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'A courageous peace activist': Son of Vivian Silver says she was murdered by Hamas on Oct. 7

The son of a Canadian peace activist has confirmed his mother's death, saying she was murdered by Hamas on Oct. 7.

Winnipeg-born Vivian Silver, 74, was believed to have been one of the 239 hostages from Israel taken by Hamas that day. One of her two sons, Yonatan Zeigen, told CTV News on Monday that Silver was killed by Hamas during the surprise attack.

Silver was living in Kibbutz Be’eri, on the edge of the Gaza Strip. She had left her home in Winnipeg more than 50 years ago to live in Israel and work on peace initiatives.

Hamas, which has been designated a terrorist group by the Canadian government, stormed Israel on Oct. 7 and commenced the deadliest attack the country has seen in decades, killing more than 1,200 people and taking upwards of 200 people hostage, according to Israeli officials.

Global Affairs Canada has previously confirmed the deaths of six Canadians in Israel, as well as one non-Canadian with “deep connections to Canada.”

Following the attack, the Israeli government declared war in a campaign to crush Hamas.

In the six weeks since, more than two-thirds of Gaza's population of 2.3 million have fled their homes.

Gaza's Hamas-run health ministry has pegged the Palestinian death toll beyond 11,000 people, two-thirds of them women and minors.

Zeigen has previously stated he does not believe violence is the right course of action and that his mother raised him to believe peace is the only way to solve the decades-long conflict in the Middle East.

“My basic belief is that the military actions don't solve anything," he told The Canadian Press in a story published Oct. 29.

"The attack on Oct. 7, it was vicious (and) really brutal. But it happened in a certain context of this region of years and years of dehumanizing people from both sides,” Zeigen added. 


As news of Silver’s death reached Canadians Monday evening, tributes were quick to pour in for Silver, who is being remembered for her efforts to promote peace between Palestinians and Israelis.

Heather McPherson, the NDP’s foreign affairs critic, was one of the first to post on X, formerly known as Twitter, saying she is “devastated” to learn about the activist’s murder.

“Vivian was a courageous peace activist with friends around the world. My heart breaks for her sons & all who knew her. The perpetrators must be brought to justice. May her memory be a blessing,” McPherson wrote.

Zeigen, who resides in Tel Aviv, said it was his mother’s mission to bring peace to the region.

After retiring as CEO of an organization that promoted peace between Israelis and Palestinians, Silver was involved in another organization of women with a similar goal, Zeigen told CTV National News’ Adrian Ghobrial last month, shortly after his mother was kidnapped.

“She was a beacon for peace and justice, an ally to the Palestinian people,” Zeigen said at the time.

At one point, Silver volunteered with a group that drove Palestinian patients from Gaza to Israeli hospitals for medical care, he said.

Women Wage Peace, the Israeli women’s peace movement that Silver helped found, also posted on X, saying, ”Our hearts are shattered.”

Melanie Joly, Canada’s minister of foreign affairs, shared on X that she had met with Silver’s son in Tel Aviv and called her “a proud Israeli-Canadian.”

“He described her as kind, generous, and selfless. Canada mourns her loss with him and her loved ones,” Joly said on X. 

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh also shared a few words on X, calling Silver a “unifier in times of war,” accompanied by a video with his Oct. 16 statement at the House of Commons paying tribute to the prominent peace activist.

Bob Rae, Canada’s ambassador to the UN, also paid tribute to Silver.

“May her memory be for a blessing, and her courage and conviction be an example for us all,” Rae wrote on X. “Let the killing and bombing be paused long enough for the hostages to be released.”

Manitoba Premier Wab Kinew, also shared his condolences Monday night on X. highlighting the former Winnipeg resident’s efforts to bring peace, especially during times of war.

“Her memory and her pursuit of peace is a bright light we will carry in our hearts during these dark times,” read his post.

Idit Shamir, the Israeli consul-general in Toronto, called news of Silver’s death “tragic.”

“Our hearts go out to her family and friends. May her memory be a blessing,” wrote Shamir.

With files from The Canadian Press and CTV National News' Adrian Ghobrial. Top Stories



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