Edmonton’s Holocaust education symposium to be held in person this year

'Vessel of Souls' - Edmonton's Monument to remember the atrocities of the Holocaust - by sculptor Susan Owen Kagan stands tall at the Alberta Legislature Grounds. (Photo supplied)

by Tammy Vineberg

(AJNews) – Holocaust education has always been a core focus of the Jewish Federation of Edmonton and, historically, the annual Dianne and Irving Kipnes Holocaust Education Symposium has been a key program to reach high school students from across the city. The pandemic necessitated a shift from an in-person experience to a virtual symposium for the last three years. The Federation is finally ready to offer it in-person again. This year the symposium will be held in the Muttart Theatre at the Stanley A. Milner branch of the Edmonton Public Library (EPL) on May 9 and 10.

The half day program is offered to Grade 11 and 12 social studies classes and is expected to have 500 students registered. The Federation is partnering with EPL as part of its ongoing partnership that focuses on Holocaust and human rights education.

Another partner is Azrieli Foundation, an important institution in Holocaust education across Canada, who will be bringing a Holocaust survivor to speak to the students. The foundation will also provide a copy of this survivor’s memoir to all attendees that students will use to prepare for the interactive part of the survivor testimony.

Prior to COVID-19, the symposium was offered to high school students over two days. The program has taken place for over 25 years to supplement the Alberta Education curriculum, which does not formally include the Holocaust. The Federation is pleased to continue this important function of ensuring that Holocaust education is accessible to students in the public school system in Edmonton and surrounding areas.

Like Dr. Eva Olsson and Rene Goldman, two survivors who have participated in this program in the past, this year’s survivor speaker will also share a personal story, helping students to understand the impact of the Holocaust through testimony. Elie Weisel famously said, “Whoever listens to a witness, becomes a witness.”

“With the aging of our precious Holocaust survivors and Holocaust distortion and denial becoming more prevalent, it is more important than ever for students to hear this testimony,” says Jenn Magalnick, the Federation’s associate director of Holocaust education and community engagement.

To learn more about Holocaust education and resources for Edmonton and area junior high and high schools, contact holocaustedu@edjfed.org.

Tammy Vineberg is Associate Director, Marketing and Communications, Jewish Federation of Edmonton.

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