This evening, in communities across the country, Canadians will be taking part in commemorative ceremonies to mark the third annual Black Ribbon Day, which pays tribute to the memory of the tens of millions of European victims of tyranny under the Communist and Nazi regimes of the last century.
Black Ribbon Day was declared a national day of remembrance in 2009, following the unanimous passage of a House of Commons resolution. It marks the August 23, 1939, anniversary of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. That notorious non-aggression treaty between the Communist Soviet Union and Nazi Germany was a precursor to the Second World War. It led directly to the occupation of numerous European countries and to the slaughter and oppression of their citizens.
During their existence, these murderous, totalitarian regimes inflicted unimaginable suffering on the people of Central and Eastern Europe, and Asia. Although the Soviet and Nazi eras are now over, many Canadians experienced their horrors first-hand, or have family members who did.
For generations of newcomers escaping oppression, Canada has been a beacon of freedom, refuge and peace, and a place to rebuild their lives. Black Ribbon Day offers the opportunity to reflect on the price so many paid for the evils of Communism and Nazism, and to reaffirm our determination that historical wrongs not be repeated. The Prime Minister has stated that ‘Canada remains a vigorous defender of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law on the world stage today.’
The Government continues to work closely with those communities that were directly affected by Communist and Nazi oppression. A Memorial to Victims of Communism and a National Holocaust Monument are both in the planning stages for the National Capital Region.
As Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, I would like to commend all community leaders and individuals involved in organizing Black Ribbon Day events. I wholeheartedly join with you in this important commemoration.
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