Tour teaches lessons of tolerance
Orillia students had a chance to learn about human rights issues this week, as the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies’ Tour for Humanity rolled into town.
Grades 5 and 6 students from Couchiching Heights Public School and Monsignor Lee Catholic School entered the bus, located in the Foodland parking lot, to take part in an interactive exhibit on wheels promoting awareness of the Holocaust, anti-Semitism, residential schools and Japanese internment.
One of the overall aims of the touring exhibit is to make students realize the history of intolerance in Canada, as well as hate crimes in Canada today.
“Our overarching message is promoting human rights, promoting democratic Canadian values,” explained Elena Kingsbury, an educator with the program.
Orillia youths explore human rights/tolerance aboard Tour for Humanity
Seated in the air-conditioned calm of a heavily modified Freightliner RV, Grade 7 students from Monsignor Lee Catholic School gazed at disturbing black and white images that rolled past on a trio of projection screens.
Film clips of the Nazi-run concentration camps where six million Jews perished transported the young viewers to a place and time very different from theirs.
Shortly after, 13-year-old Walker Lazier weighed in on the experience and discussion that followed.
“It was helpful in teaching us not to be racist and teaching us the dangers of being racist or discriminating against a specific group,” Lazier said.
Classmate Nataly Morales agreed.
“So many people died just because they’re a certain group, different from others,” she said.