Here's what the Education Department at Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies (FSWC) accomplished during the 2021-2022 school year.
A Year in Review
The 2021-2022 school year has been another record year for the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies (FSWC) education department. We have reached new provinces with programming, created meaningful learning experiences for students in both virtual and in-person platforms, and added new programs to our menu of educational tools.
More Than 22,300 Students Educated in 8 Provinces
The FSWC education team continued to expand our reach with student programming across Canada, working with more than 22,300 elementary and high school students and teachers in eight provinces this year: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.
While we did respond to a stream of antisemitic incidents in schools across Canada, we were met with teachers and students who had open minds and a willingness to learn. For instance, a North Bay school brought the FSWC education team in to work with teachers and students, providing them with information about the history of antisemitism and the Holocaust, along with tools to address hate and intolerance when they see it happening. This training included powerful testimony from five Holocaust survivors presented to every single student in grades 7-12.
Positive Feedback from Teachers
All of our programs - whether reactive to an incident or simply being invited into a classroom to proactively present important discussions about racism, antisemitism, the Holocaust and genocide - were met with positive feedback from teachers and students alike. Some of the comments we received include:
I wanted to follow up with you on the presentation we had on "Roots of Hate & Intolerance". It was a wonderful presentation filled with important examples of discrimination against a variety of different groups of people. The presenter did an incredible job facilitating online, pausing to ask questions throughout, which kept the students engaged. She also spoke very well and responded to students' thinking with care and patience.
Thank you so much for yesterday – the kids and I learned so much and they had a great discussion afterwards. Two of my students have actually chosen Genocide as their speech topic after yesterday!
Thank you for such an enlightening and accurate presentation. The truth is not always easy to hear but needs to be told regardless. You shed a much-needed bright light on the tragedies of precious Roma people, who to this day still very much feel the negative repercussions of their genocide. You helped give our Roma students and parents a voice.
New Programs Developed
There were a number of new programs that were created this year for both students - including a workshop on the persecution of the Roma and Sinti people during the Holocaust - as well as for our adult audiences. Our partnership with the Mimouna Association, a Morocco-based organization, led to the creation of four new programs on the Holocaust, antisemitism and genocide that were presented to Moroccan teachers.
Plans for the 2022-2023 school year are already underway. We look forward to sharing exciting details later this summer!
Tour for Humanity: Notes from the Road
When we began looking ahead at the 2021-2022 school year, it was late August, and while schools were cautiously going back to in-person learning, we had no way of knowing what the coming months would look like for the Tour for Humanity, FSWC's mobile human rights education centre.
The fall months proved to be a challenge, with schools weary to book outside programming. We had our first taste of in-person teaching thanks to the Halton Regional Police Service and its youth PEACE program in November. Schools in Toronto and Brampton quickly followed. By December, Ontario was in the midst of the third wave of COVID-19, and the winter months began to look quite different. As the province made its way out of the pandemic, we saw an immediate increase in demand.
By March, the bus was back on the road an average of three days per week, which increased to four to five days per week from April to June. We were overjoyed to visit schools in Toronto, Thornhill, Mississauga and Newmarket as well as a multi-day trip to Huron County on Ontario’s western coast.
We are thrilled by the impending arrival of Tour for Humanity II, which will be ready to visit schools at the beginning of the new school year. Tour for Humanity Director Daniella Lurion went down to view the progress at the Ohio manufacturing plant in April.
We anticipate having both buses running simultaneously countrywide in the fall!