Canada’s 2017 Country Report to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)
Covering the period 2011 to 2017
The Holocaust was a unique and unprecedented tragedy in human history. The systematic, deliberate and planned attempt by Nazi Germany and its collaborators to murder all Jews will forever be a scar on the history of humanity. Canada has a responsibility to remember the Holocaust. Canada has a duty, not only to survivors and their descendants, but to all its citizens to remember the Holocaust and to draw lessons from this horrific chapter in human history to create a more just, equitable and inclusive future for all people. We will continue to work with provinces and territories, community groups, religious institutions, civil society, academics, museums and researchers to commemorate the Holocaust. We will work with key partners and stakeholders to support research and education in a manner that strengthens memory and recommits all Canadians to human rights and freedoms.
Canada remains committed to the principles of the Stockholm Declaration and will continue to work in close partnership with IHRA member countries to advance their objectives. Canada continues to learn from the Holocaust, not only in relation to the mass murder and gross violations of human rights in Europe, but from its own actions and inactions at home.
Canada’s membership in IHRA has raised the profile of Holocaust remembrance and signalled that the Holocaust is important for all Canadians. Our membership complements our strong stance nationally and internationally against racism, discrimination and hatred of all forms, including antisemitism.
As Canada marks the 150th anniversary of Confederation we are exploring some fundamental questions about how we have carried ourselves as a nation. In seeking to reconcile our past, particularly with Indigenous peoples, we look to the future. Canada’s actions during the Second World War, whether the denial of entry of Jewish refugees from Europe or the internment of Japanese Canadians and even Jewish citizens of Axis ancestry is something we need to acknowledge, remember and learn from.
The importance of Canada’s membership in IHRA is further underscored by the fact that Canada has the fourth largest Jewish population in the world, and one of the largest populations of Holocaust survivors.
There is no doubt, that in Canada, Holocaust education, research and remembrance has had a positive influence, helping to create our contemporary concern with fighting racism and promoting human rights and has contributed to our desire to reconcile historic racism and contemporary problems of our country.
Historical and contemporary actions
As a country, Canada has taken a number of steps to reconcile actions in the past that are inconsistent with the values we hold today. Through the Community Historical Recognition Program, a five-year initiative of the Government of Canada which finished in 2013, significant efforts were made to acknowledge and educate all Canadians about the historical experiences of communities affected by wartime discriminatory measures and immigration restrictions applied in Canada. Under this program, $2.5 million was made available to organizations representing constituents of the Jewish community for projects to raise awareness about the refusal of Canada to offer refuge to the passengers of the MS St. Louis, who were seeking to escape Europe, and the internment of nearly 2,300 men, mostly Jewish refugees from Austria and Germany, as “enemy aliens” in camps across Canada. The legacy of the program is a lasting awareness of the communities’ experience through testimonies, documentaries and memorials. While education in Canada is a strictly provincial/territorial matter, the teaching materials and educational products developed with federal funding through the Community Historical Recognition Program have contributed to the body of educational resources available to teachers, and in some respects, has moved Canada a step forward in establishing common Holocaust education themes and approaches across the country. More information on the Program can be found in Annex A.
The refugee crisis the world is currently experiencing has led Canada to reflect on the many uncomfortable historical linkages with the closed doors that Jews experienced when fleeing the Holocaust, particularly Canada’s refusal of the MS St. Louis. Our refugee laws have evolved since then, due in part to lessons learnt from our history of refusal of refugees before and during the Holocaust. It was the experience of the Holocaust that led the Jewish community in Winnipeg to spearhead efforts to resettle Yazidi refugees, a people who had seemingly been forgotten as they underwent genocide. The lessons that Canada learned from the Holocaust has also been cited as a reason for opening our doors to Syrian refugees and the success of our Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program.
Residential School System
Canada is also struggling to heal the wounds inflicted by the residential school system, a system of government-sponsored religious schools established to assimilate Indigenous children into Euro-Canadian culture that began in the 1870s and ended in 1996, when the last federally-run school closed.
One component of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement was the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, released in 2015, made a central assertion that what happened in the residential school system was “cultural genocide”.Footnote 1
The issue of cultural genocide is a complex one on which there is limited shared understanding. In Canada the concept is primarily being explored by historians of Colonial Studies under the rubric of colonialism, and more recently the issue has begun to be examined by scholars in the field of genocide. Many questions still need to be addressed including: in what ways do the goals of the residential school system fit, or not fit, the idea of genocide; what value is there in conjoining the ‘cultural’ qualifier to the concept of genocide; and how can we work with cultural genocide in comparison to other forms of genocide particularly the Holocaust.
While caution must be taken in drawing comparisons or equating other genocides with the Holocaust, there are parallels that can be drawn between the atrocities of the Holocaust and the Indigenous experience. A number of projects to explore the intersection with the Holocaust have been undertaken, focussing for the most part on the lens of “shared pain” and “shared experiences of rebuilding after trauma”. In 2012, during Holocaust Education Week, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs co-presented Compelled to Remember, which explored parallels and difference between the legacies of the Holocaust and Residential Schools focussing on the need of injured communities to remember and to speak. In 2016, during Holocaust Education Week, the Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre in partnership with the Azrieli Foundation presented The Power of Memoir and Storytelling: How do we Teach Others about the Pain of the Past?. This program explored two distinct narratives, the post-Holocaust period and the Residential Schools, examining loss, trauma, and the use of memoir in the journey toward healing. The Montreal Holocaust Museum has also partnered on exhibits, panels and discussion, as well as video testimony, with the Legacy of Hope Foundation, Femmes Autochtones du Québec, and Wakiponi Mobile.
The University of Manitoba, in partnership with the Freeman Family Foundation Holocaust Education Centre, with some funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, held an academic conference bringing together Canadian Holocaust scholars and Indigenous scholars on the topic of cultural genocide. It was entitled Cultural Genocide in Comparative Perspective: Indigenous Studies and the Holocaust. Some of the presentors included, among others: David MacDonald, University of Guelph, Cultural Genocide and Knowledge Destruction in Oral and Written Cultures: Sketching a Comparative Research Agenda; Valerie Hébert, Lakehead University, Destruction Before Murder: Jews under Nazi Power in Europe; Doris Bergen, University of Toronto, Saving Churches, Killing Jews: German Accusations of Soviet Destruction of Christianity in 1941; Erica Lehrer, Concordia University, Decolonizing Eastern European Jewish Culture? Redressing Cultural Genocide in Polish Ethnographic Museums; Dorota Glowacka, University of King’s College, Never Forget: Indigenous Memory of the Genocide and the Holocaust.
Canada has demonstrated strong and consistent support, both financial and political, to Holocaust research, education, and remembrance.
Internationally, Canada supported the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation through a $400,000 grant in 2012 to assist with the preservation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Site in Poland. Canada’s support for the Memorial Site will help with the conservation of the building, grounds, and the thousands of historical objects that are endangered by erosion and deterioration.
Also on the international front, Canada expanded its commitment to human rights, including freedom of religion or belief, by creating the Office of Human Rights, Freedoms and Inclusion in 2016, within the Department of Global Affairs Canada. The Office works closely with Global Affairs Canada’s Peace and Stabilization Operations Program to deliver programming. In 2016, a $600,000 grant to UNESCO was announced for a joint-programme with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to promote education about the Holocaust and other genocides worldwide. This contribution built upon a prior grant of $100,000 to UNESCO’s Holocaust education program.
Domestically, one of the biggest achievements for Canada during this reporting period was the successful chairmanship of IHRA in 2013 and the resulting stimulation of financial support from the federal government for Holocaust education and remembrance initiatives, including funding for the preservation of Holocaust survivor testimony and educational projects.
The ability to educate through first person Holocaust testimonies has become an increasingly rare experience. Holocaust educators across Canada have been thinking and planning for the transition into a world of Holocaust memory and education without these first-hand accounts.
The projects for the preservation of survivor testimony undertaken by the Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre, the Montreal Holocaust Museum, the March of the Living and the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre, with partial funding from the Government of Canada and the Azrieli Foundation, resulted in the digitization of, and online access to, thousands of oral histories. This, in conjunction with the supporting pedagogical materials that were developed, represents an important contribution and component for the future of Holocaust education and remembrance. The Canadian Museum for Human Rights and the Freeman Family Foundation Holocaust Education Center partnered to record survivor testimony and preserve it in their archives. The Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies has also worked to preserve and make available survivor testimony through its new website (www.neverforgetme.ca) that was launched in 2016. The Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, established in 2011, also has a publicly available oral collection of immigrant stories and histories from Holocaust survivors on their website.
Funding for the preservation of testimony has moved Canada forward significantly in assuring the legacy of survivors who painfully recorded their stories, in developing of alternatives to in-person survivor testimony, and in accessing Holocaust history and human stories across the country.
