Raoul Wallenberg Commemorative Day 2018

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This past week, Canadians joined together with the international community in reflecting upon the humanitarian life and legacy of Raoul Wallenberg.

A paradigm of moral courage and effective action, this Swedish diplomat rescued some 100,000 Jews in the span of six months during World War Two, singlehandedly saving more lives than did almost any government.

Indeed, on this Commemorative Day we paid tribute to the singular heroism of Canada’s first honourary citizen, who demonstrated that one person with the compassion to care and the courage to act can confront evil, prevail, and transform history.

Anchored in the lessons of this disappeared hero of humanity – whom the UN called "the greatest humanitarian of the 20th Century” – the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights (RWCHR) spearheaded a number of Wallenberg commemorative initiatives.

Promoting the humanitarian legacy of Wallenberg is one of the four core pillars of the RWCHR Mission, which - inspired by this legacy - also includes the Preventing and Combating of Mass Atrocity; Promoting and Protecting Democracy, Human Rights and Inclusion; and Pursuing Justice for Political Prisoners. 

Statement of Canadian Prime Minister


The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today issued the following statement on Raoul Wallenberg Day:


“Today, we honour Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat in Budapest in the 1940s who put himself in harm’s way to save tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews from persecution and death during the Holocaust.

“Mr. Wallenberg was a true humanitarian and hero, who led an important rescue effort that saved more Jews from the horrors of the Nazi regime than any other individual, organization, or government. A man of incredible bravery and courage, he went to great lengths to provide special protective passports – Schutz-Passes – to thousands of Jews, saving them from deportation to concentration camps. Mr. Wallenberg also created a network of safe havens operating under the protection of the Swedish flag, offering refuge to Jews fleeing persecution.

“Tragically, Mr. Wallenberg disappeared after he was arrested by Soviet forces near the end of the war. While his fate remains unknown, his legacy lives on. In honour of his heroic efforts, countless awards, monuments, institutions, and anti-racism campaigns now bear his name. In 1985, Canada also named him as our first honorary citizen.

“Today, I encourage all Canadians to find inspiration in Mr. Wallenberg’s remarkable example. Jewish communities in Canada and around the world still face unacceptable acts of antisemitism. We must always stand up to hatred and racism. With compassion and courage, we each have the power to make a difference in the lives of those around us.”

Selected Wallenberg Commemorative Initiatives:

Following a meeting with RWCHR Founder and Chair Hon. Irwin Cotler to discuss Raoul Wallenberg Commemorative activities, Prime Minister of Canada Rt Hon. Justin Trudeau has participated in the annual Wallenberg Day. For the Prime Minister's Statement on Wallenberg Day 2018, click here.

The Canadian Raoul Wallenberg All-Party Parliamentary Caucus for Human Rights - an initiative of the Wallenberg Centre - held a record number of landmark human rights initiatives, including championing the unanimous passage of Magnitsky Global Justice and Accountability legislation. The activities of the Caucus have been described by parliamentarians as being some of the "largest and most effective gatherings" they have participated in since being elected.

Canadian Supreme Court Justice Hon. Rosalie Abella - Honourary Chair of the Wallenberg Centre - delivered our annual Wallenberg Lectureship at McGill University Faculty of Law. To listen to the recording, click here.

The RWCHR partnered in the Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Centre Wallenberg Day Commemoration, held in collaboration with the Swedish Embassy.

The RWCHR co-sponsored on Wallenberg Day a conference in the Israeli legislature on refugee protection and policy.

The RWCHR engaged Members of the Israeli Legislature from all major political parties to participate in the formation of a Raoul Wallenberg All-party Parliamentary Caucus for Human Rights.

The RWCHR joined the Wallenberg justice initiative, pursuing legal action seeking to open Russian secret archives and unmask the fate of this disappeared hero of humanity.

Concluding Wallenberg Day activities, RWCHR Founder and Chair Irwin Cotler helped launch the WJC global #WeRemember Holocaust education campaign, and presented the inaugural Remembrance Award (pictured) to the oldest working journalist in the world at age 91, holocaust survivor Noah Klieger.

May Raoul Wallenberg Commemorative Day be not only an act of remembrance, but a remembrance to always act.

Position: Co -Founder of ENGAGE,a new social venture for the promotion of volunteerism and service and Ideator of Sharing4Good

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