A plaque's failure to mention Jewish people as the main victims of the Holocaust sparked controversy after the Sept. 27 unveiling of the new national monument at LeBreton Flats. Michael MacKinnon, Centretown News

Government scrambles to reference Jews on key plaque at new Holocaust Monument

By Michael Sun


The federal government has removed and will replace a plaque at Ottawa’s recently unveiled National Holocaust Monument after an uproar over the fact that the wording failed to mention Jewish people or Anti-Semitism.


The oversight was brought to public attention by Conservative MP David Sweet in question period on Oct. 3. Sweet asked if Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would fix the “profoundly obvious omission.”


The plaque originally stated: “The National Holocaust Memorial commemorates the millions of men, women and children murdered during the Holocaust and honours the survivors who persevered and were able to make their way to Canada after one of the darkest chapters in history.”


It also stated it “recognizes the contributions these survivors have made to Canada and serves as a reminder that we must be vigilant in standing guard against hate, intolerance and discrimination.”


The plaque was taken down and will be “replaced with language that reflects the horrors experienced by the Jewish people,” Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly later stated.


The monument was inaugurated Sept. 27, located next to the Canadian War Museum. Before the inauguration, Canada was the only Allied country without a national Holocaust monument.


Rabbi Daniel Friedman, chair of the National Holocaust Monument Development Council, has publicly apologized for the failed mention of Jews in the original, high-profile plaque at the memorial site.


“On the big day, we suddenly realized that an egregious error had been made,” Friedman stated in a letter published Oct. 12 by the Ottawa Citizen. “In amongst the debates over wording and plaque positioning, somehow the one plaque that introduced the others – and made no sense outside the context of the plaques detailing the Nazi genocide of six million Jews along with homosexuals, the disabled and others – ended up mounted all on its own on a separate wall.”

Friedman acknowledged that “visitors to the site were rightly disturbed to encounter this major injustice to the memory of the six million Jews for whom the monument was built. All of the parties involved are deeply remorseful and we apologize unconditionally for the pain we have caused by this oversight.”

Friedman added: “I want to thank the Trudeau government for acting expeditiously to amend the plaque as soon as the error was brought to its attention.”