Another significant achievement was the passage of the National Holocaust Monument Act in 2011. Under the authority of the Act, a National Monument was constructed in Canada’s capital and inaugurated on September 27, 2017. It will serve as a reminder to future generations to keep the lessons of history alive in our nation’s consciousness. Until now, Canada was the only major Allied country without a National Holocaust Monument.
Currently pending consideration by the House of Commons, having already passed through the Senate, is Bill S-232, which seeks to establish May as Jewish Heritage Month in recognition of the “important contributions that Jewish Canadians have made to Canada’s social, economic, political and cultural fabric”. The Month will provide an opportunity to remember, celebrate and educate future generations about those contributions, as well as contribute to greater acceptance and inclusion. The Province of Ontario, which has the largest Jewish population in Canada, passed a similar Bill in 2012.
While Canada has many achievements to report, there also remain challenges to address. One such challenge is to develop and implement our strategic objectives relating to Canada’s IHRA membership and the Stockholm Declaration in alignment with IHRA’s forthcoming strategic plan.
Also demanding attention is ensuring that channels of communication concerning Canada’s participation in IHRA are strengthened to ensure information is shared at all levels – diplomatic, expert and civil society.
Enhanced discussion and exchange amongst Canadian delegates in preparation for IHRA meetings could support Canada’s ability to convey to IHRA its approach to Holocaust education, remembrance and research. Canada’s head of delegation, Artur Wilczynski, recently carried out across Canada consultations to discuss ways of bringer greater visibility to Canada’s membership in IHRA and to communicate and receive feedback on Canada’s approach to engagement on IHRA going forward. He has also improved dialogue and information sharing by instituting teleconferences with delegates, other experts and civil society stakeholders in advance of, and following, each IHRA meeting.
In regard to the Canadian delegation, Canada implemented in 2014 a reduction in the subsidization of travel for its expert delegation. Currently, Canada has put in place a system that partially subsidizes the participation of up to two Canadian expert delegates, who are chairing working groups or committees in line with the troika system, and subsidizes in full the participation of a youth delegate, with relevant subject matter expertise, in keeping with the Government’s emphasis on youth engagement. While some delegates expressed concerns regarding this shift, indicating that it may limit the ability of smaller organizations to participate in meetings, it is in alignment with a number of other countries who do not pay travel expenses for the members of their delegations.
In Canada, significant research and study of the Holocaust began in the 1970s. At that time, many academics began incorporating research on the Holocaust into a variety of fields of study at educational institutions. The publication in 1982 of None is Too Many, by Harold Troper and Irving Abella, is considered by many as a pivotal moment in raising awareness of our own history.
Scholarship and areas of study
Canada has a number of exceptional researchers and scholars in the field of Holocaust Studies, as well as a number of universities with Chairs in Holocaust or Genocide studies. Canadian academic centres and chairs include Carleton University’s Max and Tessie Zelikovitz Centre for Jewish Studies, McMaster University’s Resistance Collection, Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies, St. Thomas University’s Holocaust Centre, University of Western Ontario’s Holocaust Literature Research Institute, and the University of Toronto’s Chancellor Rose and Ray Wolfe Chair in Holocaust Studies which is currently held by Professor Doris Bergen, while Professor Michael R. Marrus is Emeritus. Other eminent Canadian scholars include, among others: Jan Grabowski, University of Ottawa, a co-founder of the Polish Centre for Holocaust research at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences (Warsaw); John-Paul Himka, University of Alberta, who has written extensively on Jews and the Holocaust in Ukraine; Sara Horowitz, York University, who’s research has focussed on antisemitism, testimony, narratives and trauma related to the Holocaust, particularly from the perspective of female survivors and victims’; Dorota Glowacka, University of King’s College, who has a special interest in Polish Jewish relations after the Holocaust and received a 2016-2017 visiting fellowship at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust studies at the United States Holocaust Museum for her work on the intersections of the memories and legacies of the Holocaust and the settler colonial genocide of Indigenous people in Canada; and Richard Menkis, University of British Columbia, the founding editor of the journal Canadian Jewish Studies.
The areas of research have been wide ranging and include topics at the intersection between the Holocaust and Canadian history, including examining the enveloping antisemitism in Canada leading up to and during that period, discriminatory immigration policies and practices, the internment of European Jewish refugees who had been sent to Canada from Britain, and exploration of how these events have helped shape the Canada of today. As noted above, recently there has been an interest in examining the history of the residential school system in relation to the Holocaust, specifically related to the concept of cultural genocide. Beyond the intersection with our own history, Canadian scholarship has been diverse examining arts and culture, law and justice, memory and identity, gender narratives, the role of religion, and many other areas. Considerable research on the Holocaust has been funded by the Government of Canada through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Examples of current research are included at Annex B.
Scholarships are also supported at the community level. The Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center in conjunction with the Zaglembier Society, a group of Holocaust Survivors and their children from the province of Zaglembie, Poland, annually award two post-graduate scholarships of $1,800.
The number of programs or professorships in Canada has remained relatively unchanged. Most programs of study that involve the Holocaust, for example German studies or Jewish Studies, make efforts to partner with the local Holocaust education providers in their area. One such example is the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre’s partnership with the University of Victoria’s iWitness Field School as well as with the University of British Columbia’s Witnessing Auschwitz program, offering learning, volunteer, and internship opportunities for students.
Canadian Holocaust education centres are also working closely with researchers and academics to ensure that the Holocaust educational resources they use in their centres and in schools are informed by the latest historical research.
In this regard the Government has supported a number of research conferences including its 2013 co-sponsorship of an international conference Holocaust: New Scholars-New Research, with the University of Toronto’s Chancellor Rose and Ray Wolfe Chair in Holocaust Studies. At the conference, specialists in Holocaust research from around the world introduced new thinking and explored new approaches to the Holocaust.
Also in 2013, the government supported a conference at Carleton University, If Not Now, When? Responsibility and Memory after the Holocaust. It brought together parliamentarians, survivors, scholars and community leaders to remember and reflect critically on the painful lessons of the Holocaust. The conference generated further public discourse on the importance of Holocaust education and the preservation of Holocaust memory.
The Government is actively engaging with communities and experts on research projects. For example, when the Canadian Museum for Human Rights acquired a Holocaust artifact in late 2016, a wallet made from a desecrated Torah scroll, local rabbis and the Freeman Family Foundation Holocaust Education Centre were crucial contributors in the research process that uncovered the background of the artifact. Jeremy Maron, Canadian Museum for Human Rights, presented a paper on this research at the symposium Cultural Genocide in Comparative Perspective: Indigenous Studies and the Holocaust which was organized by the Freeman Family Foundation Holocaust Education Centre in partnership with the University of Manitoba, and partially funded by the Government of Canada.
Also under the rubric of community engagement in research was the partnership between the Freeman Family Foundation Holocaust Education Centre, the University of Manitoba and the German Government that resulted in the multimedia exhibition and lecture series Synagogues in Germany: A Virtual Reconstruction being brought to Canada. The exhibit recreates 25 of the more than 1000 synagogues destroyed on Kristallnacht. Along with associated placards, photographs, text panels, books, and three documentary films, these reconstructions speak to the nature and significance of cultural loss as an instrument of genocide. Financial assistance was provided by the German Government, the Freeman Family Foundation Holocaust Education Centre, the University of Manitoba, the Government of Canada, the Mennonite Heritage Centre Gallery, Kuehne + Nagel, and Hapag-Lloyd AG.
Research archival access to Holocaust-related holdings, held by the Government of Canada, has been greatly improved by government funding for the publication of a new research guide by Library and Archives Canada. In keeping with the example set by institutions such as the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre and the Montreal Holocaust Museum, the guide includes holdings related to a broad range of events and decisions before, during and after the Second World War.
However, obstacles still exist for accessing other public and private archived materials. Many have not digitized their Holocaust-related collections or produced online search catalogues. Some locations have limited, or no, hours for on-site research. Some of the barriers to access could be eliminated through financial and professional assistance to catalogue and digitize these collections. Much of the support for improving access to private archived materials has come from non-government sources such as the Azrieli Foundation or international research institutes.
Funding initiatives such as Library and Archives Canada Documentary Communities Heritage Program, launched in 2016, have supported archival research in the field. The program ensures that “Canada’s continuing memory is documented and accessible to current and future generations by adopting a more collaborative approach with local documentary heritage communities.” The Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre has received funding over two granting cycles for the development of a digital preservation plan and for an archival processing and access project. This has significantly advanced access to its holdings related to pre-war Jewish life in Europe, the Holocaust, and survivor post-war settlement in Canada.
Restitution of property
Research efforts have also taken place in relation to Jewish property and restitution. In Canada, the issue of displaced cultural property primarily affects those art museums and private collectors that acquired European fine and decorative art of unknown provenance from the period of 1933-1945.
