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ISRAELI CONSUL GENERALS TO PRESENT AWARD TO RAOUL WALLENBERG VIDEO CONTEST WINNERS FROM VMC

MONTREAL, MAY 22, 2013- The Consul General of Israel, Joel Lion, presented an award to Secondary III students from Vincent Massey Collegiate in recognition of them having won a video contest in honour of the centennial of Raoul Wallenberg's birth. Wallenberg was a Swedish diplomat who saved the lives of more than 2,000 Hungarian Jews during the Second World War.

This project featured the participation of Jewish and non-Jewish schools from across Greater Montreal and came to light with the participation of partners including the English Montreal School Board, the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre, the Riva and Thomas O. Hecht Scholarship Program, Teaching of the Holocaust for Educators, as well the Consulate General of the United States of America, the Honorary Consulate General of Sweden, the office of Mount Royal MP Irwin Cotler and the City of Cτte-Saint-Luc.

The Vincent Massey students were guided by their arts teacher, Julie Etheridge. She went to Israel last summer for the first time as a Hecht Scholarship winner and returned inspired to share the history of the Holocaust with her students.

Here is a speech made by Howard Liebman, chief of staff to Mount Royal Liberal MP Irwin Cotler, at the ceremony:

Hello, my name is Howard Liebman and I work for Professor Irwin Cotler who is the Member of Parliament for this area called Mount Royal – as his Chief of Staff.

On behalf of Professor Cotler, I want to first of all welcome you all. May I also thank the Consul General of Israel, Joel Lion, on this wonderful and creative initiative – and all those who took part.

I understand from Alice Herscovitch that you have just visited the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre. I salute you for doing so – and encourage you to discuss what you saw and how you feel with your teachers, with your families and with your friends. Perhaps you know of others who you might someday wish to escort yourselves back to the Centre. Knowledge and remembrance are key to a commitment to act – and to prevent such an atrocity for happening again.

I also want to congratulate you on your winning video.   Last year was a special year – the centenary year of the birth of Raoul Wallenberg – someone Professor Cotler and others have called a “hero of humanity” for his bravery.
Of the righteous among the nations whose names are known to us, only a few will be generally familiar.  There is of course Oscar Schindler, there were those who hid Anne Frank and her family.  Perhaps no one however is as well-known and revered as Raoul Wallenberg. 

In the Jewish tradition, it is said that the saving of a single human life is likened to the saving of the entire world.  Imagine then the merit that must accrue to one who has saved thousands??
Raoul Wallenberg was such a man.  While serving as Sweden’s special envoy in Budapest between July and December 1944, he was responsible for rescuing close on 100,000 Jews through the issuing of protective passports and sheltering Jews in buildings designated as Swedish territory.  Given Wallenberg’s selfless heroism, what irony that he ultimately met his death, not at the hands of the Nazis but at those of the Soviet authorities following the Soviet army’s liberation of Hungary. How - and why - is something that to this day remains a mystery. 

Despite this, Wallenberg has come to be remembered and posthumously honoured throughout the world as someone who refused to acquiesce to an unspeakable evil.
This example is relevant today in a world where helpless minorities continue in too many places to be victimized -  where war and revolution daily claims the lives of innocents.
I was especially privileged to take part in special Wallenberg events throughout last year. Most memorable for me was travelling to Sweden with Professor Cotler to officially close the Year of Wallenberg in the Swedish Parliament and to meet his sister Nina, and his daughter and grandchildren. We also hosted Wallenberg’s niece here in this very building and around Montreal last year – Louise von Dardel – whose father Guy von Dardel struggled tirelessly during his lifetime to uncover the fate and whereabouts of his brother, Raoul.

We can all be proud that Canada named Raoul Wallenberg our first honourary citizen just after the United States. To date, Israel and Australia have also done so. In January, Canada Post unveiled a commemorative stamp in his honour. In Sweden we were informed that dozens of countries – more than a hundred – had named squares, parks or unveiled monuments or stamps – in his honour. This speaks to the universality of Wallenberg’s legacy – to confront evil, to speak out, to act. The lessons are many and speak to each one of us.

That’s why your time and energies – together with those of your fellow students who submitted videos means so much.

To close, I am honoured to present you with this Parliamentary certificate from Irwin Cotler – Canada’s former Justice Minister – and once again salute you on a job well done. Thank you!

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Michael J. Cohen
Communications and Marketing Specialist
English Montreal School Board
Tel: (514) 483-7200 ext. 7243
Fax: (514) 483-7213
E-mail: mcohen@emsb.qc.ca