The Foundation for Genocide Education is the driving force behind the Quebec Education Ministry’s initiative to create a universal guide on teaching genocide.
The guide is the result of a collaboration between The Foundation for Genocide Education, the Université de Sherbrooke, the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, the Quebec Education Ministry, the Montreal Holocaust Museum, and representatives of the various communities highlighted in the guide. Lead researchers are: Sivane Hirsch, Didactic Professor of Ethics, Department of Education, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières and Sabrina Moisan, Professor of History Education, Faculty of Education, Université de Sherbrooke
This educational tool features case studies of nine significant 20th century genocides, including the cultural genocide of our First Nations, definitions of the stages leading to genocide, along with customizable teaching plans and reference materials. The interactive guide is now available in French (English to come in spring 2023) online in every high school across Quebec, reaching over 310 000 students in 800 schools. No other resource will achieve this widespread educational impact on the study of genocide. Educators from across Canada are eager to review this unique educational tool and bring it to their classrooms.
After public consultations with teachers across the province, our foundation discovered that educators struggle to tackle the topic of genocide in their classrooms. With the vast array of available material, the subject’s sensitive nature, and teachers’ time-pressed schedules, educators need an all-in-one pedagogical and historical resource on genocide education. We conveyed this information to the government. In response, the Quebec Ministry of Education engaged Professors Hirsch and Moisan to create this unique guide specifically tailored to teachers’ needs.
Significant 20th century genocides
Features (nine) significant 20th century genocides, including the Holocaust, the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, the Armenian genocide, and the cultural genocide against our First Nations. Each genocide is presented similarly, enabling teachers and students to draw comparisons between events and deepen their understanding of the genocidal process.
The guide combines the best resources on genocide education in one accessible and interactive tool. University professors, educators and community leaders have provided support and reviewed the guide. As well, training workshops will be offered to teachers to help them use the guide effectively.
The guide’s easy-to-use format allows teachers to achieve their pedagogical goals quickly. It provides an instructional video showing how the guide can be used, additional reference material for further learning and links to survivor video testimonies. Its flexible and interactive design is adaptable to several disciplines and individualized classrooms.
“I believe people should be reminded what many innocent kids, adults and elders went through.”- AlexaGrade 10 Student
“Genocide education is essential. It opens up your mind in order to have more valid opinions.”- AnthonyGrade 11 student
“The students were incredibly moved. I was absolutely undone and inspired.”- Susan FrappierHIgh School Teacher
Our school presentation program lies at the heart of The Foundation for Genocide Education. Founder Heidi Berger created the foundation in response to a presentation she gives to high school students on the Holocaust, and the precursors to genocide, hate and intolerance. Her presentation is based on her late mother Ann Kazimirski’s video testimonial and book, ‘Witness to Horror’.
Since 2010, Heidi has shown this presentation to high schools, universities, adult organizations and symposiums throughout Canada and the United States. We have since expanded our team of presenters to include more children and grandchildren of survivors from the Holocaust, along with survivors of the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, and descendants of the Armenian genocide.
Our presentations feature a 50-minute blend of video clips of a survivor’s testimonial with live explanations from the presenter that tie everything together into a cohesive and compelling story. A connection is made between past and present-day events, and advocates for education to prevent future genocides.
We know that history is best told through storytelling, with first-hand accounts being an invaluable resource for educators. These gripping and powerful testimonial presentations allow students to dive into the past, further understand genocides and develop their compassion for others.
Click here to download a copy of ‘Witness to Horror’.
WORKING WITH GOVERNMENTS
Collaborating with governments to ensure the teaching of the history of genocide in high schools is an essential part of our mission. Since 2015, we have met with provincial cabinet ministers, education ministry officials, human rights groups and anti-radicalization groups to gain their support. We also met with and received the support of former Education Minister Sebastien Proulx and current Education Minister Jean-Francois Roberge.