Canada’s heritage institutions have contributed to the establishment of the Artefacts Canada database, an online resource hosted by the Government of Canada’s Canadian Heritage Information Network. The database contains five million object records and one million images from Canadian museums. This important source of information is made available to museum professionals and the public, and can assist Holocaust victims and their descendants in locating and recovering their lost property.
In 2013, as part of its ongoing commitment to Holocaust remembrance and restitution issues, the Government of Canada provided funding support to Concordia University’s conference Plundered Cultures, Stolen Heritage which focussed on the targeting of culture during mass atrocities.
In 2014, the Government of Canada funded a $190,000 initiative by the Canadian Art Museum Directors Organization for both provenance research and the development of guidelines that small and medium-sized museums can use for Holocaust-era research on their own holdings. The resulting best practices guide is expected to be made available online in 2017.
Extensive research has been undertaken by the Max Stern Art Restitution Project, headed by Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec. It is dedicated to locating artworks lost by Dr. Max Stern during the Second World War. The efforts of the Max Stern Art Restitution Project has resulted in the restoration of seven pieces of art in the last five years.
Restitution research has resulted in the return of a number of artworks that were held in Canadian collections. In 2013, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts returned a painting by 17th century Dutch artist Gerrit van Honthorst to the heir of Jewish collector Bruno Spiro. In 2014, the Art Gallery of Hamilton restored the painting Portrait of a Lady, by Dutch 17th-century artist Johannes Verspronck, to the heir of Alma Bertha Salomonsohn.
Our diverse population, geography, and federal system of government present unique challenges for Holocaust education. We are a multicultural society with a cultural, ethnic and linguistic makeup that distinguishes Canada from most other countries. Our population is comprised of more than 200 ethnic origins and languages with 1 in 5 residents born outside the country.
Canadian multiculturalism policy, acknowledges the freedom of all members of society to preserve, enhance and share their cultural heritage, this has created an environment that is receptive to Holocaust education, not only as an historic event, but as a means of combating discrimination and promoting respect for cultural diversity.
At the same time, our diversity challenges us to make the Holocaust relevant to new Canadians who may have originated from countries whose histories were not significantly touched by the Holocaust (China, India, the Philippines), have histories of Holocaust denial (Iran and Arab states), or have experienced an act of genocide in their country of origin (Rwanda, Armenia, Ukraine). Increasingly, this is moving Holocaust education toward the incorporation of a comparative framework, the use of a human rights lens, and its integration into diversity, and tolerance programs.
Our federal system of government and geography also present challenges. In Canada, education falls under provincial and territorial jurisdiction not federal, therefore, there is no national education system, and the two levels of government have not engaged in any substantial dialogue on Holocaust education. While there are a great many similarities in the provincial and territorial education systems the differences in geography, languages, history and cultures across Canada impact the approach taken to teaching about the Holocaust.
Teacher education also falls under the responsibility of the provinces and territories, with the federal government having no jurisdictional power to initiate any teacher training program that would be pan-Canadian in scope. Within teacher training programs there is no required formal training given to teachers concerning the Holocaust. This has resulted in non-governmental organizations and Jewish community organizations stepping forward to fill this gap, taking leadership roles in advancing Holocaust education and teacher training. While these courses have significantly impacted the capacity of educators to teach about the Holocaust, there is no formal accreditation of these courses at the provincial or federal level.
These non-governmental organizations have made great strides in working with teachers and community leaders. The Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre in Toronto is working in collaboration with the Ontario Teachers Federation to offer a Holocaust Educators Study Tour, and collaborating internationally by hosting an intern from the Austrian Holocaust Memorial Service. The Centre’s annual Holocaust Education Week is the most comprehensive public educational forum of its kind in the world. An estimated 35,000 members of the general public from across the Greater Toronto Area participate in Holocaust Education Week programs.
The Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center has implemented a Holocaust educational program focused on leaders and influential Canadians. Participants have included police chiefs, mayors, provincial and federal parliamentarians and thought leaders. In addition they have implemented a law enforcement training program Lessons in Humanity, in recognition of the role law enforcement played in the Holocaust, and their continued role related to prevailing issues such as antisemitism and hate crimes. The Friends of Simon Wiesenthal also provide certification in Holocaust education through their teacher training program.
The Montreal Holocaust Museum, which plays a unique role in reaching out to francophone communities in Canada and around the world, produced a new pedagogical tool in 2015 for teachers: A Brief History of Antisemitism in Canada. It provides teachers with information for learning and teaching about the components of historical antisemitism, focusing on Canadian and Quebec history and responses to the situation of European Jews during the Holocaust.
While the non-governmental sector has achieved wonderful results, the lack of an organizational structure to set a national vision for Holocaust education has resulted in a fractured approach across Canada and no continuity of messaging and content. At the same time, it has also resulted in Holocaust education organizations developing a wide variety of resources to meet the particular curriculum and language requirements of individual provinces and territories.
The lack of central funding to support the Holocaust education organizations is also a challenge. Currently, institutional and programmatic educational funding is raised primarily within the Jewish community through a series of non-governmental organizations. These organizations then apply for project specific funding from the Government of Canada or through private donors. Organizations also carry out other fundraising initiatives such as the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Spirit of Hope Benefit, a dinner event which provides an opportunity to foster dialogue as well as educate about the Holocaust and critical issues of the day. The scarcity of funding has also resulted in organizations considering how to work more collaboratively.
The centralization of Holocaust expertise in large urban areas of the country also presents a challenge for teachers in rural areas who have no direct access to the necessary resources to support educational instruction. Holocaust education organizations have taken steps to develop comprehensive educational units that can be loaned to teachers across the country, such as the Discovery Kits of the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre, the Teaching Trunks of the Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre, and Hana’s Suitcase of the Montreal Holocaust Museum.
Technology is also being used by Holocaust education organization to give teachers in rural areas access to quality online pedagogical resources. All major Holocaust education organizations have invested substantially in the development of these resources which are offered free to educators across the country. In a country as vast as Canada, the provision of online resources is viewed as one of the best ways to provide rural areas with access to a similar educational experience to that which students in urban areas would receive. Other innovative methods are also being used.
In 2013 the Montreal Holocaust Museum developed a tablet app. Meant as a tool for self-guided museum tours, it is now also being used in classrooms and by interested public outside the Museum. The app was downloaded outside the Museum over 2,000 times in 2016. A smartphone version is being developed and will be available in 2017. The Museum has produced about 250 video clips, on different themes, and uploaded them to YouTube. They were viewed 48,000 times in 2016. As well, in 2016 the online Holocaust education tools developed by the Museum were downloaded in whole or in part over 55,000 times.
The Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies has also implemented an innovative approach to reach audiences outside large urban centres with its Tour for Humanity, a self-contained 30 seat mobile classroom in a bus. Through this innovative approach, they are reaching approximately 200 students each day across Ontario to educate on diversity, democracy, and Canadian civic rights and responsibilities through the use of historical events, focusing on how these events are relevant to both Canadian and global perspectives. A six minute documentary about the Holocaust is one of the educational tools featured in the Tour for Humanity. The initiative received the 2016 Award of Excellence from the Canadian Race Relations Foundation a Crown Corporation dedicated to working toward the elimination of racial discrimination. To date, Tour for Humanity has visited over 300 schools across Ontario, reaching more than 50,000 students.
The ground-breaking interactive website Re:Collection, by the Azrieli Foundation, invites users to explore the first-hand accounts of Holocaust survivors published in the Azrieli Series of Holocaust Survivor memoirs. This digital platform provides a purely Canadian multimedia opportunity to delve deeper into the lives of the survivors through interview footage, memoir excerpts, photographs, artefacts and an interactive timeline and map.
The previously mentioned digitization of Holocaust survivor testimony is another major step in advancing Holocaust education in Canada, providing an alternative to in-person survivor testimony across the country. Of particular note is the work of the Montreal Holocaust Museum and the Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre to consolidate survivor testimony across the country into the Canada Collection, a compilation of more than 1,250 testimonies, housed at the USC Shoah Foundation within the Visual History Archive. In addition to preservation of the testimonies a website and pedagogical tools were developed to assure usage of the testimonies.
As noted earlier, Canada is undergoing a national process of Truth and Reconciliation with its indigenous communities. Provincial curricula are being revised to include indigenous history and world views. With teacher focus on this issue, a challenge for Holocaust educators going forward will be to find potential connections between reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and the Holocaust.
Other general challenges include: an over-crowded curriculum where the Holocaust is not mandated, aligning the Holocaust to new core competencies as provincial curriculum are revised, and cultivating best practices among educators in a competitive field of professional development activities.
The jurisdictional challenges related to education make resolving some of the issues identified here difficult. The federal government could explore opportunities to engage with provinces and territories around teacher training and the development of a national perspective on Holocaust education.
Holocaust education in schools
Across Canada the Holocaust is most often taught within the historical context of World War II and is also integrated into classes such as world issues, social justice, world religions, social studies, and language arts. This interface with complementary subjects and instruction can strengthen the outcomes of Holocaust education, even as its expansion into these subject areas requires close monitoring of its adoption from the most basic considerations of factual accuracy to its use and misuse in relation to other global histories.
