The Wallenberg-Sugihara Civil Courage Society (WSCCS) was formed in 2013 by members of the Swedish and Jewish communities. The WSCCS continues the legacy of the annual Wallenberg Day events in Vancouver: it recognizes and honours individuals who, at great personal risk, have helped others by acting against unjust laws, norms or conventions. At the January 2015 event, WSCCS presented the first Civil Courage Award to acknowledge heroic acts in today’s world. These acts of civil courage, as exemplified by Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg and Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara, are a model for us all.
Raoul Wallenberg was a Swedish architect, businessman, diplomat, and humanitarian. He rescued up to one hundred thousand Jews in Nazi-occupied Hungary during the Holocaust from Hungarian Fascists and the Nazis during the later stages of World War II. While serving as Sweden's special envoy in Budapest between July and December 1944, Wallenberg issued protective passports and sheltered Jews in buildings designated as Swedish territory. His actions were at risk to his own life. Following the Soviet capture of Budapest in 1945, Wallenberg disappeared.
Chiune Sugihara was a Japanese diplomat who served as Vice-Consul for the Empire of Japan in Lithuania. During World War II, he helped several thousand Jews leave the country by issuing transit visas to refugees in direct violation of orders from the Japanese Government. Most of the Jews who escaped were refugees from German-occupied Poland and residents of Lithuania. Sugihara wrote travel visas that facilitated the escape of more than 6,000 Jewish refugees to Japanese territory, risking his career and his family's lives.
The annual Wallenberg Day event in Vancouver pays tribute to the courageous and heroic actions inspired by these two men who engaged in selfless acts of civil courage, at grave risk to themselves, their families and their future by choosing to follow their own personal moral code and save the lives of large numbers of Jews during WWII. Their names stand as a symbol for all such courageous and heroic acts. Over the past nine years, the event has screened films highlighting the acts of Wallenberg and Sugihara and other such individuals from Sweden (Harald Edelstam), Portugal (Aristides de Sousa Mendes), Spain (Ángel Sanz Briz), and Britain (Nicholas Winton).
We need these stories to remind ourselves of the inherent good that lives within people, to educate, to pay tribute, to remember and finally to inspire people today and future generations to act with courage and live their values, thus healing the world.
The WSCCS is passionate about wanting to leave a legacy encouraging others to engage in behaviours inspired by Wallenberg and Sugihara. We are seeking to identify people who, at significant personal risk, have helped to improve or save the lives of others by going against unjust laws or conventions. Names of suggested individuals who meet the criteria of being associated with BC (although their actions may have taken place outside of the Province) will be reviewed. For more information, visit our website at www.wsccs.ca. To be added to our mailing list, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.