ST. CATHARINES, Canada—“On this day, we gather to unveil the Armenian Genocide Monument of St. Catharines, which commemorates the tragic loss of life of the Armenian population during the waning days of the Ottoman Empire in 1915,” said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a statement that was read at the official unveiling and dedication ceremony of the Armenian Genocide Memorial in St. Catherines on April 30.
Hundreds of community members from the Niagara Region and elsewhere gathered at the Armenian Community Center of St. Catherines for the ceremony.
The 11-foot-tall monument that was unveiled on the front lawn of the Armenian Community Center, will stand to observe the memory of the 1.5 million victims of the Armenian Genocide.
“The unveiling of this monument in the historic Armenian community of St. Catharines will first of all serve to show our collective commitment towards remembering our past and demanding justice to take its course and also to educate the upcoming generations about what occurred in the past and how we should stand together today, as guardians of our identity and history,” said Sevag Belian, member of the Armenian National Committee (ANC) of St. Catharines-Niagara, and a member of the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) of Canada.
Along with hundreds of attendees, His Excellency Armen Yeganian, the ambassador of the Republic of Armenia in Canada, Mr. Marc Trouyet, the consul-general of France in Toronto, Members of the Clergy, Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Bureau member Hagop Der Khatchadourian, members of the ARF Canada Central Committee and the Armenian National Committee of Canada, elected officials from all three levels of Canadian government, and the Mayor of St. Catharines were given the honor to unveil the monument. A traditional Armenian cross-stone (Khatchkar) was also placed in front of the monument, symbolizing the spiritual ties of the Armenian people to the Christian faith. The Khatchkar was ceremoniously consecrated under the auspices of Archbishop Suren Kataroian and Bishop Abgar Hovakimian—the Primates of Canada—as well as Bishop Vazken Mirzakhanyan, the Primate of Georgia.
Despite the passage of a century, the Armenian community in Niagara dedicated the monument as a sign of perseverance and a solid commitment to not forget the legacy of their victims that died in the name of humanity and for the sake of justice.
“The struggle that was faced by our forefathers is as significant to us today, as it was 101 years ago. Therefore we urge and implore upon every single member of our community to provide their unconditional commitment and support to the collective efforts that are directed towards properly remembering and upholding the legacy of our martyrs and the eternity of our perseverance,” said Garbis Kavazanjian, chairman of the ANC of St. Catharines-Niagara.
The following is the message from Prime Minister Trudeau that was read at the event:
On this day, we gather to unveil the Armenian Genocide Monument of St. Catharines, which commemorates the tragic loss of life of the Armenian population during the waning days of the Ottoman Empire in 1915.
Both the Senate of Canada and the House of Commons have adopted resolutions referring to these events as genocide.
This monument will help preserve the memory of those who lost their lives, and those who suffered during this genocide and pay our deepest respects to their descendants, including those who now call Canada home.
Canadians of all backgrounds and faiths stand together in reaffirming our collective commitment to the values of pluralism, human rights, and diversity.
As we dedicate this monument, please join me in my hope for a peaceful future based on tolerance, respect, and reconciliation.
The Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P.
Prime Minister of Canada