Because of the curricula contexts in several Canadian provinces, it is often by integrating the Holocaust into the study of Canadian history that educators are able to address the Holocaust in their classrooms. The Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre has produced a number of teaching exhibitions (travelling and/or with online companions) that integrate Canada’s national history into the teaching of the Holocaust: “Enemy Aliens”: The Internment of Jewish Refugees in Canada, 1940-43; More Than Just Games: Canada and the 1936 Olympics; Open Hearts – Closed Doors: The War Orphans Project; and Canada Responds to the Holocaust, 1944-45. These exhibits reach thousands of students each year. For example, from October 2016 to June 2017, the Canada Responds to the Holocaust, 1944-45 exhibition welcomed 65 classes, including more than 1,400 students. These projects have made significant contributions to Holocaust education in British Columbia and throughout Canada, and have been accompanied by comprehensive pedagogical materials and programming. The Montreal Holocaust Museum also recently launched the first comprehensive Canadian traveling exhibit on the Holocaust with funding from the Federal Government’s World War Commemorations Fund. The exhibit, And in 1948, I came to Canada: The Holocaust in Six Dates, features video materials, artefacts, and a teachers’ guide.
The Historical Thinking Project, based around six historical thinking concepts, fosters a new approach to history education, centered on the proposition that historical thinking is central to history instruction and that students should become more competent as historical thinkers as they progress through their schooling. This concept has been accepted across Canada: it was adopted officially by the Province of Ontario in its 2015 curriculum; the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre’s pedagogical resources link the study of the Holocaust – in particular the engagement with primary sources – to historical thinking concepts; and the resources developed by the Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre and the Montreal Holocaust Museum for the survivor testimony collection.
In English and French courses, Canadian survivor memoirs, such as those published by the Azrieli Foundation, are being used in place of Night or The Diary of Anne Frank, to deepen a Canadian component in the classroom. Some provinces have also included in their curriculum the course Facing History and Ourselves, Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity, which discusses a Canadian perspective of global instances of genocide.
Canada’s Holocaust education centres continue to play a vital role in improving Holocaust programs and resources for educators. The Azrieli Foundation’s Holocaust Survivor Memoirs program, the only national bilingual Holocaust outreach and publishing organization, with its mandate to publish and broadly distribute memoirs of Canadian Holocaust survivors, has helped ensure that students and educators have access to these resources. They have made close to 100 memoirs written by survivors that made their way to Canada available free of charge to educational institutions across the country in English and French. In the past five years, the program has held events with survivors and educators in every province and reached over 200,000 students.
The reach of the Canadian Holocaust education centres is impressive. For example, the Freeman Family Foundation Holocaust Education Centre’s Holocaust Symposium for high school students attracts up to 2,000 students annually, some traveling from the United States. In 2016-2017, the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre welcomed 50 classroom teachers, university professors, school librarians and educators from British Columbia and Washington State to the Biennial Shafran Teachers Conference.
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, Manitoba, also plays a significant role in educating students and adults about the Holocaust and linking it to Canadian history. The centerpiece of the Examining the Holocaust gallery at the Museum is a theatre that features a documentary film exploring the pervasive antisemitism that existed in Canada during the Nazi era. Prior to and during the Second World War, antisemitism and racism flourished in many parts of Canadian society. This influenced Canada’s uncaring response to Jews seeking a port of refuge. Some Canadians did speak on behalf of Jews fleeing the Holocaust. Nevertheless, Canada had one of the worst records of refugee-receiving countries before and during the Second World War. The purpose of the film is to link the Holocaust to Canada in a surprising way. There is a common myth that Canadians entered the Second World War in order to rescue Jews from the Holocaust. The film changes that myth. It also positions German National Socialism within a global context of antisemitism that included Canada. The film concludes with a discussion of ongoing antisemitism in Canada today, connecting the Holocaust to contemporary human rights concerns.
Influence of IHRA membership on Holocaust education
As an educational forum, IHRA’s development and dissemination of best practices in teaching the Holocaust has informed the pedagogical direction of Holocaust education in Canada, such as the work of the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre’s Teacher Advisory Committee comprised of curriculum development experts, which advise on the development of teaching materials and professional development initiatives for educators. The Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre presents its annual Holocaust Education Week programs, as well as a specialized introductory program on the Holocaust that is delivered to newcomers to Canada enrolled in government funded English language classes, and educational activities undertaken for high school students. As an educational facility, the Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre reaches 18,000 high school students annually.
Canada’s membership in IHRA has considerably extended access to international networks of professionals and created opportunities for collaboration with other IHRA member countries. The Embassy of Canada in Budapest supported a creative anti-discrimination project implemented by the Visual World Foundation about Training Bystanders to Become Upstanders. The Ambassadors to Hungary, Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina were interviewed as part of this project, and the resulting video became part of the teaching material used with students.
Our membership provided an opportunity to Chair IHRA in 2013, which had a highly positive impact, leading to increased support and interest in Holocaust education activities and renewed support for education and remembrance initiatives. For example: preservation of Holocaust survivor testimony; an award for excellence in Holocaust Education; participation of Canadian students in the international poster competition, a joint initiative of IHRA and Yad Vashem in Israel; development of a guide to Holocaust-related holdings at Library and Archives Canada; and a number of academic conferences.
Evaluation of educational programs
Evaluations are an important aspect of education and are routinely conducted following student visits to Holocaust education centres, when they have engaged with teaching resources provided to schools (such as Discovery Kits and Book Sets), and following participation in symposiums. The Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre engages a Teacher Advisory Committee to weigh in on content development and help develop evaluation tools for students and teachers, and in addition Dr. Andrea Webb (Faculty of Education, University of British Columbia) has developed a methodology for assessing the effectiveness of a new Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre-developed pedagogical resource, Primary Voices: Teaching Through Holocaust Survivor Testimony.
The Azrieli Foundation’s Holocaust Survivor Memoirs Program routinely conducts user testing with educators and students to assess the effectiveness of its resources, particularly its Re:Collection interactive platform.
As well, the Montreal Holocaust Museum has been involved in a number of recent research projects carried out by Quebec university researchers, Marie McAndrew (Université de Montréal), Sabrina Moisan (Université de Sherbrooke) and Sivane Hirsch (Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières). The first project, which received federal government funding, evaluated the impact of school visits to the Museum and the use of the Museums pedagogical tools on anti-racist attitudes of students. The second reviewed the portrayal of the Jewish community and the Holocaust in Quebec textbooks. The third project, still in progress, is analyzing how the Holocaust is taught and commemorated in Jewish day schools, with the goal of developing specific programs for educators teaching grades 6 to 11 in the Jewish day school system.
Historic and memorial Sites
At the national level, a number of important changes related to historic and memorial sites have occurred during the reporting period including, as previously mentioned, the passage in 2011 of the National Holocaust Monument Act. The Act directed the establishment of a National Holocaust Monument to commemorate the victims and Canadian survivors of the Holocaust. Following an inauguration ceremony on September 27, the Monument is now open to the public. The opening of Canada’s National Holocaust Monument is expected to increase interest, and provide a focal point for national Holocaust commemorative events.
In September 2014 the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) opened in Winnipeg, Manitoba, with a mandate “to explore the subject of human rights, with special but not exclusive reference to Canada, in order to enhance the public's understanding of human rights, to promote respect for others, and to encourage reflection and dialogue.” One of the CMHR’s 10 permanent galleries is devoted to the Holocaust. The gallery, titled Examining the Holocaust, explores the Holocaust in a manner that illuminates both the event’s specificity, as well as insights that it can lend to reflections on human rights more broadly. The gallery also highlights Canadian connections, such as stories of Holocaust survivors who made their homes in Canada after the Second World War, and a short documentary on social and political antisemitism in Canada during the 1930s and 1940s, which informed the country’s refusal to open its doors to Jewish refugees trying to flee Nazi Germany. This film also forms an important component in the Museum’s educational program When Rights Are Denied, which is designed for students in Grades 9-12.
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is working with the Freeman Family Foundation Holocaust Education Centre of Western Canada to arrange for survivors of the Holocaust to speak to students when schools visit the CMHR. Students are also invited to tour a museum space at the Freeman Family Foundation Holocaust Education Centre, a Centre that was established by survivors living in Winnipeg. The Freeman Family Foundation Holocaust Education Centre has also supported the CMHR through the sharing of artefacts and participating in research projects.
At the provincial level, the Province of Quebec announced in 2016 a grant of $407,465 over three years to the Montreal Holocaust Museum in recognition of the importance and impact of the work of the Montreal Holocaust Museum.
A sign was erected in Ripples, New Brunswick, at an internment camp, where Jewish refugees mostly from Germany and Austria were interned during the early years of the war. As well, a website provides information on the history of the camp, and a small museum located in a nearby community contains artefacts from the camp.
