On January 17, 1945, Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat, went missing in Budapest, Hungary. It is believed that Wallenberg was abducted and later murdered because of his successful efforts to protect Hungarian Jews from the Holocaust during the Second World War. Wallenberg is credited with saving tens of thousands of Jews by providing protective identity papers and refuge in safe houses.
In 1985, Wallenberg became the first honourary Canadian Citizen. For one family in Saskatchewan, however, Raoul Wallenberg’s legacy is more personal.
Mr. Elie Fenyes, a Grade 12 student in Saskatoon, recounted how Wallenberg’s actions in Hungary saved his then eight-year-old grandmother and her family. Speaking at Walter Murray Collegiate on January 15, 2014, and later that same day at St. Joseph High School, Mr. Fenyes paid tribute to the humanitarian who, in standing up against, hatred, persecution, and murder, preserved his family tree.
In thanking Mr. Fenyes for retelling this part of his family history, Chief Commissioner David Arnot asked the students in attendance to consider the power of the individual in making a difference. Chief Commissioner Arnot observed that our freedom requires us to:
- actively show our respect for others,
- defend our shared human rights, and
- promote our civic responsibility as Canadian citizens.
The annual commemorative events are organized by Congregation Agudas Israel and ThinkGoodDoGood.ca.