Canada and the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) is made up of government officials and experts from 35 countries. It is guided by the principles identified in the Stockholm Declaration. Its objectives include:

  • supporting Holocaust education, remembrance and research in member countries and around the world;
  • promoting the development of civil society through an annual grant programme; and
  • working in partnership with other international organizations to support these principles and objectives.

Canada contributes to and benefits from the IHRA’s work to combat antisemitism and to strengthen, advance, and promote Holocaust education, research and remembrance. In June 2022, Canada sent a delegation to Stockholm, Sweden to participate in the first in-person plenary meeting since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. While present, Canada announced that it will double its annual contribution to the IHRA.

The Head of the Canadian Delegation to the IHRA is Canada’s Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combatting Antisemitism.

Canada’s Country Report to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance

In January 2018, Canada submitted its first Country Report to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. It covers a six-year period, from 2011 to 2017, and contains information on general activities, including Holocaust education, remembrance, research, and Holocaust denial and its relation to antisemitism.

Chair of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance

Canada became a full member of IHRA in 2009. In May 2012, a domestic advisory council was established, co-chaired by Dr. Mario Silva and Senator Linda Frum, to provide support and advice on domestic initiatives for the duration of the Chair Year. From March 5, 2013 to February 25, 2014, Dr. Silva chaired IHRA on behalf of Canada.

Canada will continue to work closely with IHRA as an active member country to promote Holocaust awareness and further the global fight against antisemitism.

Chair Year initiatives

During 2013, when Canada chaired IHRA, a number of major initiatives were undertaken to promote Holocaust remembrance, research and education:

  • preservation of survivor testimonies;
  • a one-time Award for Excellence in Holocaust Education;
  • Canadian participation in an international poster competition; and
  • development of a research guide to Holocaust related holdings at Library and Archives Canada.

Survivor testimony

The Government of Canada provided support of approximately $800,000 for four organizations to preserve Holocaust survivors’ testimonials:

  • The Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre will support the preservation, access and use of Holocaust survivor testimonies in schools;
  • The Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre and the Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre will work, in partnership, to digitize existing footage of Holocaust survivors’ testimonies; and
  • A digital archive of Holocaust survivor testimonies from the March of the Living will be created by the Jewish Federations of Canada – United Israel Appeal of Canada. The March of the Living is an annual educational program, which brings students from around the world to explore the remnants of the Holocaust.

Award for Excellence in Holocaust Education

The Award for Excellence in Holocaust Education was a one-time award created to promote exemplary teaching methods and help teachers share innovative ideas within Canada’s education community.

Read more about the Award for Excellence in Holocaust Education and the winner of the award.

International poster competition

In conjunction with its IHRA Chair Year, Canadian students in Graphics or Art and Design programs were invited to participate in an international poster competition to promote Holocaust remembrance and commemoration.

Two Canadian students finished in first and second place. See their posters and other Canadian finalist posters for the international poster competition.

Holocaust-related holdings at Library and Archives Canada

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) developed a publicly accessible thematic guide that provides a list of Holocaust-related material in its holdings. The Research Guide to Holocaust-related Holdings at Library and Archives Canada provides an introduction to material from both archival and published sources that relate to a range of events and decisions before, during and after the Second World War. The guide includes both government and personal documents.

Chair meetings

As Chair, Canada hosted the first of two IHRA meetings at the Canadian Embassy in Berlin (June 11-14, 2013) with over 100 delegates from 31 member states, as well as IHRA Permanent Observers, observer countries and special guests from non-IHRA member states. During that meeting, key accomplishments included:

  • approval to fund a major international research project on Holocaust education;
  • discussion of initiatives to combat antisemitism; and
  • advancing IHRA’s multi-year work plan and future directions for the annual €500,000 IHRA grant program.

The second IHRA meeting was held in Toronto (October 6-10, 2013) with the participation of approximately 175 delegates, as well as international and Canadian special guests. The five days of meetings began with an academic conference at the University of Toronto from October 6 – 7, which was followed by working group meetings on a number of subjects including combatting antisemitism , Holocaust commemoration, and Holocaust education.

Several cultural events were held in conjunction with the meetings, including a concert to honour Holocaust survivor educators and a dinner to honour families who harboured Jews in Holland during the Second World War. The meetings concluded with a plenary session on October 10 where consensus was achieved on a number of key initiatives, including:

  • the adoption of an official definition of Holocaust denial to support ongoing efforts to combat antisemitism;
  • the acceptance of Uruguay as a new observer country to IHRA; and
  • the endorsement of Hungary as the IHRA Chair for 2015 and expressions of interest for Chairing in 2016 and 2017.

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