Cultures of remembrance
In 2003, through the Holocaust Memorial Day Act (Annex C), the Government of Canada established Holocaust Memorial Day – Yom ha-Shoah, to be marked on 27th Nissan, as determined by the Jewish lunar calendar. Also marked in Canada are International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Raoul Wallenberg Day and Kristallnacht. The Prime Minister, other Ministers, and leaders at other levels of government all issue statements commemorating the history of the Holocaust and encouraging Canadians to draw lessons from the Holocaust. In addition, during state visits abroad, elected officials have visited Holocaust commemoration sites. In 2016, Prime Minister Trudeau visited Auschwitz-Birkenau, drawing public awareness which contributes to Holocaust education and remembrance.
In Canada, most programming for commemorative events are organized and executed by non-government organizations, with attendance from all levels of government, diplomatic representatives, and the public. In Vancouver, commemorative days are marked under the auspices of the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre, with proclamations issued by the City of Vancouver. In Winnipeg, the Freeman Family Foundation Holocaust Education Centre carries out public commemorative programming and this year, the Mayor of Winnipeg publicly recognized International Holocaust Remembrance Day by half-masting the flags in front of City Hall and noting the importance of International Holocaust Remembrance Day in City Council. Also this year, to memorialize January 27, the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center published a significant reflections booklet with statements by Canada’s Prime Minister, religious leaders and mayors and police. Other organizations such as the Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre in Toronto, the Montreal Holocaust Museum, and the Azrieli Foundation, to name a few, also carry out significant public commemorative programming.
Commemorative event organizers have noted the growing involvement of Holocaust survivor descendants and that non-Jewish attendees are increasingly representative of the diversity of Canada’s population.
There have been opportunities to work with other organizations to mark significant Holocaust events. Canada-based NGO Ukrainian Jewish Encounter has been working for several years to foster cooperation and dialogue on both the political and academic levels between Ukrainians and Jews. To mark the 75th anniversary of Babi Yar (in Ukrainian, Babyn Yar) they partnered with the World Jewish Congress, the government of Ukraine, and others, to sponsor a series of public commemorative events. The events included a youth conference that engaged over 200 young people from Ukraine, North America, Europe, and Israel, a public symposium held in conjunction with the publication of a collection of essays, Babyn Yar: History and Memory, a memorial space architectural design competition for the Babi Yar site, and a commemorative concert at the Kyiv Opera House.
The substantial investment that the Ukrainian Jewish Encounter made in the “Babi Yar 75” commemoration and the extensive consultations that UJE representatives held with the Government of Ukraine politicians and officials over the previous year contributed to the largest ever official Babi Yar commemoration ceremony on September 29, 2016, attended by world leaders and dignitaries. Canada will continue to work closely with the IHRA chairmanship to promote the objectives of IHRA in the Ukraine.
Beyond the Holocaust, Canada also recognizes the Armenian genocide, the Ukrainian Famine and Genocide (“Holodomor”), the Rwandan genocide, and the Srebrenica genocide in Bosnia. To commemorate these four genocides and the Holocaust, the House of Commons unanimously passed a motion in 2015 to declare April of each year as Genocide Remembrance, Condemnation and Prevention Month.
Canadians commemorate each of the five genocides by means of community-organized commemorative events, and statements by elected officials. The Holocaust is not normally mentioned at events that are not specific to the Holocaust. However, Holocaust educators have taken opportunities to work with other communities affected by genocide. The Azrieli Foundation held an event with the Rwandan community titled Write to Heal which explored two distinct narratives, with two survivors examining the use of memoir in the journey toward healing.
Holocaust denial and other hate crimes and their relation to antisemitism
Canada is first and foremost an inclusive and diverse society that stands against Holocaust denial and antisemitism. Any reported incidents of Holocaust denial or antisemitism are overwhelmingly condemned by Canadian society, as well as by mainstream media.
However, antisemitism continues to persist in Canada manifesting itself through vandalism and graffiti, the circulation of hate propaganda, a rise in intolerant and racist language used online in places like Twitter, in comments sections, web forums and blogs, a number of bomb threats to Jewish schools and community centres, intimidation of Jewish university students, and the use of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement to delegitimize the State of Israel.
Data gathered by B’nai Brith Canada in its 2016 Annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents shows that antisemitic incidents have been on the rise over the past 10 years. In 2016 there were 1,728 antisemitic incidents reported, a 26 percent increase from 2015. These figures were based on phone calls to their anti-hate hotline and police data.
The audit indicates that harassment continues to be the most common form of antisemitism experienced in Canada, with 1559 incidents (90%) reported in 2016, followed by 158 incidents of vandalism (9%), and 11 violent incidents (1%). One of the most notable changes in 2016 was the increase in Holocaust denial, which made up 20 percent of antisemitic incidents, up from 5 percent in 2015.
Police-reported hate crime data gathered in 2015 by Statistics Canada, the most recent available, indicates a 5 percent increase in overall hate crime in Canada. This is up from the previous year, with 1,295 incidents reported in 2014, and 1,362 incidents in 2015. Much of this increase was a result of more hate crimes targeting Arab and West Asian populations. While Jews continue to be the most targeted population based on religion, there was a decline in the number of incidents reported from 213 reported in 2014, to 178 reported in 2015. Hate crimes targeting the Jewish population accounted for 13 percent of all hate crimes, followed closely by hate crimes targeting the Muslim population (12 percent). Hate crimes targeting the Muslim population increased from 99 incidents in 2014 to 159 incidents in 2015, an increase of 61 percent. Statistics Canada acknowledges that these figures may not reveal the full extent of hate crime in Canada because not all crimes are reported to police.
Police-reported hate crimes refer to criminal incidents that, upon investigation by police, are found to have been motivated by hatred toward an identifiable group, as defined in the Criminal Code of Canada. In Canada, four specific offences are listed as hate crimes in the Criminal Code of Canada: advocating genocide, public incitement of hatred, wilful promotion of hatred and mischief motivated by hate in relation to religious property. In addition, subparagraph 718.2(a)(i) of the Criminal Code allows for increased penalties when sentencing any criminal offence (such as assault or mischief) where there is evidence that the offence was motivated by bias, prejudice or hatred based on various criteria as set out in that subparagraph. These are also considered hate crimes. Police determine whether or not a crime was motivated by hatred based on information gathered during the investigation and common national guidelines for record classification.
Between 2010 and 2015, the majority (85%) of incidents targeting Jewish populations were non-violent. Three quarters of hate crimes targeting Jewish populations were mischief such as vandalism and graffiti. Violent offences accounted for 15 percent of hate crimes targeting Jewish populations from 2010 to 2015. The most common violent offence was uttering threats. Males 35 and older were the principle (62%) victims of violent hate crimes targeting Jewish populations between 2010 and 2015. The majority (89%), reported no physical injury. Over half (58%) of these victims identified the accused as a stranger.
The Toronto Police 2016 Annual Hate/Bias Crime Statistical Report shows hate crimes increased by eight percent, up from 134 incidents in 2015, to 145 in 2016. Crimes motivated by religion accounted for 46 percent of the incidents reported – the highest in the last 10 years. The city’s Jewish community was targeted the most, accounting for 30 percent of reported attacks.
Statistics Canada does not gather specific data on Holocaust denial. However, media reports and the Annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents undertaken by B’nai Brith Canada, indicate that incidents of Holocaust denial continue to take place and are increasingly moving online. The 2016 Annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents shows that in 2016 twenty percent of the incidents involved Holocaust denial, a sharp increase from five per cent in 2015.
A troubling trend revealed in B’nai Brith’s 2016 Annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents was the rise in Holocaust denial in Canada. Of particular concern is the importation of Holocaust denial by some individuals within diaspora communities, views which have been increasingly expressed in foreign language media. In some instances, Holocaust denial and a distorted and whitewashed version of Holocaust era history are being exported from Canada back to an individual’s country of origin. In some countries this has the potential to impact the country of origin both socially and politically by rekindling these attitudes.
As a multicultural society, Canada views diversity as a strength and source of national identity and pride. However, no society is free from discrimination, and Canada acknowledges that there is more work to be done to foster social inclusion for all Canadians. Below are some of the efforts the Government of Canada has made to address antisemitism in Canada.
Efforts to Address Antisemitism
In 2010, Canada hosted the second Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism Conference where it led the development of the Ottawa Protocol on Combating Antisemitism. This international action plan was developed to help nations measure their progress in the fight against antisemitism. In 2011, Canada became the first country to sign the Protocol.
Internationally a number of efforts have been made by Canada, through the Office of Human Rights, Freedoms and Inclusion to address antisemitism, to counter on-line hate, and promote diversity and inclusion more broadly. Canada co-hosted a forum on Global Antisemitism at the UN with the US, EU and Israel (2016), hosted an interactive panel on the Power of Inclusion and Diversity at the UN General Assembly (2016), co-hosted the first ever forum on Combatting Anti-Muslim Discrimination at the UN with the US, EU and Organization of Islamic Cooperation (2017), and hosted a high-level panel on Inclusion and Diversity at the Human Rights Council in Geneva (2017).
