“Our commitment must be to remember the victims who perished, respect the survivors still with us, and reaffirm humanity's common aspiration for mutual understanding and justice.”
-- Declaration of the Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust
Canada became the 27th member of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) on June 24, 2009 in Oslo, Norway. While Canada did not directly experience the Holocaust, it was affected in many ways by the tragedy. Canada’s restrictive immigration policies at the time largely closed the door on Jews seeking to flee Europe. This included 937 Jewish passengers of the M.S. St. Louis, who were refused entry into Canada, and many subsequently died in the Holocaust. As a result of Canada’s wartime policies, nearly 2,300 mostly Jewish refugees from Austria and Germany were interned as “enemy aliens” in camps across Canada between 1940 and 1943.
The Canadian experience of the Holocaust was also one of resilience and hope. In April 1945, Canadian forces liberated the Westerbork Transit Camp in the Netherlands, including 900 Dutch Jews who were still interned there. As a nation, Canada has also been profoundly shaped by approximately 40,000 Holocaust survivors, who resettled across the country after the war. Today, Canadians remember the Holocaust, commemorate its victims, and renew the commitment to fight against racism, discrimination and antisemitism.
Canada has invested significantly in Holocaust education, remembrance and research. This includes:
•$2.5 million for Jewish Community Historical Recognition Projects;
• National Holocaust Monument; and
In conjunction with the IHRA Chair Year in 2013-14, Canada is supporting several new initiatives to increase understanding of the Holocaust across the country. Initiatives are being developed with the support of government and community partners, including an advisory council, co-chaired by IHRA Chair Dr. Mario Silva and Senator Linda Frum. Announcements will be made throughout the Chair year. For further information, on Canada and the Holocaust, please visit: www.cic.gc.ca/holocaust
In Canada, provincial and territorial governments are responsible for all aspects of education. Teaching about the Holocaust reaches all students, as it is part of mandatory courses (social studies and/or history curriculum, and sometimes English language arts). In 2008, as part of its application for membership in the IHRA, Canada prepared a baseline study (PDF, 674 Kb) outlining Holocaust education in Canadian schools. In 2013, CIC will present a one-time Teacher Award of $5,000 to recognize excellence in Holocaust education.
In the 1980s, a number of groups and organizations in Canada began to record the testimonies of Holocaust survivors for future generations. The Government is working with the community to find ways to preserve survivor testimony as an invaluable tool for Holocaust education. For more information about Canadian collections, please visit: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/multiculturalism/holocaust/testimony.asp
Holocaust Education Centres
There are four major Holocaust education centres in Canada: in Montréal (Montréal Holocaust Memorial Centre, www.mhmc.ca), Toronto (Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre, www.holocaustcentre.com), Winnipeg (Freeman Family Foundation Holocaust Education Centre, www.jhcwc.org/fffhec.htm) and Vancouver (Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre, www.vhec.org).
In addition, there are many other organizations that provide Holocaust education, including:
Abbotsford Community Services (www.abbotsfordcommunityservices.com)
Asper Foundation (www.asperfoundation.com)
Atlantic Jewish Council (www.theajc.ns.ca)
Azrieli Foundation (www.azrielifoundation.org/memoirs)
B'Nai Brith Canada (www.bnaibrith.ca)
Calgary Jewish Community Council (www.jewishcalgary.org )
Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (www.cjc.ca)
Canadian Society for Yad Vashem (www.yadvashem.ca)
Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre for Holocaust Studies (www.fswc.ca)
Facing History, Facing Ourselves (http://www.facinghistory.org/offices/toronto)
General Romeo Dallaire Genocide Institute
Holocaust Awareness Committee, Jewish Federation of Winnipeg
Israel Experience Centre, Asper Jewish Community Campus
Jewish Federation of Edmonton ( www.jewishedmonton.org)
Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada ( www.jhcwc.org)
Kamloops Cariboo Regional Immigrant Society (www.immigrantservices.ca)
Kleinmann Family Foundation (www.kffeducation.org)
Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan, Inc. (http://mcos.ca/)
Okanagan Jewish Community (www.ojcc.ca)
Saint John Jewish Historical Museum
Victoria Holocaust Remembrance and Education Society (http://victoriahres.org/)
Winnipeg Foundation (www.wpgfdn.org )
Raoul Wallenberg Day — January 17
In 2002, Parliament declared January 17 as Raoul Wallenberg Day, celebrated annually on the anniversary of his disappearance. On January 17, 2013, Canada Post released a stamp in recognition of his courage. In 1985, he was made Canada’s first honorary citizen.
