108th Anniversary Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide and Flag Raising Ceremony at British Columbia Legislature

April 24 2023 was a memorable, historic day for the Armenian community of British Columbia.

Following years of advocacy and effort by the Armenian National Committee of Canada – Western Region, the Armenian Community of British Columbia bore witness to two historic achievements in one day. The flag of Artsakh was raised at the BC Legislature. The Premier of BC Hon. David Eby attended and spoke at the commemoration event for the 108th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.

Armenian community members from across BC were in Victoria early in the morning to witness the flag raising ceremony in front of the BC Legislature Building.

The flag raising, assisted by ANCC representative Vahe Andonian, is symbolic of the resilience and never ending struggle of the Armenian people, to stop ethnic cleansing and new genocides. It reinforces the support from around the world for the Armenians of Artsakh and Armenia, in their struggle, and our struggle, for freedom, justice, and peace.

The noon hour commemoration event has become an April tradition in the Legislature.  This year it was organized and hosted by the government of British Columbia and Health Minister Adrian Dix, who initiated the event and introduced the guests.

Premier David Eby spoke of the genocidal crimes committed by the Ottoman Empire and its successor state Turkey, and paid tribute to the contribution of Armenians, now in the diaspora, to their new host countries. He singled out the remarkable Egoyan family of Victoria, who immigrated from a genocide survivor community in Egypt, and whose children (Atom and Eve) have become prominent Canadian artists in film and music.

ANCC representative Jack Deragopian, after a moment of silence, introduced Armenian Youth Federation member and high school student Lorig Korajian, who gave a touching family history of the journey of her great-grandfather, Garabed Hakalmazian, the only survivor from his family. Garabed ended up a child orphan in Ethiopia, where he rebuilt a life for future generations.

Following remarks by MLA Teresa Wat, representing the BC United party, Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau recounted the words of her friend and legislature employee Artour Sogomonian, whose family is from Artsakh, where the people are endlessly resilient in the face of existential, genocidal threats from its hostile neighbour states.

Keynote speaker Karni Kochkrian of the AYF decried the inaction of the civilized world, while Azerbaijan and Turkey commit crimes and violence and blockade against the Armenians of Artsakh and Armenia, edging closer and closer to the precipice of another genocide, 108 years later.  She stated that British Columbia, Canada, and the entire international community, must speak out, must challenge and condemn the criminal actions of the two countries to deter them from future and more extreme and destructive actions.

To conclude the program, the audience was treated to two musical performances, the a capella singing of Horovel, by Very Rev. Fr. Karekin Shekherdemian of St. Gregory Armenian Church, and the sweet guitar rendition of the traditional Armenian lullaby “Oror”, by Tatoul Hadjian.  Tatoul is a Masters Music student at UBC whose musician father Kevork Hadjian was sadly killed while defending Artsakh during the September 2020 attacks by Azerbaijan.

The event was enriched by the attendance of many additional  MLAs, members of the United Armenian Committee of BC, and Armenian community members at large, who all came to honour the memory of the victims of the Genocide.

In the afternoon sitting of the House in the BC Legislature, Health Minister Adrian Dix  and opposition members Teresa Wat and Karin Kirkpatrick acknowledged the noon hour commemoration, and introduced the Armenian community, the ANCC representatives Titar Kochkrian, Meg Sulahian, Jack Deragopian, and Vahe Andonian, Father Karekin Shekherdemian, Rev. Father Keghart Garabedian of St. Vartan Armenian Church, and noted TV producer Margaret Mardirossian.

It was in April 2006, at the same location, when Motion M59 recognizing the Armenian Genocide as a crime against humanity, was unanimously passed in BC.

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