As the grandson of Armenian Genocide survivors and as the first Armenian MPP in Ontario, I continue to commemorate the Armenian Genocide in my daily activities. Today, as we reflect upon the 105th anniversary of those horrific events, I stand shoulder-to-shoulder to pay tribute to the victims of this and other crimes against humanity.
I first learned about the devastating experiences that my people endured from my grandparents. I heard their tragic stories and I saw their strength and willpower. During this dark period of history, Armenians, Assyrians, Greeks, Pontians, Chaldeans, and Syriacs were killed, deported from their ancestral homelands, and their communities annihilated. The painful memories and trauma have been carried by survivors and descendants for generations. As a third-generation survivor, I had to relive the trauma of the genocide because of the cruel denial policy of the perpetrator. How can I reconcile to the experience and loss of my family when the perpetrator makes the mind-boggling claim that it was my people who committed genocide? However, with this inherited trauma came an inherent resilience, resourcefulness, and patience.
I have experienced inter-generational trauma first-hand and understand the positive impact education and awareness have on the healing process. That is why I introduced Bill 97: An Act to proclaim the month of April as Genocide Awareness, Education, Condemnation, and Prevention Month in the Ontario Legislature a year ago. This Bill intends to bring healing to the survivors and descendants that now call Ontario home. In addition, by increasing awareness of the horrific tragedy and educating future generations of the impact of this heinous crime, I hope to bring reconciliation between the victim and the culprit.
Ontario has provided shelter to many persecuted individuals as well as victims of genocide and crimes against humanity such as survivors like the Ukrainian Holodomor, Jewish Holocaust, Rohingya’s, residents of Nanjing, and Tamils among many others. These survivors became vital contributors to our province and society. It is our responsibility to acknowledge the trauma that these survivors experienced. Genocide scholars have declared the 20th Century the Century of Genocide. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us as free democracies to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the victims and work together to prevent the 21st century from becoming another century of genocide. Education and recognition are essential tools to make “Never Again” a reality. I know when Bill 97 passes and becomes law the reconciliation can begin as the first step in Ontario.