On Holocaust Remembrance Day we remember the victims of the Nazi regime. We resolve to root out anti-Semitism in all its forms. And we renew our promise to weave anti-racism into all the work we do as a union.
Over 10 million people, including 6 million Jews, died in the Holocaust. This genocide was the culmination of years of dehumanizing anti-Semitic propaganda by the Nazis and complicity by everyday people.
Far from serving as a beacon of compassion for Holocaust victims, Canada’s ‘none is too many’ policy towards Jewish immigrants ensured refugees would find no safe harbour on our shores. Anti-Semitism was deeply engrained in the social fabric of our country and remains so today.
Canada is no exception in the legacy and persistence of hate. Our internment of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War was a national disgrace. Colonial policies designed to ‘kill the Indian in the child’ amount to a genocide against the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis. Continued systemic barriers to the equality of racialized Canadians reinforce the white supremacist foundations upon which the country was built.
Despite these obstacles, Jewish workers played a pivotal role in the history of CUPE and in the wider progressive and labour movements. The organized Jewish community fought vigorously alongside labour allies to combat intolerance in workplaces and communities.
But the wave of violent attacks on Jews in the United States—including a shooting at a Kosher store in New Jersey and a machete attack during Hanukkah at a rabbi’s house in New York—and an increase in hate crimes targeting Jews across Canada reminds us that anti-Semitism is still here.
We have a collective responsibility to remember the Holocaust and to fight anti-Semitism and the rise of hate. That’s why CUPE Ontario is pursuing an Anti-White Supremacy campaign to dismantle racism in our workplaces and our communities. It’s why CUPE Ontario is integrating anti-racist and equality initiatives into all the work we do as a union. And it’s why on Holocaust Remembrance Day, we remind ourselves how easily history can repeat itself in the absence of good people willing to stand together.