Here's what the Education Department at Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies (FSWC) has been up to over the last month.
The 2022-2023 school year started on a high note with the hosting of Freedom Day, Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies' (FSWC) largest education event. After two years of virtual programming, we were thrilled to host an in-person Freedom Day in partnership with the Toronto District School Board. Northern Secondary School opened its doors for the live Freedom Day program, filling the auditorium with almost 1,000 students, while we simultaneously live-streamed the program on our FSWC YouTube channel to more than 5,000 students across Canada.
Students and teachers tuned in for a wide variety of speakers that included Speaker's Idol finalist Nevaeh Pine, musician Kairo McLean who is the youngest Juno Award winner in Canadian history, Holocaust survivor Andy Réti and students from St. Dominic Catholic Elementary School, as well as "the girl from the picture," Kim Phuc, whose image was captured in the Nobel prize-winning photo from the Vietnam War.
We continue to receive feedback about the powerful impact of Freedom Day. One of the Grade 7 classes that attended the program sent a collection of written reflections about what the students had learned from Freedom Day.
Student reflections after Freedom Day
If you were unable to join us live, you can watch the recorded Freedom Day 2022 program by clicking the video below. Be sure to mark your calendars on Wednesday, September 20 for Freedom Day 2023!
The FSWC education department has started off the school year giving numerous professional development programs to educators at all different stages of their careers. Equity Essentials, a special program for new teachers focusing on integrating equity lessons into classrooms, was delivered to a group of teacher candidates attending Brock University. These new teachers were given a framework and tools to build their lessons addressing racism, antisemitism and other forms of intolerance for their future classrooms.
Daniella Lurion and Kim Quinn, FSWC's Tour for Humanity Director and Educator respectively, also presented a series of professional development programs in September to teachers and other school board consultants in Brampton, Newmarket and Aurora. Each of these programs dealt with the history of the Holocaust and genocide and made connections to contemporary world events.
We strive to support teachers in their own personal learning along with their professional efforts to create meaningful, impactful learning opportunities in their classrooms across Canada.
The Tour for Humanity has been back on the road this past month, delivering workshops about the Holocaust, genocide and identifying different forms of hate in Canada. Students are as enthusiastic as ever, excited to be back at school and even more excited to be on the bus!
A group of Grade 6 students really stood out this month as they took the lessons they learned from the Tour for Humanity workshop and were able to apply their new knowledge to real-life situations they identified as concerning. For example, after learning about racism in the Canadian Experience program, one of the students asked if it is considered hateful or a hate crime for rappers to use racist words in their songs. We then collaborated as a class to brainstorm ideas on how we can denounce hateful lyrics in songs, such as by not listening to or buying the singer’s music, advocating for the artist to change the lyrics, educating their friends and so on. It was an incredibly powerful conversation to witness, watching students take the lead in applying what they had learned from the program.