July 24, Toronto – A group of Asian community leaders held a press conference today in Scarborough to update the community on Bill 79 and urge Ontario residents and politicians alike to support the bill.

Soo Wong, the Scarborough-Agincourt MPP who tabled the private member’s bill, attended the press conference as a guest speaker. Wong remarked that her bill has received overwhelming support not just from the Chinese community, but from all communities across Ontario, and she has so far tabled close to 90,000 petitions to the Ontario Legislature.  She said the purpose of the bill is to make sure that young people know about and remember an important piece of human tragedy happened in Asia during the Second World War. “This is a human rights issue. It’s about humanity,” stressed Wong, “Ontario leads in many areas, such as technology and medicine. It should lead in human rights, too.” She encouraged Ontarians to write to their MPPs and talk about the bill with their neighbours and associates, noting that this fall is very critical to the passage of the bill.

Dr. Wong, Chair of Toronto ALPHA (Association for Learning and Preserving the History of WWII in Asia) echoed the MPP’s calling and reiterated that timing is very critical. If the bill doesn’t get passed in the fall, then it’s virtually dead, with the next provincial election set in June 2018. Dr. Wong called on the Premier to take a moral stand and support the Bill 79. “The two opposition leaders, Mr. Patrick Brown of the PC Party and Ms. Andrea Horwath of the NDP, have both declared their support, but Premier Kathleen Wynne still has reluctance to accept the bill,” stated Dr. Wong, “That is wrong.” He noted that the Ontario Legislature has passed bills to commemorate the Holocaust and Holodomor, both being atrocities committed in Europe. “Why just Europe? Why not Asia? Are Asian victims not worth remembering?” questioned Dr. Wong, “We must show the legislature our determination. And it’s important to let the Premier know that we perceive this as a racism issue.”

Dr. Wong pointed out that the Japanese people were also victims of the war, both in Japan and in Canada during WWII. Bill 79 is never about pointing fingers and blaming people. It’s about history education, because “human beings have been killing human beings throughout history and have never learned the lesson.”

Joy Kogawa, a well know Japanese Canadian author, mentioned that the long denial from the Japanese community came from the fear of being hated, yet the continued denial would expose them to more hatred. It is out of love that she decides to stand up and support Bill 79 – love for Japan and all Japanese Canadians, and love for all humanity.  It is only through recognizing the wrongs can the Japanese people move on and be in harmony with other nations. She appealed to people to not hate the Japanese but to love them, which she believed is the only way to help them face the history. Being a multicultural community, Toronto is an ideal place for such reconciliation to begin.

Ren Ito, a young leader of the Japanese Canadian community, recognized the importance of history being told. He acknowledged that the Japanese Canadian community is not ready for Bill 79, and it would be a tremendous amount of work to get them to the point of accepting such a bill. He called upon the communities to “start doing this work, start talking to each other and working together to make a better society.”

Eric Xiao, president of CPAC, remarked that Bill 79 is not just about the Chinese community but humanity as a whole. He believed that it is of paramount importance for the children, the younger generation to have the opportunity to learn about Nanjing Massacre and ensure it wouldn’t happen again. He also commented on the fact that there are the holocaust memorial day and other memorial days in Toronto, which are similar in nature as the Nanjing Massacre memorial day, except they happened in Europe while Nanjing Massacre was an Asian event.

Peter Lin, President of Chinese Confederation Association, urged the public to support the Bill with action. He asked people to reach out to other communities in Toronto for their support.  Quoting Justin Trudeau’s speech in Ottawa, he stated that Bill 79 was no difference from other Holocaust and Genocide memorial bills, which carried the meaning of fighting against racism. He emphasized that all politicians have a choice to stand against racism and as voters, we can pressure them by casting our vote wisely.

Bill 79, the Nanjing Massacre Commemorative Day Act, 2016, passed Second Reading in the Ontario Legislature. The Bill received unanimous voice vote from all three parties, and it will now be referred to the Standing Committee of Justice Policy. If passed, December 13th will be designated as the Nanjing Massacre Commemorative Day in Ontario.   

Captions:

[Bill 79 press conf 01_20170724] Japanese Canadian author Joy Kogawa speaking at the press conference in support of Bill 79

[Bill 79 press conf 02_20170724] From the left: Flora Chong, Executive Director of ALPHA Education, Peter Lin, President of CTCCO, Soo Wong, MPP for Scarborough-Agincourt, Dr. Joseph YK Wong, Chair of Toronto ALPHA, Eric Xiao, President of CPAC, Joy Kogawa, Ren Ito

(Photos are provided by ALPHA Education)

 

 

