Winnipeg skyline
Winnipeg skyline iStock

Public participation and awareness of this year’s Canadian Jewish Heritage Month hit record levels, B’nai Brith Canada said.

The advocacy organization credited their outreach to 36 municipalities, four school boards and two provinces resulting in proclamations or council motions to celebrate Jewish Heritage Month as leading to the highest uptake since the month of May was officially declared Jewish Heritage Month by Canada’s parliament five years ago.

In 2018, parliament declared that Jewish Heritage Month was “created as an opportunity to remember, celebrate and educate future generations about the inspirational role that Jewish Canadians have played and continue to play in communities across the country.”

“Jewish Heritage Month provides important recognition of the contributions that Jews have made to the success of their local communities and Canada as a whole and promotes solidarity in the struggle against antisemitism,” said B’nai Brith Canada CEO Michael Mostyn said. “We are pleased with the response to our efforts to recruit municipal partners to proclaim the Month and look forward to its continued growth.”

According to B’nai Brith, the communities that responded to its appeal to celebrate Jewish Heritage Month were Vancouver and Victoria of British Columbia; Ottawa, Markham, Newmarket, Barrie and Burlington of Ontario; Montreal and Dollard des Ormeaux of Quebec; Regina and Saskatoon of Saskatchewan; Fredericton, New Brunswick; and Winnipeg, Manitoba. In response to B’nai Brith’s letter to Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson, a private member’s bill was tabled using the organization’s text to officially proclaim Jewish Heritage Month. The final adoption is slated for the fall of 2022.

“We have had incredible support from mayors and councillors in promoting the Month,” said Marvin Rotrand, B’nai Brith’s National Director of its League for Human Rights. “Mayor Guthrie in Guelph, Mayor Vrbanovic in Kitchener, Mayor Stewart in Vancouver, Mayor Brownstein in Cote Saint Luc, Councillor Gaertner in Aurora, Mayor Bottausci in Dollard des Ormeaux, Mayor McCallum in Surrey, and Councillor Moroz in Montreal, were among the elected officials who got personally involved to ensure their communities aided in the success of the Heritage Month.”

At the beginning of May, 42 Canadian jurisdictions recognized Jewish Heritage Month, due to B’nai Brith’s campaign.

Noting that the Jewish community has a long history in Canada and has made many well known contributions to the country despite having to overcome discrimination, B’nai Brith explained that the month was not receiving the attention it merited, and so launched the initiative to promote it at all levels of the country.