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Ontario commemorates Nanjing massacre

By Li Na in Toronto and Lia Zhu in San Francisco | China Daily | Updated: 2018-12-11 07:27

Members of Canada's Parliament Jenny Wai Ching Kwan (left) and Geng Tan lay a wreath at the Nanjing Massacre Victims Monument, which was unveiled in Toronto, Canada, on Sunday. [Photo by Zou Zheng/Xinhua]

After a long campaign debated in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, the Nanjing Massacre Victims Monument was finally unveiled on Sunday in Richmond Hill, Toronto.

The monument follows the legislature's decision last year to observe Dec 13 as Nanjing Massacre Commemorative Day at the provincial level.

The Nanjing Massacre unfolded when Japanese troops captured the city in Jiangsu province on Dec 13, 1937. In six weeks, they killed some 300,000 Chinese civilians and unarmed soldiers.

Lessons of the massacre are not taught in Ontario classrooms as often as those of the Holocaust, said a former Ontario lawmaker, Soo Wong, whose motion was passed unanimously in the provincial legislature last year, recognizing Dec 13 as the day to commemorate the massacre in the province.

The legislature of Ontario, home to Canada's largest Asian community, with more than 3 million people of Asian descent, was the first regional legislative body in a Western country to adopt the motion.

Jointly launched by the Confederation of Toronto Chinese Canadian Organizations and Chinese Freemasons of Canada (Toronto), the monument was supported by Chinese communities in Canada with a donation of more than $180,000.

Engraved with "Remember History, Pray for Peace", the black granite monument at the Elgin Mills Cemetery faces east, toward the ancestral home of Chinese Canadians.

Han Tao, the Chinese consul general in Toronto, said that the memorial is not meant to evoke hatred but to prevent similar tragedies.

"The monument will help people of all backgrounds here understand the tragic history of the Nanjing Massacre, (and to) safeguard justice and value peace," said Han. "It will also deepen understanding and friendship between China and Canada and contribute to a stable and prosperous world."

Doug Ford, premier of Ontario, sent a message to acknowledge the horror of the crimes.

"We gather to remember the thousands of Chinese citizens who were brutalized and killed during the Sino-Japanese War. In doing so, we learn from the lessons of history and strengthen our commitment to peace and to building a better world."

Gayle Nathanson, associate director at the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, said at the Richmond Hill event that those who don't know the past are bound to repeat it.

"My hope is that today is only the beginning of a closer relationship between the Chinese community and the Jewish community, so that together we honor the victims of Nanjing and make sure that no such tragedy happens again," she said.

In the United States, a memorial service was also held in San Francisco on Sunday to mark the 81st anniversary of the massacre.

"Only when you squarely face history can you create the future. Today we mourn our compatriots, not to continue hatred, but to learn from history so that history is not repeated," said Zou Yonghong, China's deputy consul general in San Francisco.

"We gather here every year. We want to tell the world we will not forget, and we will make sure the younger generations will learn history," said Jennifer Cheung, president of the Rape of Nanking Redress Coalition.

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