In addition Canada led a ground-breaking Joint Statement at the 34th Human Rights Council in Geneva on March 20, 2017. The Joint Statement highlights the power of inclusion and the benefits of diversity and its inherent link to greater respect for human rights. In total, 83 countries have officially signed the Joint Statement.
Canada has also worked closely with Israel and the United States to address antisemitism – including through Ministerial participation in United Nations activities on the subject. Canadian efforts were also instrumental in building consensus for the adoption of the working definition of antisemitism by IHRA. Canada also lent its full support to the German chairmanship’s efforts to have the working definition adopted in December 2016 at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), and publicly expressed its disappointment following its non-adoption due to the obstructionist role of one of its member-states.
In 2015, the House of Commons unanimously adopted a motion condemning the rise of antisemitism around the world. The motion grew out of a four-hour discussion, called a “take-note” debate in the House on the rise of global antisemitism.
In 2016, the House of Commons passed a motion formally condemning the BDS movement against Israel. The motion stated that the BDS movement “promotes the demonization and delegitimization of the State of Israel.” The Ontario Legislative Assembly also passed a similar motion in 2016, condemning the BDS movement for its treatment of Israel.
In 2016, the antisemitic French comic Dieudonné M’bala was barred from entering Canada. He had been convicted multiple times of hate speech in Europe.
To deal with the unfortunate reality that incidents of hate take place in Canada, the federal government continues to fund a Communities at Risk: Security Infrastructure Program with $5.0 million in funding over 5 years identified in the Government of Canada’s 2017 budget. The Program is designed to help communities at risk of hate-motivated crime improve their security infrastructure at their places of worship, community centres, and provincially recognized educational institutions.
In addition to government efforts, a wide range of non-governmental organizations contribute to the fight against antisemitism in Canada. These include among others the Holocaust education centres, the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, and organizations such as FAST (Fighting Antisemitism Together) established with a coalition of non-Jewish business leaders in 2005.
Persecution and genocide of the Roma
Research on the persecution and the genocide of the Roma
Only recently has there been a movement within Canada to record the tragic history of the Roma. Writing the Roma (Fernwood publishing, 2016) by Queen’s University associate professor, Cynthia Levine-Rasky, is the first book to provide an overview of the identities, origins, history and treatment of Roma refugees. It traces the historical and cultural roots of the Roma in Europe, through their genocide during the Nazi era, their persecution in Eastern Europe in the post-Communist era, to their settlement as refugees in Canada. This book challenges the stereotypes surrounding this non-territorial nation while exposing the ways that Canadian immigration policies have affected Roma populations.
The National Film Board of Canada includes the 2011 award winning documentary film A People Uncounted in its online educational screening resources. The film is the effort of Toronto filmmakers Tom Rasky and Len Binder, both children of Jewish Holocaust survivors; director Aaron Yeger; and Robi Botos, a Roma musician who fled Hungary to Toronto years ago. It documents the centuries of intolerance and persecution of the Roma in Europe, including most notably during the Nazi era, and demonstrates how the community’s present state has been deeply shaped by the tragedies of the past. The film was also part of the 2012 Vanderbilt University Holocaust Lecture Series.
Including the Roma in teaching about the Holocaust
In Canada, teaching about the genocide of the Roma is being encouraged through public education forums such as Holocaust Education Week, undertaken by the Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre. The Centre, like other Holocaust education providers, utilises pedagogy and materials developed through IHRA-funded projects and encourages teachers to use these materials.
The genocide of the Roma is also included in the Examining the Holocaust gallery in the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. This gallery contains a section that looks at targeted attacks against minority groups perpetrated by Nazi Germany and its collaborators during the Holocaust era. In addition to the Roma, the disabled and some of the Slavic peoples (Poles, Russians, and others) were targeted because of their perceived “racial inferiority”. Other groups were persecuted on political ideology or behavioural grounds, among them Communists, Socialists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and homosexuals. These targeted attacks are presented as distinct from, but interacting with, the Holocaust.
The genocide of the Roma is also increasingly integrated into understanding of the victims of National Socialism as part of the history of the Holocaust and the rise of National Socialism.
The integration of the genocide of the Roma into teaching about the Holocaust is an area requiring further development, which would be aided by supporting the creation of teaching exhibitions, and pedagogical resources.
Commemoration of the Roma
In recognition of the underlying shared history of Jews and Roma as victims of the Nazis’ racially-based persecution, a number of Canadian Holocaust education centres are working with the Roma community to hold commemorative events to mark August 2, the international day of commemoration chosen by Roma organizations to remember the Roma victims of the genocide perpetrated by the Nazis.
The Holocaust, genocide and crimes against humanity
The survey ‘A Matter of Comparison’ by the Committee on the Holocaust, Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity lists research, education and remembrance activities which draw a comparative perspective between the Holocaust and other genocides and crimes against humanity. Are there any necessary corrections or additions to the survey related to your country or area of expertise? If so, please provide or update the relevant data.
Canada does not have any corrections or additions to the survey at this time.
Community Historical Recognition Program (CHRP)
The Community Historical Recognition Program (CHRP) was a grants and contributions program established by the Government of Canada to acknowledge and educate all Canadians about the historical experiences of communities affected by wartime discriminatory measures and immigration restrictions applied in Canada.
Under this program, $2.5 million was made available to organizations representing constituents of the Jewish community for projects to raise awareness about the refusal of Canada to offer refuge to the passengers of the MS St. Louis, who were seeking to escape Germany, and the internment of Jewish refugees as enemy aliens from Austria and Germany, in camps across Canada.
Under the terms and conditions of CHRP the following were eligible applicants:
- Canadian not-for-profit organizations or associations and charitable organizations incorporated under the Canada Corporations Act, Part II, or other corresponding federal, provincial or territorial legislation, with a mandate relevant to, or a demonstrated partnership or link with, the affected communities.
- Communications media (e.g., newspapers, magazines, radio, television), boards of education, schools, colleges and universities with a demonstrated partnership or link with the affected communities.
Established criteria were used to assess funding applications, outlined in the table below. In addition, the project proposals were reviewed by an Advisory Committee that provided advice on the merit of projects. Advisory Committee members were drawn from organizations representing constituents of the community.
|Objectives||Results, Budget Integrity and Value for Money||Likelihood of Success|
The objectives are specific, clearly identified and realistic.
Expected results are realistic and measurable, and provide a significant contribution toward the achievement of the objectives of the CHRP.
The affected community has demonstrated its support for the project and, where relevant, key community stakeholders have been engaged.
The proposal demonstrates that the project will address the recognition or commemoration of, or education on the historical experience in a manner that is meaningful to the affected community.
The project will effectively reach the target audience and produce results that represent good value for money.
The applicant has the capacity to deliver the project (with regard to experience, financial situation, capacity and governance structure).
The project will not duplicate previous initiatives.
A complete and relevant Performance Assessment Plan that demonstrates how attainment of the expected project results will be measured is included.
The proposed approach and action plan support the project objectives and are well designed to allow for the successful and timely delivery of the project.
The project responds to an identified need or priority in the community.
The proposed budget is reasonable. It reflects due regard for efficient and prudent use of funding, as well as the availability of other funding sources.
The resources planned for the project allow for the successful, efficient and timely delivery of the project.
The proposed budget is balanced and sufficiently detailed, and the links between expenses and activities are clear.
Where agreements for collaboration are required to ensure project delivery or success, the partners or contributors have confirmed their participation in the project.
The following projects were funded under the Community Historical Recognition Program:
The St. Louis: Ship of Fate — Exhibit
Recipient: Atlantic Jewish Council, Halifax
The council created a travelling version of its successful exhibit, St. Louis: Ship of Fate, which was launched in 2009 in partnership with the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Canada’s refusal of the MS St. Louis refugees.
The travelling exhibit itself was bilingual; a website, featuring educational, marketing and evaluation materials is partly bilingual — materials produced by third parties are in their original language only.
The project also included planning, obtaining agreements with at least two museums in major Canadian centres to show the exhibit for at least three months, transportation, marketing, an exhibit launch, educational programming, and evaluation.
None is Too Many: Memorializing the MS St. Louis
Recipient: Canadian Jewish Congress, Ottawa
The congress’s project commemorates the 70th Anniversary of the MS St. Louis incident, when 937 Jewish passengers fleeing Germany on the eve of the Second World War were refused refuge in Canada. The project comprises a historical monument at Pier 21 in Halifax harbour, teaching materials called the St. Louis Educational Program and a national youth essay-writing contest themed “70 years later: What are the lessons of the MS St. Louis for twentieth century Canada?”
