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Mandatory learning of Holocaust history coming to Ontario

By Adam Riley Nov 3, 2023 | 8:42 AM

Starting in the fall of 2025 it will be mandatory for Grade 10 students to learn about the Holocaust.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce made the announcement Wednesday along with a $650,000 investment in community partnerships for student resources and training.

“By including new mandatory learning in Holocaust education in elementary and secondary schools, we are ensuring students are never bystanders in the face of hate and division. We will ensure that ‘Never Again’ is our legacy to the next generation, as we safeguard and promote those fundamental Canadian values of democracy, freedom, civility and respect.”

The compulsory course will build on the current history curriculum and explicitly link the Holocaust to extreme political ideologies, including fascism, antisemitism in Canada during the 1930’s and 40’s and the contemporary impacts of rising antisemitism.

It complements new mandatory learning included in Grade 6 Social Studies on the significance of the Holocaust. Allowing them to identify, respond to and change harmful assumptions and stereotypes.

Supports being funded include:

  • Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies to create an Antisemitism Classroom Toolkit curriculum resource for Grades 5 to 8 and a training workshop for teachers on how to teach students about the Holocaust
  • the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs to continue their work on a resource hub for educators and parents to learn about, identify and take action to address antisemitism
  • Liberation75 to provide Holocaust and antisemitism education resources/supports for educators and students, as well as an online teacher resource to support Grade 6 Holocaust education
  • the Canadian Society for Yad Vashem to provide teaching materials related to the story of the MS St. Louis, a ship carrying Jewish Germans fleeing Nazi Germany to Cuba in 1939
  • UJA Federation of Greater Toronto’s Holocaust Museum to create virtual and in-person tours for teachers and other Holocaust-related resources

This comes as a wave of increased antisemitism hits the country, in 2021 Stats Canada found police reported hate crimes targeting the Jewish religion were up 47 percent over the previous year, and despite making up only one percent of the population, Jewish Canadians were victims of 14 percent of all reported hate crimes that same year.

Another survey conducted by Liberation75 found one in three teenagers in Canada and the United States think the Holocaust was fabricated, exaggerated or are unsure it actually happened.