Forest of Hope in Markham
Newly planted trees now stand as a symbol of peace in Markham.
On Saturday, the city hosted a park dedication ceremony to mark 100 years since the Armenian genocide.
Federal, provincial and municipal government officials and members of the Armenian Genocide Centennial Committee for Canada waited in anticipation as the Forest of Hope was unveiled. The new Forest of Hope will be a place of peace and hope for the Armenian community across the GTA. “This small forest conveys an enormous message of new life,” said provincial minister of international trade, Michael Chan, during the official opening ceremony of the memorial. “These young trees will establish deep roots, grow tall and their branches will reach for the sky — just like the Armenian community.” More than one-and-a-half million Armenians were systematically massacred by the Ottoman Empire starting in early 1915. Canada is one of two dozen countries that recognize the events as the first genocide of the 20th century. “We know the meaning of genocide, its history and the importance of education,” said Armen Yeganian, ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of the Republic of Armenia to Canada. “We have to continue to educate, not just today, tomorrow or the first 100 years. But always, because unfortunately it still continues to happen.” Many argue the Armenian genocide set a precedent for other mass killings such as the Holocaust during the Second World War as well as events in Kosovo and Rwanda in the 1990s. The Forest of Hope is one of about a 100 projects to commemorate the genocide's anniversary across the country started by the Canadian arm of the Armenian Genocide Centennial Committee, which was founded four years ago. “And this is the best one, because it calls for hope and peace,” Yeganian said. The Forest of Hope is located in Ashton Meadows Park near Woodbine Avenue north of 16th Avenue. The park was designed by renowned landscape architect Haig Seferian and consists of 100 different trees, with different blooming time throughout the year. “Despite being displaced, the Armenian community is determined,” said mayor Frank Scarpitti. “The next generation of Armenians will be just as proud as the first Armenians who came to Canada. That’s a wonderful thing.” Earlier this week, the Armenian community celebrated the 25-year anniversary of Armenian independence.