Two leaders in British Columbia’s Legislative Assembly have issued a joint statement in celebration of Jewish Heritage Month, which takes place in May.
Mable Elmore, Parliamentary Secretary for Anti-Racism Initiatives, and Selina Robinson, Minister of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills, described Jewish Heritage Month as a “time to celebrate the Jewish community’s significant contributions to British Columbia’s collective success, social welfare, cultural achievements, politics, growth and prosperity.”
“Jewish Canadians have been part of B.C.’s cultural fabric since the first settlers arrived here in the late 1800s, and they have made significant contributions to the province ever since,” the MLAs said. “Unfortunately, reported antisemitic incidents have increased significantly in recent years. This is why it is as important as ever to not only stand up against these unjust acts, but to educate ourselves about the many contributions Jewish British Columbians have made to our province’s diversity and strength.”
They praised the community for its long history of leadership in the province.
“Early on, many Jewish people took on leadership roles that changed the course of BC’s growth,” they said.
“Leaders like Lumley Franklin, who became the second mayor of Victoria in 1866 and presided over the installation of the telegraph cable linking Victoria directly to England. He also supported the unification of Vancouver Island and British Columbia. The two colonies merged during his first year in office. And David Oppenheimer, who was elected the second mayor of Vancouver in 1888. During his tenure, he established the first fire department, a ferry across Burrard Inlet, the streetcar system and Stanley Park.”
The parliamentarians added that today we continue to see significant contributions by Jewish communities and individuals in helping BC thrive.
“One concrete example can be found in the Lower Mainland, where the Jewish Community Centre is being redeveloped and expanded to include recreation facilities, a theatre, art gallery, a performing arts school, a youth and senior day centre, and the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. It will also provide up to 200 new child care spaces and 500 units of mixed-use housing. The government has provided $25 million for this community-changing project, and we applaud the vision and ambition that is bringing this dream to life.”
Elmore and Robinson encouraged residents of the province to “learn more about the history and contributions of Jewish British Columbians, and to join us in condemning antisemitism in all its forms.”