Saskatchewan Parliament
Saskatchewan ParliamentiStock

The Canadian province of Saskatchewan has announced it will be celebrating Jewish Heritage Month this May for the first time.

Saskatchewan’s Minister of Parks, Culture and Sport, Laura Ross, said in a statement that the province aims to recognize the history and contributions of Jewish Saskatchewanians during the month of May.

B’nai Brith Canada applauded the decision, describing being “thrilled the province of Saskatchewan will be celebrating Jewish Heritage Month this year.”

The advocacy organization added that it had previously requested that the province proclaim May as Jewish Heritage Month. It noted that Jewish people have lived in Saskatchewan predating the province joining Canada in 1905, and that early Jewish immigrants established farming communities, including the Edenbridge Hebrew Colony, that greatly contributed to the province’s agricultural industry.

“Our government is proud to proclaim May as Jewish Heritage Month in Saskatchewan, and recognize the contributions Jewish communities have made to our province,” Ross said. “In December 2022, the Government of Saskatchewan adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism, and we will continue our work in ensuring Saskatchewan is a safe place for all.”

“Today, there are more than 3,000 Jews in Saskatchewan,” said Marvin Rotrand, National Director of B’nai Brith’s League for Human Rights. “Active congregations exist in Regina and Saskatoon. However, one does not have to look far in rural Saskatchewan to discover Jewish history. For example, the Beth Israel Synagogue is a historic Carpenter Gothic style Orthodox synagogue located in Edenbridge in the rural municipality of Willow Creek, near Melfort. Jewish life is vibrant in Saskatchewan and we thank the province for recognizing the community’s contributions and history.”

Saskatchewan is the third province to formally recognize May as Jewish Heritage Month, after Ontario and British Columbia. The federal government previously enacted a national Jewish Heritage Month in 2018. Since that time, B’nai Brith has encouraged municipalities and school boards to formally recognize the month.

“We thank Saskatchewan for proclaiming May as Jewish Heritage Month” B’nai Brith Canada CEO Michael Mostyn said. “The province has taken a lead in combating antisemitism, most notably by adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism last December. We look forward to collaborating with the province on future projects to promote and uphold vibrant Jewish life.”

In December, Saskatchewan announced it was adopting the IHRA definition of antisemitism, to enhance antisemitism education and awareness about the Holocaust.

"Antisemitism is on the rise and must be condemned, along with all forms of intolerance and hatred,” Saskatchewan’s Minister of Justice and Attorney General Bronwyn Eyre said.

The move was welcomed by Jewish groups in Canada, with Mostyn saying that it “provides hope to Jewish Saskatchewanians and all concerned about the current state of antisemitism.”