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'We stand united with you': Manitoba adopts working definition of antisemitism from IHRA

Manitoba has become the latest province in Canada to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism.

During a ceremony at the Manitoba Legislative Building on Thursday, Premier Heather Stefanson announced the province would be endorsing and adopting the IHRA's working definition.

"Racial, ethnic and religious hatred in all forms have no place in our society," Stefanson said, adding the increase in antisemitic incidents around the world and in Canada is deeply concerning.

"I want the Jewish community to know we stand united with you."

The IHRA crafted the working definition in 2016, saying, “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

Stefanson said Thursday the definition is grounded in the research of the world's experts on antisemitism and the Holocaust.

"The first step in combatting antisemitism is defining it in all of its forms, both traditional and contemporary. Antisemitism, like a virus, has evolved over many centuries and has taken innumerable forms," said Gustavo Zentner, the president of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg.

It's a move made by the United Nations, and 30 countries including the United States and Canada. Within Canada, several other provinces have also adopted the working definition.

The Government of Alberta announced in September it would stand behind the definition, including an official endorsement through an order in council.

READ MORE: ‘We stand with them’: Alberta adopts IHRA working definition of anti-Semitism

Since 2016, it has been adopted or endorsed by the federal government, along with the provinces of New Brunswick, Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec.

Manitoba's move to adopt the definition was praised by advocacy groups who have been calling for this in the province.

Ruth Ashrafi, B’nai Brith Canada’s Regional Director in Manitoba said the group is thrilled.

"We offer our expertise to aid the province in implementing the definition through the whole of government so that civil servants and law enforcement can better recognize and combat antisemitism," Ashrafi said in a news release. "Today is just a beginning. The real work starts tomorrow."

The Jewish Federation of Winnipeg applauded the decision, saying it is a clear affirmation of the provincial government's recognition of a surge in hate against Jews and the need to counter it.

"Defining antisemitism is the first step in recognizing its manifestations, which is key to standing against it," Shimon Koffler Fogel, president and CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, said in a news release.

"Canadians cannot stand by and allow Jew-hatred to spread unchecked. This is especially important because history has repeatedly demonstrated that what begins with the Jews never ends with the Jews. This is a victory for all who stand against hate – no matter what group is the immediate target.”

-with files from CTV News' Damien Wood Top Stories

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