On Holocaust Remembrance Day we remember the 10 million people, including 6 million Jews – victims of an unimaginable atrocity we will never forget. We resolve to root out modern anti-Semitism and fascism in all its forms. And we renew our pledge to weave anti-racism into all the work we do as a union.
This genocide was the culmination of years of dehumanizing anti-Semitic propaganda by the Nazis and complicity by everyday people – including by the Canadian government.
Far from serving as a beacon of compassion for Holocaust victims, Canada’s ‘none is too many’ policy towards Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany ensured that no one found safe harbour on our shores. Deeply engrained anti-Semitism was evident then – and, unfortunately, remains so today.
This underscores that Canada is no exception in the legacy of hate, from the enslavement of Africans and an ongoing history of anti-Black racism, the internment of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War, colonial policies designed to ‘kill the Indian in the child’ targeted at First Nations, Inuit, and Métis, and continued systemic barriers to the equality of racialized Canadians.
Despite stifling anti-Semitism in Canadian society, 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 task of defeating anti-Semitism and authoritarianism remains. South of the border we have witnessed a rise in right-wing extremism, exemplified by open displays of anti-Semitism by neo-Nazis during the Capitol Hill attack. Once again, we are called upon to uphold the promise “Never Again” and to make real our pledge through mobilizing to beat back the forces of white supremacy.
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.