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Ontario government expands Holocaust education in schools

Click to play video: 'Fighting rising antisemitism with Holocaust education'
Fighting rising antisemitism with Holocaust education
RELATED: Fighting rising antisemitism with Holocaust education – Jan 27, 2023

Ontario is planning to expand mandatory Holocaust education in Grade 10, including to add learning about contemporary impacts of rising antisemitism.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce said Wednesday it will help to combat a rise in hate.

“We’re going to strengthen education, particularly when it comes to the extreme ideologies of Nazism (and Holocaust) denialism,” he said.

“We’re going to teach about other communities that have been impacted by the Holocaust, including the LGBT (community), individuals with disabilities, the Roma.

This is important, fundamental knowledge and if we can strengthen learning on Canadian values of democracy, of freedom, of the rule of law, of human rights, I really think it’s going to go a long way to create more social cohesion in a world that is increasingly divided.”

Starting in September of 2025, the Grade 10 history course will explicitly link the Holocaust to extreme political ideologies — including fascism — antisemitism in Canada in the 1930s and 1940s, and the contemporary impacts of rising antisemitism.

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The current Grade 10 history curriculum involves learning on how the Holocaust affected Canadian society and the attitudes of people in Canada toward human rights.

Last year, the government announced mandatory learning on the Holocaust would be included in Grade 6, which includes the responses of the Canadian government to human rights violations during the Holocaust.

The rollout is being delayed to 2025 to ensure there is enough time to properly train teachers on the subject material, Lecce said.

“One of the big priorities, especially on complex sensitive issues, is how do we build capacity of educators to be allies in understanding the history and more importantly, being able to articulate it in a contemporary, impactful way for kids,” he said.

“So part of our consultations was (teachers) just want more time to learn it. This is not an easy subject at the best of times.”

The government is giving $650,000 this year to community organizations to provide resources on antisemitism and on Holocaust learning.

The Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies is getting funding to create an antisemitism classroom tool kit for Grades 5 to 8 and a training workshop for teachers. Liberation75 is set to provide Holocaust and antisemitism education resources for students and online teacher resources for Grade 6 Holocaust education.

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The Canadian Society for Yad Vashem has been tapped to provide teaching materials on MS St. Louis, a ship carrying Jewish people fleeing Nazi Germany to Cuba in 1939.

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