Canada Announces Members of National Holocaust Monument Development Council

April 2, 2012 - On behalf of Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, the Honourable Tim Uppal, Minister of State (Democratic Reform), today announced the members of the National Holocaust Monument Development Council. The council is a group of volunteers who will be responsible for spearheading a fundraising campaign to cover the cost of planning, construction and maintenance of the monument. The council will also advise the minister of foreign affairs during the planning and design phases.

“Canada has been a strong leader in the fight against anti-Semitism and all forms of racism,” said Minister of State Uppal. “The National Holocaust Monument Development Council’s work will recognize the important contributions to our country of those who survived these horrific events and will honour the memory of those who were victims of the Holocaust. We must never forget what happens when humanity and fundamental human rights are discarded, as this is the only way to ensure it will never happen again.”

The members of the council are:

  • Daniel Friedman, Rabbi, Beth Israel Synagogue, Edmonton
  • Ralf E. Lean, Q.C., Cassels Brock and Blackwell LLP
  • Alvin Segal, Chairman and CEO of Peerless Clothing Inc.
  • Fran Sonshine, National Chair of the Canadian Society for Yad Vashem

The National Holocaust Monument will promote a better understanding of the historical events of the Holocaust and their effect on Canadian history.

For more information, consult National Holocaust Monument.

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A backgrounder with biographies and further information follows.

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Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
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Backgrounder

Biographies

Daniel Friedman is serving as rabbi at Beth Israel Synagogue in Edmonton. He is also past-president of Jewish Family Services Edmonton, an executive member of the Rabbinical Council of America and a member of the Chicago Rabbinical Council. He served as rabbi of Newtown Synagogue in Sydney, Australia, campus rabbi of Congregation Beth Sholom in Mineola, New York, and associate rabbi at Temple Beth El in Long Beach, New York. Rabbi Friedman writes and speaks regularly about Judaism in a number of forums. In 2005, he earned an Alberta Centennial Medal for outstanding community service. He is pursuing a doctorate in international relations at the University of Alberta.

Ralph E. Lean is senior partner at Cassels Brock & Blackwell, a Toronto legal firm. He serves on the board of governors of both B’nai Brith Canada and the Portage Program for Drug Dependencies, and as chair of Right to Play Canada. He has also served on several other boards, including those of the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and the Waterfront Revitalization Corporation and Exhibition Place in Toronto. Mr. Lean holds a BV distinguished peer-review rating from Martindale-Hubbell.

Alvin Segal is chairman and chief executive officer of Peerless Clothing. A member of the executive committees of the Apparel Manufacturers Institute of Quebec and of the Canadian Apparel Federation, Mr. Segal played a pivotal role in negotiations leading to both the Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement and the North American Free Trade Agreement. Mr. Segal is president and chairman of the board of the Segal Centre for Performing Arts. He was the recipient of the 2006 Conseil des arts de Montréal [Montréal arts council] and Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal’s Arts/Business Personality award. Mr. Segal is the benefactor of the Segal Cancer Centre at the Jewish General Hospital. For his contribution to the apparel industry, he was appointed a member of the Order of Canada in 2002 and promoted to officer of the Order of Canada in 2010 for his continued philanthropy. Additionally, he was appointed officer of the Ordre national du Québec in June 2011 for his dedication and contribution to arts and health care in the city of Montréal.

Fran Sonshine is currently national chair of the Canadian Society for Yad Vashem, the country’s leading authority for Holocaust education, commemoration, documentation and research. A former schoolteacher, she served as co-chair of the United Jewish Appeal (UJA) Federation of Greater Toronto’s 2009 annual campaign and as chair of the UJA Federation’s 2005 Women’s Campaign and Advocacy. She is a past chair of both the Baycrest board of directors and its foundation and a former member of the board of National Women’s Philanthropy, an organization of the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA; formerly, United Jewish Communities). In 2010, JFNA named her the Toronto recipient of the Kipnis-Wilson/Friedland Award. Ms. Sonshine’s other accolades include the UJA Federation’s 2011 Ben Sadowski Award of Merit, the UJA’s 2003 Shem Tov Award and the 1996 Hadassah-WIZO’s Volunteer of Distinction Award.

The National Holocaust Monument

The Holocaust was the systematic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of approximately 6 million Jews by the German Nazi regime and its collaborators during the Second World War.

Jews were the primary victims of the Holocaust, but millions more were also targeted for racial, ethnic, or national reasons. Disabled persons, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Soviet prisoners of war, and political dissidents also experienced persecution and death.

The Government of Canada has committed to establishing a national monument that will serve as a symbol of Canadian values and diversity and as a memorial to the innocent men, women and children who perished during the Holocaust.

The National Holocaust Monument, to be located in the National Capital Region, will bring Canadians of all faiths together to honour the memory of the millions of Holocaust victims murdered by the Nazis. The monument will help ensure the memory of the Holocaust is never lost. The hope is that by teaching Canadians the root causes of this atrocity, future acts of genocide will be prevented. The monument will remind us that we must be vigilant; we must stand guard against hatred while promoting tolerance and human rights for all people.

The 2010 Speech from the Throne affirmed the Government of Canada’s commitment to supporting a national Holocaust memorial. On March 25, 2011, the National Holocaust Monument Act received Royal Assent, and the Government of Canada pledged to establish the monument in the National Capital Region. As minister responsible for the National Capital Commission, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird is responsible for overseeing this project.

The National Holocaust Monument Act requires the Minister responsible for the National Capital Region to oversee the creation of a Development Council of no more than five members.