Waterloo Record, Canada
April 20 2015

Waterloo Region Record
By Anam Latif

CAMBRIDGE -- Levon Sarmazian may be young, but there is one story
his family always tells.

"There were 78 people in my family, with my last name, in Armenia,"
Sarmazian said.

"After 1915, there were only 18 of us left."

Sarmazian, along with about 150 other local members of the Armenian
community, gathered at the Armenian Community Centre in Cambridge
Sunday to commemorate the coming centenary of the Armenian genocide.

Friday will mark the event that claimed 1.5 million lives at the turn
of the century.

What is described as the darkest moment in Armenian history has tied
together one of the largest diasporas in the world.

Many historians estimate 1.5 million Armenians were killed by the
Ottoman Empire during the First World War. The Turkish government
denies the genocide, claiming the deaths were a consequence of war
and unrest and not systematic ethnic cleansing.

Only a handful of survivors are still alive, but Vahe Poladian said
he thinks every single living Armenian is a survivor.

"Because we are still here, Turkey failed," he said.

They gather every year with only one demand: recognition from their

Last week, Pope Francis took a bold stand and condemned the Armenian
genocide, an action which drew ire from Turkish officials.

Poladian was relieved when he heard the news. "It's a step in the
right direction," he said.

Those who survived the genocide were forced to leave their homeland and
marched across the Syrian Desert where many more died of starvation.

Most of the Armenian diaspora settled in Lebanon and Syria. But
they take pride in preserving their culture, language, food, values,
religion and way of life.

After a wreath was placed at the memorial outside the community centre,
there was a ceremony inside where poetry and speeches were recited. In
the backdrop a large purple forget-me-not was displayed as the chosen
symbol for the 100th anniversary.

It represents the past, present and future of Armenia and almost
every person in the room wore a purple forget-me-not pin or sticker.

"We will not forget," Poladian said.