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In November 2009, a resolution declaring Black Ribbon Day, August 23, an annual day of remembrance for the victims of Communism and Nazism in Europe was unanimously passed by Canada’s Parliament.
Black Ribbon Day historically commemorates the anniversary of the infamous Molotov- Ribbentrop pact, a sinister partnership treaty between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia that allowed each to violently and illegally seize the lands and peoples situated between them and in essence started the second world war. Twenty Five years ago, Canada’s Central and Eastern European communities, by initiating Black Ribbon Day, were instrumental in bringing international attention and understanding of the plight of their heritage nations. This Canadian initiative organized demonstrations in 21 cities on both sides of the Iron Curtain. In 1989 close to 2 million people formed a human chain across the Baltic republics and by 1991, demonstrations were held in 56 cities on three continents.
Presently, August 23rd is officially commemorated in close to a dozen European nations under several names including Black ribbon Day and European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism.
From November 2009 Press Release:
OTTAWA – Liberal Foreign Affairs Critic, the Hon. Bob Rae, passed a unanimous Resolution in Parliament today to commemorate the victims of Europe’s totalitarian regimes.
“Millions of Canadians of Eastern and Central European descent whose families have been directly affected by either Nazi or Communist crimes have made unique and significant, cultural, economic, social and other contributions to help build the Canada we know today,” said Mr. Rae. “We must unequivocally condemn the crimes against humanity committed by totalitarian Nazi and Communist regimes and offer the victims of these crimes and their family members’ sympathy, understanding and recognition for their suffering.
“Every victim of any totalitarian regime has the same human dignity and deserves justice, remembrance and recognition by the Parliament and the government of Canada.”
Twenty years after the fall of the totalitarian Communist regimes in Europe, knowledge among Canadians about these regimes, which terrorised their fellow citizens in Central and Eastern Europe for more than 40 years, is still alarmingly superficial and inadequate.
This annual day of remembrance is to be held on August 23rd, to mark the anniversary of the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact between the Nazi and Soviet Communist regimes.
“Called Black Ribbon Day, the establishment of this Day of Remembrance on August 23rd, will show Canadians and those around the world, that Canada will not stand for crimes against humanity and we will be counted among those who stand up for victims of systematic and ruthless abuse.
“Canadians must not allow these crimes to go misunderstood and unrecognized.”
Borys Wrzesnewskyj, Special Advisor on Emerging Democracies to Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff, went on to explain the personal impact of this motion.
“My parents were refugees who arrived on Canada’s shores having survived the hatred, genocides and wars unleashed by two of humanity’s greatest tyrants,” he said. “Stalin, responsible for the famine and genocide of Ukrainians, the Holodomor; and Hitler, who unleashed the Holocaust, divided Europe and cost the lives of close to 100 million souls.
“Let us all remember this dark part of history to ensure that the world will never stand by in the face of crimes against humanity – so that Europe’s people can never again be divided.”