True North Strong and Free: David Shentow

Imagine spending time in a concentration camp and then starting a new life in Canada. David Shentow, Holocaust survivor, describes what being Canadian means to him.

Learn more about celebrating being Canadian and Citizenship Week, when we reflect on the value and meaning of citizenship.

True North Strong and Free: David Shentow

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Transcript: “True North Strong and Free: David Shentow”

Video length: 2:11 minutes

(Montage of words representing Canada)

(Title appears: Our Citizenship)

(Title appears: David Shentow on what it means to be Canadian)

(Title appears: DAVID SHENTOW (Holocaust survivor))

(closeup of David, who is seated while talking)

Well, of course, surviving the Holocaust is a story all by itself. So of course I’ve gone through hell and coming back to Belgium after the war, and finding out that I’m the only one from my whole family that survived.

(old black and white photograph of David’s uncle fades in and out beside David)

My parents, my two sisters, uncles, aunts, cousin, from 17 I’m the only one who survived. So although Belgium was very good to me, but every stone, every house reminded me of my life before the war. So it was not easy after the war to live in Belgium and it brought back very, very painful memories until my uncle found out that I’m the only one who survived. And if it wouldn’t have been for him, I would not have come to Canada. And when I did finally come to this country, it’s not so much being proud.

(old black and white photograph of a younger David fades in and out beside him)

Everybody says being proud. It’s, it’s a lot more than that. It’s, it’s a feeling deep in your heart that I finally came to a place where I’m accepted, not only accepted, appreciated and then it was all the way up, golden opportunities. You made a nice living, could afford to buy a house, and we never looked back.

(old black and white photograph of David and his wife fades in and out beside him)

And of course I went back to Belgium with my wife quite often, visiting. And it was always a breath of relief to come back to Canada although Belgium is not a bad country. But Canada is definitely the country of golden opportunities, paradise. Even today, I still feel Canada is paradise.

(Citizenship and Immigration Canada wordmark appears)

(Government of Canada wordmark appears)


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