Canadian effort will study, educate about Shoah
June 1, 2009
TORONTO (JTA) — Canada will contribute nearly $1 million to a three-year national effort to study and educate Canadians about the Holocaust.
The government will partner with B’nai Brith Canada to invest in the newly-formed National Task Force on Holocaust Research, Remembrance and Education.
The announcement came Monday from Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney, who addressed a two-day conference on lessons learned from the ill-fated voyage of the St. Louis.
The famous ship sailed from Hamburg in 1939 loaded with Jewish refugees from Hitler’s Europe. The ship was forced to return to Europe, and many of the passengers perished in the Holocaust. The conference, dubbed « The St. Louis Era: Looking Back, Moving Forward, » marks the 70th anniversary of Canada’s refusal to let the passengers disembark.
According to a statement from Kenney’s office, funding in the first year of the agreement will be directed toward the costs of the St. Louis conference itself and the initial launch of the task force, which will bring together scholars, legal experts and educators with Holocaust survivors and Jewish community members in an effort to share research and educational work being done in Canada.
During the second and third years of the agreement, the task force will conduct a more extensive study of the St. Louis incident. The effort will also develop and publish educational resources, including a teacher’s manual, a textbook designed for secondary school students and a DVD documentary, and provide training for educators who teach about the Holocaust.
The announcement comes on the heels of a poll released on the eve of the conference that shows a majority of Canadians — 54 percent — mistakenly believe that Canada offered a haven to Jews escaping the Holocaust.
The survey of 1,500 Canadians revealed that 21 percent of respondents correctly stated that the country did not welcome Jews, and 25 percent of respondents said they didn’t know whether Canada opened its doors to those fleeing the Holocaust.
Human-rights program teaches Canadian students details of Holocaust
Sheldon Alberts, Washington Correspondent, Canwest News Service
Published: Monday, May 11, 2009
WASHINGTON – After months spent studying the genocide of Jews during the Second World War, 14-year-old Eliza Kraus had grown familiar with all the painful details of the Holocaust. She learned about the brutality of the Nazis, the squalor of the Jewish ghettos, and Adolf Hitler’s « final solution. »
But when she finally visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum on Monday, and stepped inside a cattle car used to transport European Jews to Nazi concentration camps, the Calgary teenager was left speechless with emotion.
Kraus is among 250 teenagers in Washington this week completing a human-rights program that helps educate Canadian students about the history of the Holocaust and the dangers of racial intolerance and hatred.
The Asper Foundation Human Rights and Holocaust Studies Program has brought more than 7,000 students from 110 Canadian cities to the U.S. capital in recent years, and it’s a visit that can leave its participants both drained and motivated to speak out against modern-day human-rights abuses.
This year alone, more than 1,100 students have taken part in the program and, on several of the stops at the Holocaust museum, Louise Lawrence-Israels has been there to tell them her harrowing tale of survival.
The Holocaust Studies program was launched in 1997 by the late Israel Asper as a way to use history to teach Canadian students about tolerance. Asper founded Canwest Global Communications Inc., whose media holdings include Global Television and Canwest newspapers across Canada.
The program formed the starting point for the $100-million Canadian Museum of Human Rights, which began construction last month in Winnipeg and is slated for opening in 2012.
Canada launches panel to probe anti-Semitism June 3, 2009
The commission will begin by accepting written submissions of up to 2,000 words from any individual or group no later than July 31. This will be followed by hearings in the fall to gather testimony, culminating in a final report by the spring of 2010.