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'Walked the talk': Canadian peace activist killed in Hamas attack remembered

The close friend of a Canadian peace activist who was killed during Hamas’s October 7 attacks on Israel is being remembered as someone who “walked the talk."

Winnipeg-born Vivian Silver, 74, was initially believed to have been one of the 239 hostages kidnapped by Hamas on Oct. 7.

But on Monday one of her two sons, Yonatan Zeigen, confirmed to CTV News that Silver’s remains had been located.

Prior to her death at the hands of Hamas, which the Canadian government has designated as a terrorist organization, Silver had been living in Kibbutz Be’eri on the edge of the Gaza Strip.

“We went into the vortex of hope that she might have been abducted, that there was still hope that she was alive,” Lynne Mitchell, who has known Silver for over 60 years, told CP24 on Tuesday. “And then of course that came crashing down yesterday.”

"It took 37 days for her remains to be identified."

Silver left Canada more than 50 years ago to live in Israel while working on peace initiatives.

Silver volunteered for groups that strive for peace with Palestinians and that help Gaza residents access medical care, working with a group that drove patients from Gaza to Israeli hospitals.

“Vivian, at her core, was a person who believed in non-violence and she believed that peace was the answer,” Mitchell said.

“She knew how to connect with people. She knew how to listen to people. She knew how to understand situations, and she knew how to listen to different points of view. And that was what made her a wonderful friend to me.”

Pictured is Canadian Vivian Silver who was allegedly taken hostage by Hamas militants during Saturday's attacks in Israel. (Contributed)

Mitchell said the two women grew up together in Winnipeg and shared their most intimate moments.

She noted that Silver always had a passionate voice for humanitarian causes.

“She walked her work, she walked the talk, as they say,” Mitchell added.

“That was a way that she lived her life. To try and make her community, her life, her children's life … safe by doing those kinds of things, by being inclusive, by trying to share a vision of how people could live together.”

News of Silver’s death has rocked the country, with multiple tributes posted to social media from both current and former politicians, who noted her generosity and selflessness.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh called her a “unifier in times of war” while Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly called her a “proud Israeli-Canadian” and shared that she had met Silver’s son while in Tel Aviv.

John Lyndon of the Alliance for Middle East Peace, a coalition of NGOs in which Silver was active, said that her legacy is that she never gave up.

"I think if Vivian were here she would say to us, there will be a ceasefire at some point, we are going to have to rebuild and try to make sure this never ever happens again and that the future is going to be based on Israeli- Palestinian partnership and solidarity and self determination and equality—all the things that she lived her life believing and died believing, I’m certain of it."

More than 1,200 people were killed in Hamas’s initial assault on Israel and hundreds were taken hostage.

In response, Israel has pounded the Gaza strip with airstrikes and Hamas has continued to fire rockets.

The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry says that the air strikes have killed more than 10,000 people.

With files from Sissi De Flaviis and Tom Yun

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