7月24日, 省議員黃素梅、多倫多史維會會長王裕佳醫生、加拿大著名日裔作家小川樂Joy Kogawa、加拿大日裔青年伊藤廉 Ren Ito、加拿大中國專業人士協會會長肖楚強、多倫多華人團體聯合總會主席林性勇, 在加拿大中國專業人士協會舉行記者招待會,向社區匯報第79號法案的进展情況。

自去年12月起, 第79號法案在多倫多史維會、加拿大中國專業人士協會、多倫多華聯會等社区組織的支持下, 展開了十萬人簽名運動。在廣泛的群眾支持下,已收集到逾十万签名,省議員黃素梅已分期分批向議會呈上9萬個合格簽名(有幾千個簽名因為信息不全作廢)。未來三個月是議案通過的關鍵時期, 尤其明年六月將會重選議會, 如十二月仍不能獲得通過,那麽此議案就會流產。黄议员重申79法案不只是關於華裔群眾, 是關乎所有安省市民; 希望籍著議案教育下一代, 紀念二次大戰中的受害者, 是一個關於人道主義的議案。她呼籲大眾繼續動員自己的同事、鄰居和朋友,特別是所在區的省議員,對議案表達支持

多倫多史維會會長王裕佳醫生指出, 議案目前已得到兩大反對黨領袖的支持, 但是安省省長韋恩卻仍未有積極回應。“這是不對的,” 王醫生說。 安省議會曾通過紀念猶太人大屠殺和紀念烏克蘭人大饑荒死難者的法案。“為什麽只是歐洲? 為什麽沒有亞洲? 亞洲受害者難道就不值得纪念嗎?“王醫生質疑:”我們必須向省議會證明我們的決心,同時重要的還要讓省長知道,我們認為這是一個種族歧視問題!”他呼籲民眾不斷向省長寫信,表達訴求。王醫生說:十二月將是最後的機會, 大眾必須在未來三個月展示決心和團結,促成議案在十二月南京大屠殺的80週年時獲得通過。他指出二次大戰的受害者當中也有日本人, 希望南京大屠殺紀念日可以讓所有人聯結起來, 互相支持, 一起紀念二次大戰中的受害者, 讓人能從歷史中學習, 避免戰爭再次發生。

會上焦點之一是著名加拿大日裔作家小川樂(Joy Kogawa)的講話; 身為日裔的她在認識了南京大屠殺的歷史後,久久不能釋懷。令她未能釋懷的是因為很多人仍未知道甚至否定南京大屠殺的真相, 沒有真相, 也不知道如何向前。她很愛日本, 以及她的日裔同胞,而且正正因為愛, 她渴望所有的日本人能面對歷史, 鼓勵日本政府不要害怕承認這段史實及在當中的責任。同時,她也希望各族裔均可展示愛和包容, 讓大家用愛從戰爭的創傷中痊癒。

加拿大日裔青年領袖伊藤廉 (Ren Ito)了解到一些日本團體仍不願意談論南京大屠殺, 甚至有很多日本人仍不知道或很難接受有這段歷史, 但强調仍有部份日本人是開始願意在這話題上和大家展開對話。

加拿大中國專業人士協會會長肖楚強認為安省作為加拿大領先的省份, 之前亦確認了猶太人大屠殺紀念日和烏克蘭大飢荒死難者紀念日和亞美尼亞種族滅絕紀念日, 確認和成立南京大屠殺紀念日亦是理所當然的。

多倫多華人團體聯合總會主席林性勇指出大眾要團結一致, 爭取最大的社會力量和不同種族支持, 令79法案得以通過。他引述總理杜鲁多在出席渥太華猶太人大屠殺紀念活動時所指, 加拿大絕不容許種族屠殺的發生, 加拿大必須要保障多元文化。他鼓勵大眾在來年的選舉中, 選出能申張社會公義的代表。

由省議員黃素梅提出的第79號個人議案,已於去年12月8日通過了二讀。簽名支持79號法案的人數已經打破了省議會有史以來任何法案支持人數的紀錄, 表明許多安大略省人民強烈希望看到這項法案在省立法機構進行三讀並通過。各社區會緊密聯系定出未來數月的推動工作,亦會在稍後時間作出詳細说明。

照片说明:

【Bill 79 press conf 01_20170724】著名日裔作家Joy Kogawa(中)在新聞發布會上發言

【Bill 79 press conf 01_20170724】參加新聞發布會嘉賓左起:亞洲二戰歷史教育中心行政總監劉美玲(Fiona Chong)、多倫多華人團體聯合總會主席林性勇(Peter Lin)、省議員黃素梅(Soo Wong)、多倫多史維會會長王裕佳醫生(Dr. Joseph YK Wong) 、加拿大中國專業人士協會會長肖楚強 (Eric Xiao) 、加拿大著名日裔作家小川樂Joy Kogawa 、加拿大日裔青年伊藤廉 Ren Ito

(新闻照片由ALPHA Education 提供)

 

 

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