THE HISTORY OF GENOCIDE MUST BE TAUGHT
in every High School
in North America

Our Mission

The Holocaust, the genocides in Armenia, Rwanda, Cambodia and Darfur, and the cultural genocide of our First Nations peoples – the past century has proven we have not yet learned the lessons about the consequences of hate and intolerance.

The mission of The Foundation for Genocide Education is to collaborate with governments to ensure that the history of genocide and the steps leading to it are taught in high schools across Canada and the United States. We sit on a committee with the Quebec Education Ministry, which is developing a guide on teaching genocide to be used by educators in various disciplines. The government is funding this guide, along with professional workshops for teachers, and the Foundation is producing an animated video to promote the use of the guide.

We also believe that human connections are essential in transmitting the lessons of the past. When teaching topics as complex as genocide, it can be easy to cover the facts and figures and forget the humans affected by history. To offer further support to teachers, the FGE has formed a high school presentation program centred on genocide survivors’ testimonies.

Why Genocide Education Matters

Teaching and learning about the history of genocide is a powerful tool to countering hate and discrimination in the world.

Through studying this history, students can understand how racist policies divide communities and create environments that make genocide possible.  Genocide education is proven to promote critical thinking, societal awareness, and personal growth. It teaches about the warning signs that can lead to mass murder. Students learn about human behaviour and our capacity to succumb to scapegoating and propaganda. It further reveals the full range of human responses –  the individual motivations and pressures that lead people to act as they do – or do not act at all.

The Benefits of Genocide Education

Empowers students to act on and prevent future atrocities
Promotes critical thinking about extremist ideologies
Teaches how to recognize state-sanctioned prejudice and human rights violations
Increases social connection and empathy towards other cultures
Develops more informed and engaged citizens
Promotes respect for diversity

Our Roots

The Foundation for Genocide Education was created as an outgrowth of a presentation that Montreal-based educator and film producer Heidi Berger gives to high schools, community groups and symposiums throughout Canada and the U.S.

This interactive video presentation focuses on genocide and its precursors, hate and racial intolerance, using the dramatic video testimonial of her mother, Ann Kazimirski, who survived the Holocaust by hiding in barns and attics.

Despite a positive response to this presentation, Heidi discovered that large numbers of students – and educators – had little to no knowledge of genocide. Some students were graduating, not even knowing what the word genocide means!

When a teacher urged her to ‘do something about this,’ Heidi decided to create a foundation to work with the government to include genocide education as a key part of the high school history curriculum. The foundation has grown into a registered charitable organization with a staff and a team of other school presenters working to realize Heidi’s vision in Quebec and across Canada and the U.S.

Our Team

Heidi Berger

Founder and President

Heidi Berger is an award-winning film producer and professor of communications at Concordia University, based in Montreal, Quebec. She is the creator and president of The Foundation for Genocide Education.
In 2009, Heidi used her skills in film production and education to create a compelling, 50-minute interactive video presentation chronicling her late mother’s experience during the Holocaust. The presentation touches on the dangers of intolerance and racism, which can escalate into genocide.
Heidi speaks to English and French high schools, university students, community organizations and symposiums throughout Quebec, Canada and the United States. The students’ emotional reaction to genocide—and their shocking lack of knowledge on the subject— motivated Heidi to start the Foundation for Genocide Education in 2014 to educate new generations to prevent future atrocities.

Marcy Bruck

Communications and Public Relations Director

Marcy Bruck is the communications and public relations director for The Foundation for Genocide Education. A graphic designer by profession, she has worked previously in marketing and communications in the commercial sector.
She has worked for many years as a volunteer in outreach with various community organizations. Marcy is the daughter-in-law of a Holocaust survivor, and is passionate about the need for genocide education to ensure that the next generations are equipped with the knowledge and the compassion to prevent these horrors from happening again.

Macha Jauvert-Lesnenko

Director of Operations

Macha Jauvert-Lesnenko is the Director of Operations for The Foundation for Genocide Education. She holds a joint degree in Political Science and History from McGill University. During her undergraduate degree, Macha developed a passion for human rights education and advocacy, as well as mental health awareness. Her past research focused on gender and mass incarceration, Holocaust historiography, and sanctuary sites for refugees in Canada.

