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Joint statement on Jewish Heritage Month

CANADA, May 1 - Selina Robinson, Minister of Finance, and Rachna Singh, Parliamentary Secretary for Anti-Racism Initiatives, have released the following statement to mark Jewish Heritage Month:

“May is Jewish Heritage Month and an opportunity to celebrate the culture, perseverance and faith of B.C.’s Jewish community. 

“Jewish people began arriving in B.C. in the late 1850s, drawn to the West Coast by the discovery of gold in the Fraser River and Cariboo regions. B.C.’s first synagogue, Congregation Emanu-El, was built in Victoria in 1863 and is still a place of worship today – making it the oldest synagogue in continuous use in Canada. 

“Since then, Jews have come to this province in search of a better life for themselves and their families. They have contributed to the strength, diversity and prosperity of communities throughout B.C.

“For example, David Barrett (1930-2018) became Canada’s first Jewish premier when he was elected premier of B.C. in 1972. During his term in office, he brought in the BC Ambulance Service and the Agricultural Land Reserve and established what is now known as ICBC.

“Anne Sugarman, née Wodlinger, (1895-1973) was the first president of the Vancouver Council of Jewish Women. During the Second World War, she founded and chaired the Red Cross Salvage Scheme and later launched North America's first seeing-eye-dog program.

“Sadly, there has been an alarming increase in anti-Semitism and bigotry in B.C. over the past few years. The Jewish community is frequently targeted in police-reported hate crimes. This is why our government is committed to addressing racism and discrimination. Soon we will be introducing anti-racism data legislation to address systemic racism and improve equity in services and supports like health care and education.

“We must do more. As British Columbians, it’s on each of us to stand up against anti-Semitism whenever we encounter it. Only together can we combat the hate and bigotry that continues to rise online and in communities across our province.

“In honour of Jewish Heritage Month, I encourage everyone to learn more about the history of Jewish people in B.C. and to join us in recommitting to condemning anti-Semitism in all its forms."

Learn More:

For more information on the Jewish community in Canada, visit:

For more information about Jewish history in B.C., visit:

For more information on Victoria’s Congregation Emanu-El, visit:

For information on Lower Mainland Jewish community organizations, including schools, synagogues, cultural and social service organizations, visit: