which focused on combating radicalism and homegrown terrorism, brought together British politicians, academics, public policy analysts, and business leaders.
In Prague, Kenney attended the Holocaust Era Assets conference and visited Terezin memorial, the site of a former concentration camp. His speech urged nations to implement the principles of the Terezin Declaration without delay.
Ratified by 46 countries, the Terezin Declaration is a nonbinding set of guiding principles that aims to ease the restitution of Jewish belongings such as art and private and communal property taken by force during the Holocaust.
Kenney’s trip wound up in France, where he represented the federal government at a commemoration ceremony for the Dominion of Newfoundland’s role in the Battle of the Somme at the Beaumont-Hamel memorial.
The memorial is dedicated to the Newfoundlanders who lost their lives on July 1, 1916 during the first day of the Battle of the Somme.
“This memorial illustrates Newfoundland’s historic role in the First World War,” Kenney said.
The battle was the regiment’s first major engagement, and during an assault that lasted about 30 minutes almost the entire regiment was wiped out. The memorial site consists of 74 acres of preserved battlefield which encompasses the ground over which the men advanced.