As the granddaughter of a child Holocaust survivor, the foundation’s mission is very personal to her. She is deeply committed to making genocide education compulsory so that the next generations develop the empathy necessary to prevent these horrors from ever happening again.

Alex Royer

Research Consultant

Alexandrine Royer is the research consultant for The Foundation for Genocide Education. She holds a Joint Honours degree in History and Anthropology from McGill University. Throughout her undergraduate degree, Alexandrine developed an acute interest in the history of genocides and a desire to advocate for the protection of cultural and religious minorities across Canada. Prior to joining the Foundation for Genocide Education, Alexandrine was a youth fellow for the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies and a member of Action Réfugiés Montreal. Her written contributions centering on human rights and the need for better genocide education have been featured in the Montreal Gazette, the Hill Times, CBC and Huffington Post Quebec. She is currently pursuing a Master's in Social Anthropology at Cambridge University.

Jane Halickman

Educational Outreach Coordinator

Jane Halickman is the educational outreach coordinator for the foundation. She has a sales background and gives tours at the Montreal Holocaust Museum. She is passionate about the need for genocide education in our high schools. Through a comprehensive genocide guide and in class genocide presentations by survivors and descendants of survivors of genocide, she wants to ensure that all students graduate high school with a good knowledge of genocide.

Irwin Cotler

Irwin Cotler is the Founder and Chair of the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights, an Emeritus Professor of Law at McGill University, former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and longtime Member of Parliament, and an international human rights lawyer. He has chaired inter-parliamentary groups for human rights in Iran and Darfur, and is a leading author of an independent report on China’s genocide against its Uyghur minority. Mr. Cotler has also been named Canada’s special envoy on preserving Holocaust remembrance and combating anti-Semitism, and recognizes the vital importance of education to prevent ignorance and intolerance.

Tommy Schnurmacher

A child of Holocaust survivors, Tommy Schnurmacher, who was born in Budapest, is an award-winning broadcaster, journalist and author. His latest book is a family memoir entitled Make-up Tips from Auschwitz. How Vanity Saved My Mother’s Life published in 2019.

Marc Elman

Marc Elman has been managing PSB Boisjoli with passion for over 15 years. Marc joined the firm in 1981, obtained his Chartered Accountant designation in 1985, and became a partner in 1988. In 1992, he earned his Chartered Business Valuator designation and has been instrumental in developing this branch of the firm’s practice. In 2015, Marc was named a Fellow of the Quebec Order of Chartered Professional Accountants, a distinction that recognizes members who have rendered outstanding services to the profession, or whose achievements in their careers or in the community have earned them distinction and brought honour to the profession.
"After Chairing a mission to Poland with 10 Holocaust survivors, where we literally stood on the ground where they were interned and their families perished, it became apparent to me that I must help educate and stand up to all forms of extreme oppression."

Moses Gashirabake

Moses holds two law degrees from McGill University and an honours degree in Political Science from Concordia University. As a result of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi of Rwanda, Moses grew up outside his country of birth. He currently works in the legal profession, is a business owner, and also sits as a board member of the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights (RWCHR) and Chairs the Rwandan Canadian Healing Centre (RCHC) board of directors.

Michael Levy

Michael Levy has run a number of companies and mentored and coached many more; he brings extensive executive management experience to the team and is actively working with the Foundation on a volunteer basis. Michael has long believed that education to overcome ignorance and intolerance is the key to building a better future.

Hrag Jinjinian

Hrag Jinjinian is a member of the executive committee of the Armenian National Committee. He is an active member of the board of The Foundation for Genocide Education, and is a strong advocate for genocide education to counter denialism. Hrag is an investment advisor with the National Bank.

Lalai Manjikian

Lalai Manjikian holds a PhD in Communication Studies from McGill University, and teaches in the Humanities Department at Vanier College in Montreal. Her grandparents are survivors of the Armenian genocide and she is interested in how the history and memory of genocide is preserved and transmitted to future generations.

