Commemorating Black Ribbon Day

    Kateryna Bandura for New Pathway – Ukrainian News.

    Since 2009, Canadians mark August 23 as Black Ribbon Day, the sombre anniversary of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.

    “I encourage all peace-loving people to honour the victims and survivors of Communism and Nazism, and of all totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, past and present,” said Ukrainian World Congress President Paul Grod in a statement. “We must not allow Russia to whitewash the crimes of Soviet Communism and to glorify the cult of Stalin.”

    Black Ribbon Day was established through a unanimous resolution of Canada’s Parliament, claiming August 23 as the National Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Communism and Nazism in Europe. The date coincides with the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact 81 years ago, on August 23, 1939 in Moscow.

    The agreement, like others signed by the Soviets and Nazis, committed Hitler and Stalin to a period of non-aggression. Yet unlike other non-aggression treaties, the Hitler-Stalin pact included a secret protocol that carved up Central and Eastern Europe between Hitler and Stalin. It also facilitated the coordinated start of the Second World War in Poland. The Molotov-Ribbentrop pact subjected millions of Central and Eastern Europeans to violent repression and occupation by the Soviets and Nazis, from Finland in the north and to Romania in the south.

    Adolf Hitler redirected his aggression towards millions of Eastern Europeans, who had suffered Soviet repression and faced the Nazi menace, mass repression and the unspeakable horrors of the Holocaust. Thanks to the Allies, Western Europe was liberated, but Eastern and Central Europe would remain occupied by the Soviet Union for another half century. For them, the war did not end until 1991.

    In Russia, Vladimir Putin continues to leverage Stalin’s Second World War legacy to add legitimacy to his own authoritarian rule. A greater concern is Putin’s emulation of Stalin’s tactics, including foreign aggression, domestic repression, and the violent silencing of his critics.

    “Today, as Putin’s Russia wages wars of aggression against its neighbours and manipulates history by rehabilitating Stalin’s murderous past, we must recall the lessons of history to ensure that the crimes of Nazism and Communism are never repeated,” said Alexandra Chyczij, National President of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress.

    Many of those who fled in 1930s and 40s found refuge and an opportunity to rebuild their lives in Canada. They, along with their descendants, have made tremendous contributions to Canada, helping build the strong, diverse, and prosperous country.

    “Today, we join people around the world to pay tribute to the victims of Communism and Nazism in Europe,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a statement. “We express our solidarity with the survivors and their descendants, and with all those who face violence, loss of dignity, and repression from authoritarian and totalitarian regimes.”

    Trudeau invited Canadians to remember the victims on Black Ribbon Day and all those who lost their lives to authoritarian and totalitarian regimes.