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Judy Wasylycia-Leis, Anita Neville, Gail Asper, and Yude Henteleff at Auchwitz


Judy Wasylycia-Leis, Anita Neville, Gail Asper, and Yude Henteleff at Auchwitz

 
FROM COMPASSION TO ACTION: JUDY WASYLYCIA-LEIS ATTENDS MISSION TO POLAND

By Resa Ostrove , [author of the children’s book Freddie’s Problem]

Winnipeg MP, Judy Wasylycia-Leis was one of twenty delegates to be invited to attend the March 2010 mission to Poland by the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies.  Along with Wasylycia-Leis, Liberal M.P. for Winnipeg-South Anita Neville, Gail Asper and Yude Henteleff made up the Winnipeg contingency.  They were joined by Holocaust survivor, Max Eisen, from Toronto, as well as mayors, police chiefs, educators and journalists from across Canada.

Wasylycia Leis, who has just recently announced she will be resigning her seat in Parliament in order to run to be Mayor of Winnipeg spoke about her recent trip to Poland at the  Etz Chaim synagogue on  April , 2010, as part of Holocaust Awareness week.

In an interview with the Winnnipeg Jewish Review, Wasylycia-Lies spoke about her recent experience in Poland: 
“I have long been interested in educating myself about the Holocaust.  But nothing could have prepared me for what I saw.  From Majdanek to Auchwitz 1, to Auchwitz-Birkenau, there are no words to describe the gas chambers, crematoriums, the mounds of human hair, ashes and shoes.  There are even fewer words, or none, to describe the contempt, the destruction of human beings by Hitler and the Third Reich, whose agenda was to exterminate the Jewish race.

‘‘Fortunately, our delegation included a Holocaust survivor, Max Eisen, from Toronto.  With his help, we traced the steps of those who marched to the extermination camps, the struggles of those who faced death and sometimes survived, and the acts of heroism where lives were risked for the sake of others.  Everywhere we heard about acts of courage from Jews and Poles alike.  Suffice it to say, it was a life-changing journey revealing the horrors of the Holocaust and reminding us of the responsibility we all share for ensuring that such history does not repeat itself.”

Wasylycia-Leis  is well-known for  her efforts to combat anti-Semitism both locally and nationally. During her position as an MP, she was instrumental in getting the private member’s bill she introduced in Parliament calling for the creation of a national day of remembrance of the Holocaust passed in the House of Commons. Bill C-459 wasenthusiastically endorsed by all political parties, and was unanimously passed in the House of Commons on the same day that it was introduced; October 21, 2003.  Holocaust Memorial Day would be commemorated in Canada on the day of Yom Ha’Shoah according to the Hebrew lunar calendar from then on.

Presently, Wasylycia- Leis has completed her thirteenth successful year as the MP for Winnipeg North, and has recently become a member of CPCAA; Canadian Parliamentary Coalition Against Anti-Semitism.

Wasylycia-Leis was no stranger to the horrors of World War ll.  Her father fought for the Canadian Forces and helped to liberate Holland.  He met her mother there, and, so it was a special honour, indeed, when Wasylycia-Leis was asked to attend the 55th anniversary of the liberation of Holland by Canadian forces.  The trip in 2000 was sponsored by Veterans Affairs of Canada, and it was an all-party delegation that attended.

Wasylycia-Leis told the Winnipeg Jewish Review that she became particularly aware of the need to address the growing incidents of anti-Semitism in Winnipeg as constituents in her riding contacted her to let her know how deeply concerned they were regarding this issue.  She was determined to learn all she could regarding the prejudice that Israel faced so she could be a better spokesperson for her constituents, and Canadian Jews at large. 

In 2008, Wasylycia-Leis attended the 60th anniversary celebrations marking the birth of the state of Israel, as part of an all-party delegation sponsored by the Canadian Jewish Political Action Committee.

“I was honoured to be part of this significant historical event, and to be reminded about the struggles of the Jewish people and the importance of vigilance in the face of anti-Semitism,” she told the Winnipeg Jewish Review.

Wasylycia-Leis said she came away from that trip with a healthy respect for the people, the diversity and vibrancy of the cultures in Israel, and for the  judicial system that upheld justice for all citizens of  the democratic state of Israel.

 
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Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.


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