Lucy Shapiro

Lucy Shapiro is a second generation Holocaust Survivor and has been involved with the FGE since 2016. She has worked with the Quebec government committee tasked to create a guide on genocide. Lucy is part of our team of presenters to high schools, describing her own parents’ stories during the Holocaust in both English and French to students in Grades 10 and 11. She has also interviewed Holocaust survivors at the Montreal Holocaust Museum for close to 10 years, and is a committee member of the Yom Hashoah Commemoration Committee for the Montreal community. Lucy is on the board of CJHSD (Canadian Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants) under the auspices of CIJA (Canada Israel Jewish Affairs). All her advocacy work is on a volunteer basis. Lucy is a real estate broker in her professional life in Montreal.

Dean Mendel

Dean Mendel is co-founder and Quebec President of Forum, a fast-growing real estate development company, specialized in neighbourhood shopping centres. He is also very involved in Jewish community life, most recently serving as Vice President of Federation CJA, co-founder and officer of Kehilla Montreal and as President of Caldwell Residences. He is also an active volunteer for MADA, Ometz and the March of the Living. His passions are focused on helping the vulnerable and deepening the connection of young people to their Jewish identity.
Dean is a new board member of The Foundation for Genocide Education. His mother is a Holocaust survivor and encouraged him from a young age to combat antisemitism and intolerance of any kind. He is deeply committed to educating all young people about the destructive consequences of hate, racism and xenophobia.

Irwin Tauben

Irwin Tauben, together with his father and brother, ran Almo Dante, a successful garment manufacturing and import business for forty years. A proud philanthropist and lay leader in the Jewish community of Montreal, he has served on multiple communal organizations, notably ten years as President of the Montreal chapter of the Technion. Other organizations Irwin has been involved with include Israel Bonds, CJA, YM-YWHA, the Montreal Holocaust Museum and MADA.
Irwin is the son of Holocaust survivors, and is committed to ensuring that the legacy of his parents and others who experienced the horrors of genocide is not forgotten.

Reesa Rosenfeld

Reesa Rosenfeld holds a BSW and an MBA, and is a mother of three adult children. She has a long history of volunteering and working in the Jewish community. While she is fortunate to not have any personal connections to the Holocaust, she has a very strong connection to the events in Europe during the Second World War. She has many friends whose parents are survivors and has alway felt the need to be a witness to the horrors of genocide so that the world does not forget man’s inhumanity to man.

Marvin Rosenbloom

Marvin Rosenbloom, BSc, MBA, brings years of volunteer service to the foundation. He has served on the board of the Jewish General Hospital and the Hospital Foundation, as well as on the investment committee of the Jewish Community Foundation and the executive advisory committee of Hope and Cope. Marvin is the past president of the YM-YWHA as well as past chair of YM-YWHA Board of Trustees, and is presently president of the YM-YWHA Foundation. He is past president of senior management Rosenbloom Group Inc. and former president of Hymopack Ltd.
Marvin is convinced that integrating education into the high school curriculum is our best chance to understanding hatred and the steps that lead genocide.

Kenneth Deer

Kenneth Deer is from the Bear Clan of the Mohawk Nation of the Kahnawake territory. He is an award-winning journalist, an educator and an internationally-known Indigenous rights activist. He was also an active participant in the development of the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which took 25 years to draft and was adopted in 2007 by 144 states, with the exception of Canada and four other states. He also holds an Honorary Doctorate Degree from Concordia University and was the 2010 recipient of the National Aboriginal Achievement Award.

Our Partners

I really appreciated Heidi Berger's presentation. I realized that discrimination towards the Jews didn't only happen in Europe, but also in Quebec, where I live, and it really affected me.

- AlexaGrade 10 Student

Young people need to know what can happen and be educated about the worst. Learning to stop it when we see the signs should be taught at an early age.

- Safet VukalicSurvivor of Bosian genocide

People should know that we are living the first steps of genocide in our daily lives. We are there… let us stop it.

- Jean-Claude RancourtHIgh School Teacher

Now is not the time to harden our hearts to the outside world and retreat in fear. Instead, we must push harder to teach peace and tolerance in the face of evil not only in Quebec but across Canada and the world.

- Caitlin JohnstonGrade 11 teacher in B.C.

Survivors Speak

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