Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), in congruence with the National Film board of Canada (NFB), has initiated a new education program to provide Canadian educators with resources for teaching the events of the Holocaust. International Holocaust Remembrance day took place on Jan. 27, the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. To commemorate the event, both the CIC and the NFB held a virtual classroom that provided Canadian educators the opportunity to learn and interact. The virtual classroom facilitated educational tools to teach Canadian students about Holocaust remembrance. On Feb. 4, another virtual classroom on the subject was broadcast in French.
Participants in the Jan. 27 virtual classroom included 30 educators from across the country, as well as instructors from the University of Manitoba, Lakehead University, and the University of Ottawa.
The virtual classrooms help educators discover innovative new approaches to teaching the events of the Holocaust and provide insight on lessons such as human rights, humanitarian intervention, citizenship ,and genocide. Amanda Lannan,from CIC said, “The Government of Canada is committed to teaching future generations the lessons of the Holocaust and to preventing future acts of genocide. Canada is proud to support Holocaust education in schools, to work to ensure that the memory of the Holocaust is never lost.”
The virtual classroom was specifically designed for educators of secondary students Grades 9–12 and for college instructors that teach material relevant to the events of the Holocaust. The events facilitated experts, such as winner of the CIC Award for Excellence in Holocaust Education Scott Masters, to answer questions raised by participating educators. The NFB also provided films and other educational meterials for participants to engage with. Following the event, Gerry Chidiac, a B.C. high school instructor from Prince George, said, “This has been amazing! I got to interact with others across the country who are teaching the same topic as I am. It was enlightening and very enriching. I am so grateful and look forward to further interactions with this amazing group of educators!”
In addition, the CIC and NFB have partnered with the Azrieli Foundation, an organization dedicated to the publication of memoirs and documentaries of Holocaust survivors who immigrated to Canada. Participants in the virtual classroom will have access to the memoirs as well.
The CIC and NFB hope to continue the virtual classroom project and will send out a survey to the participating educators. The virtual classroom has also covered topics such as education in the Canadian experience of residential schools and issues of environmental and climate change with David Suzuki.