VANCOUVER, Dec.12 (Xinhua) -- Hundreds of people gathered in a gymnasium in Vancouver's Chinatown on Tuesday afternoon to remember the victims of the 1937 Nanjing Massacre.
The Canadian Alliance of Chinese Associations and the Chinese Association of Greater Vancouver jointly hosted the event, which took place at the Vancouver Chinese Cultural Centre.
Before the ceremony, visitors viewed photographs posted to the wall of the gym of atrocities committed by the Japanese aggressors against Chinese men, women and children.
The event marked the 80th anniversary of the day when Nanjing fell to Japanese aggressors, who went on a six-week-long slaughter of civilians and surrendered soldiers who had put down their arms.
About 300,000 Chinese were killed, and 20,000 women raped during the massacre.
China's newly instated Consul General to Vancouver Tong Xiaoling attended the event. She called the massacre one of the darkest days in human history.
"I feel so sad," she told Xinhua in an interview. "When I look at these pictures I feel so sorry for those ... men and woman who were slaughtered by the Japanese invaders."
Tong said the event also gives young people a chance to learn about history so that it would never be repeated. "It's why we... hold this memorial ceremony for the Nanjing Massacre, because we want more people to know about, to learn about the dark history in the past and to treasure the peace and the stability we have today."
About 450 overseas Chinese groups were set to hold similar memorials around the world to mark the anniversary of the massacre.
In 2014, China's top legislature designated Dec. 13 as a national memorial day for the victims of the Nanjing Massacre.
In October 2015, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) included Nanjing Massacre documents into its Memory of the World Register aimed at preserving significant and endangered documents.
Michael Lee, a lawmaker in British Colombia (B.C.), joined others to view the photos and he was one of several dignitaries who spoke at the memorial after laying flowers next to a memorial wreath.
Lee is running to become the new leader of the B.C. Liberal Party, which governed British Columbia for 16 years until it lost power in the 2017 election.
He said he would consider supporting the creation of a day here to commemorate the Nanjing Massacre.
The province of Ontario is in the process of finalizing a similar motion to designate Dec. 13 Nanjing Massacre Commemorative Day.
Lee said atrocities like the Nanjing Massacre continue to take place in unstable parts of the world today. "They do happen in other parts of our world of course...And with human understanding and human cooperation, these sorts of things should not be how we're treating each other."