Of the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust, thousands were connected to Winnipeggers.
Some of their names were read aloud Monday for a Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Memorial Day) ceremony at the Manitoba legislature.
Belle Jarniewski, chairwoman of the Freeman Family Holocaust Education Centre, was one of more than 50 readers. She read the names of her grandparents, uncles, aunts and half-brother -- all killed in the Holocaust.
'Every life that was lost was a life that was cherished, and we have six million of those lives that were cherished by their families'
"Today is a very difficult day of remembering so many names of family members that I never got a chance to know, that I miss every day of my life," said Jarniewski with tears in her eyes.
Her father was the only survivor in his family. He was taken away from his pregnant wife and never got to meet his son, who was put to death in a gas chamber.
"Every life that was lost was a life that was cherished, and we have six million of those lives that were cherished by their families," said Jarniewski, who documented the experiences of more than 70 Canadian survivors in her book Voices of Winnipeg Holocaust Survivors.
"I think sadness is the overwhelming emotion here today."
Jeff Lieberman, program chairman of the event, recited a stanza from the poem Unto Every Person There is a Name before he introduced the next group of readers to the podium.
"Unto every person there is a name bestowed upon him by God and given him by his father and mother," he said about a dozen times throughout the two-hour ceremony.
Lieberman lost his grandparents, seven uncles and one aunt to the Holocaust.
"They missed out on lots of opportunities, so it's our chance to remember them," he said.
"If they would have continued to live, then they would have had big families and there would be that many more Jews around the world, but it's nice that we're able to remember them here today."
Lieberman described the mood as "sombre" and "reflective," even for those who aren't Jewish but who went to the event to support human rights.
"For them, it's a feeling of being able to participate and be a part of good mankind instead of the horrible things and the atrocities that happened during the Second World War."
Lieberman said about 300 people were at the ceremony.
Many also gathered at the Holocaust monument on the grounds of the legislature Monday at noon to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day.
Holocaust Awareness Week runs until May 1.