75 years: Canada, Nuclear Weapons and the UN Ban Treaty

Hiroshima-Nagasaki Day 75th Anniversary Commemoration with Setsuko Thurlow & Friends
Thursday, August 6, 2020 at 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM EDT
by Hiroshima Nagasaki Day Coalition (Toronto)

On August 6th, 1945, 13-year old Setsuko Thurlow gathered with 30 classmates near the centre of Hiroshima, where she had been drafted into the student Mobilization Program. She recalls: “At 8:15 a.m., I saw a bluish-white flash like a magnesium flare outside the window. I remember the sensation of floating in the air. As I regained consciousness in the total silence and darkness, I realized I was pinned in the ruins of the collapsed building… Gradually I began to hear my classmates’ faint cries for help, ‘Mother, help me!’ ‘God, help me!’ Then suddenly, I felt hands touching me and loosening the timbers that pinned me. A man’s voice said, ‘Don’t give up! I’m trying to free you! Keep moving! See the light coming through that opening. Crawl toward it and try to get out!’”

TORONTO: On August 6th at 7pm the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Day Coalition invites the public to participate in the 75th Anniversary Commemoration of the Atomic bombings of Japan. The commemoration will focus on 75 years of living with the threat of nuclear war. The 75th commemoration will also focus on the role that Canada played in the Manhattan project. The keynote speaker will be A-bomb survivor Setsuko Nakamura Thurlow, who jointly accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on of the behalf the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) with Beatrice Fihn in 2017. Peace activist and historian Phyllis Creighton will sketch Canada’s role in creating the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, its nuclear industry’s reckless endangering of Dene workers, severely impacting the Indigenous community, Canada’s continued sale of uranium and nuclear reactors enabling more countries to become nuclear armed, and its full commitment to NORAD and NATO, both nuclear alliances relying on nuclear weapons. The event will include music by Grammy-nominated flautist Ron Korb and photos, animation and brief excerpts from documentaries that will show major highlights of the 75-yearlong effort to abolish nuclear weapons. Giving us hope for their eventual elimination is the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, now with 39 of the 50 nations needed to sign and ratify it before coming into international law. Thus far, Canada is not a signatory. The co-hosts for the commemoration are Katy McCormick, artist and professor, and Steven Staples, the founder of Public Response.

Registration for the online event can be found here. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/75-years-canada-nuclear-weapons-the-un-ban-treaty-tickets-108760389252#listing-organizer

Little known to many Canadians, Prime Minister Mackenzie King entered into a partnership with the US and Great Britain in the Manhattan Project’s development of the atomic bombs, including mining, refining, and exporting the uranium necessary for their success. Here in Canada, Dene workers from Great Bear Lake were hired to transport the radioactive uranium in cloth sacks from the mine to barges. They were never warned about radioactivity. Peter Blow’s documentary Village of Widows chronicles how the atomic bomb program impacted that Indigenous community. At the bottom of Great Bear Lake is over a million tons of tailings that will remain radioactive for the next 800,000 years.

On August 6th, Little Boy—a single Atomic bomb—demolished the city of Hiroshima, killing 70,000 people, and causing the deaths of 70,000 more by the end of 1945. On August 9th, 1945,Fat Man, a plutonium bomb, devastated Nagasaki, exploding near the largest Catholic cathedral in Asia, killing 70,000 non-combatants. Setting a pattern, US Occupation censorship hid the true impacts of nuclear weapons—still unknown to many today.

Media Contact: Katy McCormick kmccormi@ryerson.ca



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