Welcome (Alan Le Fevre)

My name is Alan Le Fevre, and it is my honour to welcome you to the 12th commemoration of the Wallenberg Day in Vancouver.  Raoul Wallenberg was a Swedish envoy in Budapest, who saved many thousands of Jews during World War II.  He disappeared on 17th of January, 1945, into Soviet captivity, never to be seen again.

He was made an honorary Citizen of Canada in 1985, and in 2000 the Canadian Government proclaimed that “throughout Canada, in each and every year, the 17th day of January shall be known under the name of ‘Raoul Wallenberg Day’ ”.  The Wallenberg-Sugihara Civil Courage Society organizes this annual commemoration on the Sunday closest to the 17th of January.

This year we are paying tribute to the courageous work by MSF (Médecins Sans Frontières), Doctors without Borders.  Proceeds of today’s event will be shared with MSF.

Now I would like to ask Ana Policzer to read a proclamation from the City of Vancouver.  And then Jan Nordin will tell us about the Wallenberg-Sugihara Civil Courage Society, before he introduces our MSF speaker Dr Joseph Copeland.

City of Vancouver Proclamation (Ana Policzer)

Wallenberg-Sugihara Civil Courage Society (Jan Nordin)

We are passionate about the Wallenberg-Sugihara Civil Courage Society, and its mission to encourage acts of civil courage.  Today we pay tribute to Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders).

The Wallenberg-Sugihara Civil Courage Society was formed 3 years ago to continue the work of organizing the annual Raoul Wallenberg Day after its founder, the Swedish Consul in Vancouver, Anders Neumuller, retired and went back to Sweden.

The Society recognizes and honours individuals who risked their personal well being to help others.  Acts of civil courage, as exemplified by Swedish Diplomat Raoul Wallenberg and Japanese Diplomat Chiune Sugihara are a model for us all.

Raoul Wallenberg served as Sweden’s special envoy in Nazi-occupied Budapest between July and December 1944, where he rescued thousands of Jews during World War II, by issuing protective passports and providing shelter in buildings designated as Swedish territory, risking his own life.  Following the Soviet capture of Budapest, Raoul Wallenberg disappeared on January 17, 1945, and his fate in Soviet communist custody remains a mystery.

Chiune Sugihara was a Japanese diplomat in Lithuania.  During World War II, he helped thousands of Jews leave the country, by issuing transit visas to refugees in direct violation of orders from the Japanese Government, thereby risking his career and his family’s lives.

We are planning a separate viewing of a recent movie about him – “Persona Non Grata”.

Each year the Raoul Wallenberg Day in Vancouver pays tribute to the courageous actions of people engaged in selfless acts of civil courage.  Over the past years, the event has screened films highlighting the acts of Wallenberg, Sugihara, and others.  Recently we have also given two Awards for Civil Courage in BC.  In 2015, to the honorable Ujjal Dosanjh, who received the Civil Courage Award for extraordinary courage in standing up against physical political violence in our community, and a year ago to Chief Dr. Robert Joseph who received our Award for civil courage in moving a reconciliation process forward in our community.

For today’s Raoul Wallenberg Day we do not have a Civil Courage Award recipient, as the Award cannot be given to an organization – but we will continue to give individual Awards at future events.

These stories about Civil Courage remind us of the inherent good within people and will inspire people today and future generations to act with courage and live their values, thereby helping to heal the world.

We are actively seeking people who, at significant personal risk, have helped improve the lives of others by going against unjust laws or conventions.  Go to our website www.wsccs.ca for more information, or contact anyone of us here today with name tags: Ana Policzer, Alan Le Fevre, Mats Thölin.  Please consider also coming forward as a volunteer to help move our Society forward.

Before I introduce our speaker, I’d like to recognize the Consul from Japan, Akira Uchida, and acknowledge the contributions of many volunteers and committee members today and over the years, who have made these annual events possible.  Time does not allow me to mention everyone by name, but I will mention Deborah Ross-Grayman and Henry Grayman (who could not be here today).  Deborah, as part of the Second Generation Group, helped organize several of the Raoul Wallenberg Day events in the past, and both participated in forming the Wallenberg-Sugihara Civil Courage Society 3 years ago, in adding an Award to the program, and in presenting our first Awards in Civil Courage.

I would also like to thank all the sponsors of today’s event which you’ll see listed on the back of the program.

Introduction to Dr. Joseph Copeland (Jan Nordin)

Dr Joseph Copeland, who has personal front line experience with MSF is our speaker today.  He will introduce the Nobel Peace Prize-winning organization Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders) and share his own experience.

Dr Copeland was born in Winnipeg but was primarily raised in California.

His undergraduate degree was a BA in International Relations with special focus on HIV/AIDS in the Developing World, which was followed by several years coordinating the Brown University AIDS program, and by training as an EMT/Paramedic, before heading west for Medical School at UCLA.

During Medical School in Los Angeles Dr Copeland also worked for the US Centers for Disease Control, which included a period with their TB/HIV program in Botswana.

Since returning to Canada for completion of specialty training, Dr Copeland has been practicing Pediatric Emergency Medicine at BC Children’s Hospital as well as caring for patients of all ages at the Richmond Hospital ER.  Dr Copeland is also a Clinical Assistant Professor at UBC.

Dr Copeland is a true Global Citizen with a passion for using his brain and his hands to help patients all over the world.  His 14 sessions in the US and Canadian Arctic and the MSF mission at the pediatric refugee site in Cameroon, which we, no doubt, will hear more about in a few minutes, bear witness to his admirable commitment to mankind.

Dr Copeland…

Médecins Sans Frontières Presentation
(Dr. Joseph Copeland)

Film Introduction (Alan Le Fevre)


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