The Fortunate Few: The Story of the 5,000 European Jews admitted to Canada between 1933 and 1947
Recipient: Jewish Immigrant Aid Services, Toronto
This project comprises a bilingual documentary film, a bilingual classroom educational booklet and flip-card personal profiles of Jewish immigrants. It brings to light the experiences of the estimated 5,000 European Jews admitted to Canada between 1933 and 1947 despite the anti-Jewish immigration policies epitomized by Canada’s 1939 refusal of entry to the 937 Jewish refugees aboard the MS St. Louis.
Commemorating the MS St. Louis
Recipient: Jewish Youth Library of Ottawa
This project created a series of products commemorating the MS St. Louis incident: a 20-page bilingual commemorative booklet, a permanent exhibit in the form of a mixed-media mosaic mural and wall-mounted photographs of the ship and its passengers, and a children’s book.
The exhibit is on display for the general public; schools are invited for formal guided tours. The commemorative booklet is distributed free of charge to visitors, Jewish schools, public schools, public and selected libraries.
Creation of a National Task Force on Holocaust Research, Remembrance and Education
Recipient: The League for Human Rights of B’nai Brith, Toronto
This three-year project comprises a bilingual conference entitled
The MS St. Louis: Looking Back, Moving Forward, held in Toronto on June 1 and 2, 2009, and the creation of the National Task Force on Holocaust Research, Remembrance and Education.
B’nai Brith also produced research to better understand the MS St. Louis incident and the historical context in which it occurred, and created educational materials for educators and high school students.
Radio Drama — The Voyage of the MS St. Louis, a Radio Diary / Radio Shalom raconte le MS St-Louis
Recipient: Radio Shalom, Montréal
The project consists of a radio drama and school program called The Voyage of the MS St. Louis, a Radio Diary / Radio Shalom raconte le MS St-Louis. Radio Shalom produced 14 one-hour episodes in English and French, which featured panellists and a listener call-in component. Listeners had the opportunity to participate in an open-line broadcast, while a host interviewed guests — descendants, survivors, museum historians and authors — familiar with the MS St. Louis incident about the restrictive immigration policies of the time. In addition, four students hosted two 30-minute episodes.
The audio recordings are archived on the Radio Shalom website and may serve as reference material for schools or other researchers.
Not Wanted: The Tragedy of the St. Louis Era
Recipient: Stitch Media Inc., Toronto
An interactive, comprehensive web portal describes the MS St. Louis incident, the wartime measures that were enacted between 1939 and 1947 and the consequences of these policies for the Jewish-Canadian population. Stitch Media also created a short animated series to inform youth in Canada and worldwide about the lessons learned from the MS St. Louis era.
The portal enables educators to adapt the contents of the website into their lesson plans. Online features include functionality to run webinars/lessons within a virtual classroom with video, audio testimonies and animation.
Internment of Jewish Refugees in Canada from 1940 to 1943
Recipient: Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre, Vancouver
The research for the project drew on the rich primary source materials of some of the 2,000 Jewish men interned as ’enemy aliens’ in Canada from 1940 to 1943. Testimonies of some of the few remaining eyewitnesses were recorded on video.
The project focuses on the little-known history of Jewish refugees, many of them adolescents, from Nazi Germany and Austria who sought asylum in Britain, only to be deported to Canada in response to Winston Churchill’s demand to “collar the lot.” The Jewish internees’ experiences in camps in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick, where they were imprisoned alongside German, Austrian and Italian nationals, including Nazis, have never been told through a comprehensive exhibit.
This list is not comprehensive, but rather presents a sampling of Canadian research:
Abella, Irving and Harold Troper. 1982. None is too Many: Canada and the Jews of Europe, 1933-1948. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Ball, Karyn and Per Anders Rudling. “The Underbelly of Canadian Multiculturalism: Holocaust Obfuscation and Envy in the Debate about the Canadian Museum of Human Rights.” Holocaust Studies: A Journal of Culture and History 20, no. 3 (2014): London, Vallentine Mitchell.
Bassler, Gerhard P., 1992. Sanctuary denied: refugees from the Third Reich and Newfoundland immigration policy, 1906-1949. ISER Books.
Bergen, Doris L., 2003. War and Genocide: A Concise History of the Holocaust. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
Bergen, Doris L., 2004. The Sword of the Lord: Military Chaplains from the First to the Twenty-First Centuries. University of Notre Dame Press.
Bergen, Doris L., 2013. Alltag im Holocaust: Jüdisches Leben im Großdeutschen Reich 1941 1945 (Schriftenreihe Der Vierteljahrshefte Fur Zeitgeschichte, Band 106): Jüdisches Leben im Großdeutschen Reich 1941-1945. Olenbourge Wissenschaftsverlag.
Bialystok, Franklin. 2000. Delayed Impact: The Holocaust and the Canadian Jewish Community. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.
Browning, Christopher R., Susannah Heschel, Michael R. Marrus, and Milton Shain. 2015. Holocaust scholarship: personal trajectories and professional interpretations. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Celinscak, Mark. 2015. Distance From the Belsen Heap: Allied Forces and the Liberation of a Nazi Concentration Camp. University of Toronto Press.
Chatterley, Catherine D. “Canada’s Struggle with Holocaust Memorialization: The War Museum Controversy, Ethnic Identity Politics, and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.” Holocaust and Genocide Studies 29, no. 2 (2015).
Davies, Alan T., ed. Antisemitism in Canada: History and Interpretation. Waterloo: Wilfred Laurier University Press, 1992.
Davies, Alan T., Marilyn Fletcher Nefsky. How Silent Were the Churches?: Canadian Protestantism and the Jewish Plight During the Nazi Era. Waterloo: Wilfred Laurier University Press, 1997.
Davies, Alan T., The Crucified Nation: A Motif in Modern Nationalism. Brighton England: Sussex Academic Press, 2008.
Erwin, Norman. 2016. The Holocaust, Canadian Jews, and Canada’s “Good War” Against Nazism. Canadian Jewish Studies.
Gammon, Carolyn. 2013. The unwritten diary of Israel Unger. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press.
Glowacka, Dorota. 2012. Disappearing Traces: Holocaust Testimonials, Ethics and Aesthetics. Washington University Press, S. Weinstein Series in Holocaust Studies.
Goldberg, Adara. 2015. Holocaust survivors in Canada: exclusion, inclusion, transformation, 1947-1955. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press.
Goodman, Pearl. 2015. When their memories become mine: moving beyond my parents’ past. Dundas: Bridgeross Communications.
Himka, John Paul and Joanna Beata Michlic. 2013. Bringing the Dark Past to Light: The Reception of the Holocaust in Post-Communist Europe
Horowitz, Sara. 2012. Lessons and Legacies of the Holocaust X: Back to the Sources. Northwestern University Press.
Klein, L. Ruth. 2012. Nazi Germany, Canadian responses: confronting antisemitisim in the shadow of war. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.
Lawlor, Allison. 2016. The saddest ship afloat: the tragedy of the MS St. Louis. Halifax: Nimbus Publishing.
Marrus, Michael R. 2016. Lessons of the Holocaust. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Menkis, R., and H. Troper. 2015. More than Just Games: Canada and the 1936 Olympics. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Millo (Jarniewski), Belle. 2010. Voices of Winnipeg Holocaust Survivors. Winnipeg: Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada
Moisan, S., S. Hirsch and G. Audet. 2015. Holocaust Education in Quebec: Teachers’ Positioning and Practices, McGill Journal of Education, 50, 2-3, p. 247-268. (published May 2016)
Reid, Scott and Mario Silva. 2014. Tackling hate: combating antisemitism: the Ottawa protocol. Oakville: Mosaic Press.
Robinson, Ira. 2015. A history of antisemitism in Canada. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press.
Ronen, Mordechai with Steve Paikin. 2015. I am a victor: the Mordechai Ronen story. Toronto: Dundurn Press.
Zimmermann, Ernest Robert, Michel S. Beaulieu and David K. Ratz. 2015. The Little Third Reich on Lake Superior : A History of Canadian Internment Camp R. Edmonton: The University of Alberta Press.
The Azrieli Series of Holocaust Survivor Memoirs: English (also available in French)
Abrams, Judy and Eva Felsenberg Marx. 2012. Tenuous Threads / One of the Lucky Ones. Toronto: The Azrieli Foundation.
Adler, Amek, 2017. Six Lost Years. Toronto: The Azrieli Foundation.
Applebaum, Molly. 2017. Buried Words: The Diary of Molly Applebaum. Toronto: The Azrieli Foundation.
Baum, Claire, 2014. The Hidden Package. Toronto: The Azrieli Foundation.
Beker, Bronia and Joseph Beker. 2014. Joy Runs Deeper. Toronto: The Azrieli Foundation.
Bornstein, Max. 2012. If Home is Not Here. Toronto: The Azrieli Foundation.
Carmelly, Felicia. 2015. Across the Rivers of Memory. Toronto: The Azrieli Foundation.
