MONTREAL, NOVEMBER 11, 2010 - A moving and educational Remembrance Day commemoration, paying tribute to Holocaust survivors, Canadian war veterans and peacekeepers, was held November 10 at St. Léonard’s Laurier Macdonald High School. Students from Côte Saint Luc’s Bialik High School were invited as special guests as part of a continued effort by the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) to see its youth engage in various cross-cultural activities.
Laurier Macdonald Spiritual Community Animator Vince Lacroce and Bialik’s Hanna Eliashiv spearheaded the initiative, which traces back to a partnership the two schools established five years ago when they worked on a sensitization campaign regarding the naming of the former Wagar High School building after Giovanni Palatucci, a righteous gentile who saved the lives of thousands of Jews during the Holocaust. This event involved LMAC’s Secondary V International Baccalaureate students and members of the Bialik Choir.
The official ceremony started with bagpipers leading a number of distinguished guests and speakers on stage, where Mr. Lacroce formally welcomed everyone including their friends from Bialik. LMAC’s Secondary V student volunteers Ross Wegscheider and David Gallo acted as co-masters of ceremonies, by first introducing Member of Parliament for St. Léonard/St. Michel Massimo Pacetti. He encouraged the high school students to make Canada an even better country by volunteering to make a positive commitment to our society. “You will be rewarded for his,” he said. He was followed by the singing of “O Canada, led by two Bialik Choir students.
Speakers included Canadian Veterans Willie Glaser, Grant Mclaughlan, Alex Hall and George Mann; several Canadian peacekeepers including Master Corporals Marco Mastantuono and Steve Busby; and Holocaust survivors Paula Bultz, and Ted Bolgar. Twenty-four year-old Canadian peacekeeper veteran, Corporal John Petrou, showed a live-action video of fighting in Afghanistan. Several other videos were presented depicting the two world wars.
“It is sickening what people can do to each other,” said LMAC’s 15-year old student, Domenico D’Amato. “Especially since innocent people continue to go through this over generations. It is good to know that our Canadian peacekeepers are out there trying to fight for freedom and peace. The video showed how they are actually doing it.”
The formal ceremony concluded with the Bialik Choir singing three songs: one in Hebrew about hope; one in Yiddish, a lullaby about the darkness of night; and the famous WWII song, White Cliffs of Dover.
“The songs were meant to be about finding peace in the future,” said Bialik’s Rebecca Battat and Danielle Amir. “After hearing the meaningful and inspirational stories by the survivors and veterans, it motivated all of us to sing with much more emotion.”
The event concluded with interactive break-out sessions, where everyone had the opportunity to hear personal eyewitness accounts from the invited guest speakers.