International Holocaust Remembrance Day — January 27
Governments, universities and NGOs mark this day with official statements and events across the country.
Yom HaShoah – April/May
Israel’s day of commemoration of the Holocaust is celebrated every spring on the 27th day of the Hebrew Calendar. A commemorative ceremony for politicians, dignitaries, Holocaust survivors and members of the public is held in Ottawa.
Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21
Includes an online gallery of stories from Jewish war orphans who came to Canada following the end of the Second World War.
Canadian Museum for Human Rights
Scheduled to open in Winnipeg in 2014 with 12 permanent galleries, covering a wide range of issues, including human rights, mass atrocities and the Holocaust.
Canadian War Museum
The museum’s “Forged in Fire” gallery includes information on Canada’s role in liberating the Bergen-Belsen Nazi concentration camp.
Virtual Museum of Canada
Contains exhibits about the Second World War and the Holocaust.
In 2013, two Canadian exhibitions examining Canada’s actions toward Jews during the Holocaust will be displayed in communities across Canada:
•The Atlantic Jewish Council exhibit on the M.S. St. Louis; and
•The Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre’s exhibit on the internment of Jews in Canada; also available on the Virtual Museum of Canada.
National Holocaust Monument
The National Holocaust Monument will be constructed in the National Capital Region. It will serve as a permanent reminder for Canadians of all faiths to stand together against intolerance and hatred.
Wheel of Conscience
The Wheel of Conscience monument is a tribute to the 937 Jewish passengers of the M.S. St. Louis. They were refused entry into Canada in 1939 and many subsequently died.
Holds official government records relating to the Holocaust, as well as private records donated by individuals or organizations.
Serious research and study of the Holocaust began in the 1970s in Canada. At that time, many academics began incorporating research on the Holocaust into a variety of fields of study at educational institutions. Canada has a number of exceptional researchers and scholars in the field of Holocaust Studies. An Academic Conference, New Scholars, New Research on the Holocaust, will take place October 6–7, 2013 at the University of Toronto, in conjunction with IHRA meetings, October 8-10, 2013.
Carleton University’s Max and Tessie Zelikovitz Centre for Jewish Studies
McMaster University's Resistance Collection
University of Toronto - Chancellor Rose and Ray Wolfe Chair in Holocaust Studies
Nazi Germany, Canadian Responses: Confronting Antisemitism in the Shadow of War
Prominent scholars consider Canada's immigration policies and anti-Semitism during the Holocaust in this collection of essays published in May 2012 with funding assistance from the Government of Canada (CIC).
Research on Holocaust-era Artworks
In partnership with six Canadian museums, the Canadian Art Museum Directors Organization is undertaking research and developing best-practice guidelines to help the Canadian museum community address the issue of Nazi-looted art.
Canadian Heritage Information Network
Includes information from Canadian museums and art galleries on the provenance of objects in their collections. It is an important tool for researchers and heirs around the world who are trying to identify and locate artworks and other cultural material lost during the Holocaust.
National Gallery of Canada Provenance Research
The National Gallery is committed to researching works in its collection that were purchased, sold or created during the Nazi period and have an unknown provenance.
Max Stern Art Restitution Project
The Max Stern Art Restitution Project is led by Concordia University. Acting on behalf of the executors of the estate of Max Stern, it seeks the restitution of Stern’s art holdings that were confiscated or sold by force in Nazi Germany. It is one of the most recognized art restitution efforts in the world.