Dick, Tommy. 2007. Getting Out Alive. Toronto: The Azrieli Foundation.
Domanski, Marian. 2012. Fleeing from the Hunter. Toronto: The Azrieli Foundation.
Élias Quddus, Marguerite. 2013. In Hiding. Toronto: The Azrieli Foundation.
Fischer Spiro, Zsuzsanna and Eva Shainblum. 2016. In Fragile Moments / The Last Time. Toronto: The Azrieli Foundation.
Freund, John. 2014. Spring’s End. Toronto: The Azrieli Foundation.
Goldenberg, Myrna. 2017. Before All Memory Is Lost: Women’s Voices from the Holocaust. Toronto: The Azrieli Foundation.
Grossman, Ibolya and Andy Réti. 2016. Stronger Together. Toronto: The Azrieli Foundation.
Hirschprung, Rabbi Pinchas. 2016. The Vale of Tears. Toronto: The Azrieli Foundation.
Jockel, Helena. 2014. We Sang in Hushed Voices. Toronto: The Azrieli Foundation.
Klein, Eddie. 2016. Inside the Walls. Toronto: The Azrieli Foundation.
Kutz, Michael. 2013. If, By Miracle. Toronto: The Azrieli Foundation.
Leipciger, Nate. 2015. The Weight of Freedom. Toronto: The Azrieli Foundation.
Levin, Alex. 2012. Under the Yellow and Red Stars. Toronto: The Azrieli Foundation.
Mann, Fred. 2009. A Drastic Turn of Destiny. Toronto: The Azrieli Foundation.
Mason, Michael. 2015. A Name Unbroken. Toronto: The Azrieli Foundation.
Meisels, Leslie. 2015. Suddenly the Shadow Fell. Toronto: The Azrieli Foundation.
Molnár Hegedűs, Anna. 2014. As the Lilacs Bloomed. Toronto: The Azrieli Foundation.
Myers, Muguette. 2015. Where Courage Lies. Toronto: The Azrieli Foundation.
Newman, David. 2015. Hope’s Reprise. Toronto: The Azrieli Foundation.
Ney, Arthur. 2015. W Hour. Toronto: The Azrieli Foundation.
Opatowski, Felix. 2015. Gatehouse to Hell. Toronto: The Azrieli Foundation.
Rakitova, Maya. 2016. Behind the Red Cutain. Toronto: The Azrieli Foundation.
Reinhartz, Henia. 2007. Bits and Pieces. Toronto: The Azrieli Foundation.
Rich, Betty. 2012. Little Girl Lost. Toronto: The Azrieli Foundation.
Rips, Paul-Henry. 2014. E/96: Fate Undecided. Toronto: The Azrieli Foundation.
Rotschild, Steve. 2014. Traces of What Was. Toronto: The Azrieli Foundation.
Salsberg, Kitty and Ellen Foster. 2015. Never Far Apart. Toronto: The Azrieli Foundation.
Sermer, Zuzana. 2012. Survival Kit. Toronto: The Azrieli Foundation.
Shtibel, Rachel and Adam Shitbel. 2015. The Violin / A Child’s Testimony. Toronto: The Azrieli Foundation.
Solan, Gerta. 2014. My Heart Is At Ease. Toronto: The Azrieli Foundation.
Stern, George.2013. Vanished Boyhood. Toronto: The Azrieli Foundation.
Sterner, Willie. 2012. The Shadows Behind Me. Toronto: The Azrieli Foundation.
Szedlecki, Ann. 2009. Album of My Life. Toronto: The Azrieli Foundation.
Tannenzapf, William and Renate Krakauer. 2009. Memories from the Abyss / But I Had a Happy Childhood. Toronto: The Azrieli Foundation.
Thon, Elsa. 2013. If Only It Were Fiction. Toronto: The Azrieli Foundation.
Tomasov, Agnes. 2010. From Generation to Generation. Toronto: The Azrieli Foundation.
Vertes, Leslie. 2015. Alone in the Storm. Toronto: The Azrieli Foundation.
Voticky, Anka. 2012. Knocking on Every Door. Toronto: The Azrieli Foundation.
Research Funded by the Government of Canada through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC)
Ani, Philip. 2015. Intimate violence: the logic of communal Genocide during the Holocaust.
Belfon, David. 2011-2014. New Canadian perspectives on Haredi Holocaust theology. University of Toronto.
Bell, Rachael D. 2012. Living among the enemy: Jewish Holocaust survivors in post-war Germany. University of Western Ontario.
Bergen, Doris L. 2011-2014. Hitler’s chosen people: defining ethnic Germans in World War II and the Holocaust. University of Toronto.
Bergen, Doris L. 2015-2016. Between God and Hitler: military chaplains in Nazi Germany. University of Toronto.
Chalmers, Jason. 2011. Holocaust memorials as sacred space in contemporary Judaism. University of Ottawa.
Corazza, Stephanie N. 2011-2012. The diaspora of European Jewish child refugees: a comparison of British and American politics and popular opinion, 1934-1945. University of Toronto.
Debenham, Enid Jory. 2014-2016. Musical codes from the Terezin concentration camp.
Drake, Laurie. 2012-2013. Remembering resistance and choice: Jewish survival in France during the Second World War. University of Toronto.
Fagen, Erica R. 2014-2015. From the television documentary to the iPhone: narrating Holocaust memory from the analogue to the digital age, 1979-2012.
Finkleman, Ilana S. 2011. Second and third generation Holocaust memory: constructing a Canadian Holocaust legacy. University of British Columbia.
Fournier, Patrick. 2011-2012. La dénonciation des Juifs à Paris pendant l’occupation allemande, 1940-1944. University of Ottawa.
Frydel, Tomasz. 2013-2015. The Role of the Polish “Blue” Police in the Destruction of Jews, 1939-1945: A Case Study of the Rzeszow Region. University of Toronto.
Grabowski, Jan. 2011-2013. Aryanisation: the theft of Jewish property in occupied Poland Generalgouvernment, 1939-1945. University of Ottawa.
Grabowski, Jan. 2013-2014. Jewish survival strategies: Poland 1942-1945. University of Ottawa.
Hajikova, Anna. 2011-2012. The inmate society of Terezin: a laboratory of the middle class, social history of the Terezin transit ghetto. University of Toronto.
Himka, John-Paul. 2011. Ukrainians and the Holocaust in history and memory. University of Alberta.
Kerr-Lapsley, Sarah Jane. 2015. Teaching genocide and human rights: towards a comprehensive understanding of non-formal Canadian Holocaust education. McGill University.
Kubow, Magdalena. 2011-2012. Policies of inaction: the role of purposeful passivity during the Holocaust. University of Western Ontario.
Lavallée, Pascal-Anne. 2012-2013. Le montage comme révélation : les films et les installations vidéo de Harun Farocki face à la question de l’Holocauste. Université de Montréal.
Lee, Yoonhee. 2012. Beyond antifacism: Holocaust memory and the Nazi past in East Germany. University of Toronto.
Little, Katherine E. 2014-2015. Failed justice: a study of war criminal Laszlo Csatary and Canada’s failure to bring him to justice. Nipissing University.
Margolis, Rebecca E. 2013-2015. Cultural transmission after catastrophe: Yiddish in Canada after the Holocaust. University of Ottawa.
McPherson, Alexander. 2014-2015. After the star: Jewish youth refugees in occupied Germany, 1945-1948. Trent University
Nesbitt, Shawntelle L. 2015. Intergenerational Holocaust education: shifting narrative agency for third and fourth generation educators and students. York University.
Neufeld, Jonathan. 2013-2014. The survival of Jews in Albania during the Holocaust. University of Toronto.
Neuman, Gdalit-Aviella. 2015. The dance of victory: Hungarian child Holocaust survivors dance their way of freedom in 1946. York University.
Polesky, Jamie. 2013-2014. The Holocaust and popular culture: understanding the Holocaust through emotional media. Nipissing University.
Rowe-McCulloch, Maris K. 2014-2015. Mass murder in a city under siege: occupation and the Holocaust in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don. University of Toronto.
Sheftel, Anna. 2013-2014. Holocaust Memory and Socioeconomic Inequality: Life Stories of Montreal Survivors from Atrocity to Poverty. Saint Paul University.
Thorson, Helga M. 2014-2015. Global connections: critical Holocaust education in a time of transition. University of Victoria.
Tremblay-Sher, Myriam. 2011-2012. Teaching trauma history: how can documentary film bring the Holocaust to the youtube generation. Concordia University.
van Pelt, Robert-Jan. 2015-2016. The evidence room: Auschwitz and forensic architecture in the courtroom. University of Waterloo.
Weiser, Keith. 2014-2015. Re-conceiving Key Terminology and Concepts in Antisemitism Studies. York University.
Wood, Natasha T. 2012-2013. Hitler is a bully: a study of Holocaust education in B.C. schools. University of Victoria.
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