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Black Ribbon Day – Vancouver commemorates victims of Nazism and Communism

Mirko Petriw (Ukrainian Canadian Congress – Vancouver)

On Saturday, August 23, at 5 PM Vancouver’s Central and Eastern European communities will gather  at Polish Community Centre (Polish Friendship Society – Zgoda, at 4015 Fraser St. in Vancouver) to remember the victims of Nazism and Communism. You may recall that last year this event was hosted by the Holy Eucharist Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in New Westminster.

Please dedicate an hour of your time to the memory of your family members, your neighbours and compatriots that suffered and died in the Bloodlands of Eastern Europe and come to this event. Bring your national flags. We are looking forward to meeting members of the Hungarian, Lithuanian and Czech communities to join with the Ukrainians, Estonians and Poles that had attended on previous years.

Black Ribbon Day was proclaimed by the Canadian Government in Nov. 2009 to remember the victims of both German Nazism and Russian Communism. Most Central European countries have done the same. This date is the anniversary of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of 1939. Those that forget history are condemned to repeat it. It is notable that the president of the successor state to one of these two Evil Empires now considers its dismemberment a tragedy. That state has shown a willingness to use force to make the future resemble its past. Black Ribbon Day is about never allowing that particular history to repeat itself.

After a brief “Moleben” (prayer service for the victims), we can come together in the hall under the church. Due to vacations and childrens’ camps, we are unable to offer snacks, so please bring your own “finger foods” to share in a potluck manner.




A resolution declaring Black Ribbon Day, August 23, an annual day of remembrance for the victims of Communism and Nazism in Europe was unanimously passed Canada’s Parliament. This declaration was proposed by MP Bob Rae and MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj and was unanimously adopted by the House of Commons on November 30, 2009.

It was endorsed by leaders of affected communities in Canada, including Milo Suchma (President, Czech and Slovak Association of Canada), Agnes Somorjai, (President, Canadian Hungarian Heritage Association), Avo Kittask, (President, Estonian Central Council), Andris Kesteris (President, Latvian National Federation), Joana Kuras (President, Lithuanian Canadian Community), Wladyslaw Lizon (President, Canadian Polish Congress), Paul Grod (President, Ukrainian Canadian Congress), Helen Bucic (President, Slovak Canadian Association).

Black Ribbon Day historically commemorates the anniversary of the infamous Molotov- Ribbentrop pact, a sinister partnership treaty between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia that allowed each to violently and illegally seize the lands and peoples situated between them.

Twenty five years ago, Canada’s Central and Eastern European communities, by initiating Black Ribbon Day, were instrumental in bringing international attention and understanding of the plight of their heritage nations.  This Canadian initiative organized demonstrations in 21 cities on both sides of the Iron Curtain.   In 1989 close to 2 million people formed a human chain across the Baltic republics and by 1991, demonstrations were held in 56 cities on three continents.

Resolution by the Parliament of Canada

By unanimous consent, it was resolved, —

 (1) WHEREAS the Government of Canada has actively advocated for and continues to support the principles enshrined by the United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 260 (III) A of December 9, 1948;

 (2) WHEREAS the extreme forms of totalitarian rule practiced by the Nazi and Communist dictatorships led to premeditated and vast crimes committed against millions of human beings and their basic and inalienable rights on a scale unseen before in history;

(3) WHEREAS hundreds of thousands of human beings, fleeing the Nazi and Soviet Communist crimes, sought and found refuge in Canada;

(4) WHEREAS the millions of Canadians of Eastern and Central European descent whose families have been directly affected by Nazi and/or Communist crimes have made unique and significant, cultural, economic, social and other contributions to help build the Canada we know today;

(5) WHEREAS 20 years after the fall of the totalitarian Communist regimes in Europe, knowledge among Canadians about the totalitarian regimes which terrorised their fellow citizens in Central and Eastern Europe for more than 40 years in the form of systematic and ruthless military, economic and political repression of the people by means of arbitrary executions, mass arrests, deportations, the suppression of free expression, private property and civil society and the destruction of cultural and moral identity and which deprived the vast majority of the peoples of Central and Eastern Europe of their basic human rights and dignity, separating them from the democratic world by means of the Iron Curtain and the Berlin Wall, is still alarmingly superficial and inadequate;

(6) WHEREAS Canadians were instrumental during the 1980’s in raising global awareness of crimes committed by European totalitarian Nazi and Communist regimes by founding an annual “Black Ribbon Day” on August 23, to commemorate the legal partnership of these two regimes through the infamous Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and its

BE IT RESOLVED THAT every victim of any totalitarian regime has the same human dignity and deserves justice, remembrance and recognition by the Parliament and the Government of Canada, in efforts to ensure that such crimes and events are never again repeated;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the Parliament and the Government of Canada unequivocally condemn the crimes against humanity committed by totalitarian Nazi and Communist regimes and offer the victims of these crimes and their family members sympathy, understanding and recognition for their suffering;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the Government of Canada establish an annual Canadian Day of Remembrance for the victims of Nazi and Soviet Communist crimes on August 23, called “Black Ribbon Day”, to coincide with the anniversary of the signing of the infamous pact between the Nazi and Soviet Communist regimes.

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