May 3, 2015 12:42 pm
Updated: May 3, 2015 6:45 pm

Montrealers march to commemorate Armenian genocide

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WATCH ABOVE: Montreal politicians marched with an estimated 10,000 people to honour 1.5 million victims killed in the 1915 Armenian genocide. Global’s Billy Shields has more.

WESTMOUNT – A group of Montreal politicians marched with an estimated 10,000 people in honour of the 1.5 million victims killed in the 1915 Armenian genocide.

The march was a show of solidarity against all forms of genocide and crimes against humanity, organizers said.

The Montreal area is home to about 20,000 people of Armenian descent — almost half the Canadian total.

One of the Armenian-Canadians whose family came here following the genocide was Harout Chitilian, the vice president of Montreal’s executive committee.

“Not only have we found a home in Canada, but we actively participate in politics and the economy,” he said. “Canada has been great to us.”

Executive Committee Vice-President Harout Chitilian’s family headed to Montreal fleeing the Armenian genocide.

Billy Shields/Global News

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The mayors of Montreal and Laval, along with federal Liberal leader Justin Trudeau met at Westmount Park and walked to Place des Arts.

READ MORE: Armenians commemorate 1915 killings

“By recognizing the atrocities of the Armenian Genocide, we are reminded of the pain and suffering endured by those affected,” Trudeau wrote in a prepared release.

READ MORE: Armenia marks centennial of 1915 massacre

The demonstration started on St. Catherine street around 2:30 p.m.

It commemorated the 100 years since the beginning of what many historians call the Armenian genocide.

READ MORE: Amal Clooney on legal team in Armenian genocide case

On the eve of World War I in 1915, the government of the Ottoman Empire killed or expelled millions of Armenian immigrants.

The government feared Armenians residing in Turkey would side with Russia, the country’s enemy at the time.

READ MORE: Thousands on Parliament Hill for 100-year anniversary of the Armenian genocide

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has openly recognized the killings as genocide, but Turkey has steadfastly denied the use of that term.

WATCH: Quebec-Armenians remember

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