In February 2016, the Foundation launched a petition asking for mandatory genocide education that garnered 3,000 signatures and received a standing ovation in both the provincial and federal parliaments. Montreal City Hall on November 19, 2018, unanimously passed a motion supporting the guide and the need to systematically teach a course on genocides.
After meeting with education ministry officials in October 2017, the Foundation was invited to sit on a committee with the education ministry that has developed a comprehensive guide on genocide, along with professional workshops for teachers. The guide was written by Sivane Hirsch and Sabrina Moisan, professors at the University of Quebec at Trois-Rivières and the University of Sherbrooke, and their research team. It was launched in all high schools in Quebec in April 2022.
We are expanding our mission and the guide on genocide to other Canadian provinces and U.S. states to ensure that genocide is taught in ALL Canadian and American high schools.
The Foundation for Genocide Education has increased its educational outreach initiatives to awaken the general public to the causes, processes and warning signs of genocide. We have written opinion pieces, letters to the editors and other journalistic pieces about ongoing acts of hatred and antisemitism. Through recent meetings with Christopher Skeete, the Quebec Parliamentary Assistant to the Premier for Relations with English-Speaking Quebecers, The Foundation for Genocide Education was invited to provide anti-racism educational policy suggestions.
- Meeting with Education Minister Proulx 2016
- 75th anniversary of Liberation event January 2020
- March for Humanity 2016
- At National Assembly of Quebec 2016
- Montreal City Hall Press Conference 2018
- Heidi meets Premier Phillipe Couillard
- With current Education Minister Francois Roberge
ACTING ON CURRENT GENOCIDES
Genocide remains a present-day reality for many minority groups across the world. Our foundation seeks to be an organization that uses its voice and leads by example. We have begun to raise public consciousness regarding the atrocities perpetrated against the Uyghur community in China and the Rohingya in Myanmar through a series of webinars featuring insights from experts on human rights and stories told by the survivors of these genocides. Our work has been supported by the Montreal Institute for Genocides and Human Right Studies (MIGS) and the Raoul Wallenberg Center for Human Rights.
EXPOSING ONLINE HATE
The popularity of new social media platforms has been accompanied by a rise in online hate. Surveys have discovered:
- 81% of young Canadians witness online hate often or sometimes
- one in two Canadians identifying as visible minorities have felt attacked by hateful comments on social media
- a 900% increase in hate speech on Twitter directed towards China and the Chinese during the COVID-19 pandemic
- the circulation of conspiracy theories accusing Jews of creating and spreading COVID-19
Our foundation is actively working to eliminate hate speech and racist and discriminatory content online. Through a campaign called ‘SAY NO TO HATE ON TIK TOK‘, we aim to create awareness of videos on the popular platform that mock and denigrate the Holocaust through a series of interviews in English and French featuring Holocaust survivors reacting to these videos. Our videos are now being shared on social media, and have reached more than 20,000 viewers. We have expanded this campaign through other media outlets in order to create awareness of online hate, and to educate young viewers on the benefits of genocide education to prevent ignorance that leads to hate.
Through special events, The Foundation for Genocide Education creates both awareness of the need for genocide education, and raises much-needed funds for all of our initiatives.
We have featured speakers, world premieres of documentaries, cocktail evenings and intercultural dialogues, all in support of raising funds for our programs. On May 12, 2022, Elisha Wiesel, noted speaker and activist, and son of Nobel Prize winner and Holocaust survivor Eli Wiesel was the guest speaker at our annual fundraising evening. Future events include a conference on the trauma of genocide on survivors and their descendants.
Preventing Radicalisation through Education: June 6, 2016
An intercultural dialogue with the Muslim community of Montreal: June 16, 2017
Featuring the documentary, ‘Why the Jews?’: June 19, 2018
‘The Legacy of Paying it Forward: An Evening with Elisha Wiesel’: May 12, 2022
Montreal, QC, Canada H4P 1K4