Holocaust education to be mandatory for B.C. high school students: Eby
Posted October 30, 2023 5:46 pm.
Last Updated October 31, 2023 11:52 am.
High school students in B.C. will soon receive mandatory lessons on the Holocaust, according to Premier David Eby.
In an announcement Monday evening, Eby says B.C. is committed to ensuring all students graduate with an understanding of this piece of history. He says this change will be applied through the Grade 10 social studies curriculum and will be implemented beginning in the 2025-26 school year.
Eby says by integrating these lessons into the social studies curriculum, it will be learned alongside other lessons on discriminatory policies and injustices in Canada, and around the world.
“If we really want to fight hate in this province, we really want to stand up to anti-Semitism, it’s critical that we learn from the past, because we’ve seen this movie before. And we know how threats and hate can accelerate into violent acts, and then to horrific outcomes,” he said.
Over the next couple years, Eby says important consultation will be taking place with the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre, the Jewish community and education partners.
“We are going to work with the community to ensure that the content and the approach reflects the lived experience of the (Jewish) community, including, in particular, Holocaust survivors,” he said.
B.C. is only the second province in Canada to implement mandatory Holocaust education, according to Canadian charity Liberation75. A survey it conducted found a third of North American students surveyed either don’t know what to think about the Holocaust, question that it ever happened, or believe the number of Jewish lives lost during the Holocaust has been exaggerated.
Nico Slobinsky, vice president of the pacific branch of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, says education is key for children to learn how to combat hate.
“Our community has always stood with other racialized and ethnocultural groups, because we know that an attack on one compromises the safety of all,” Slobinsky said. “This announcement allows us to share the experiences of Survivors and, by doing so, learn how to create a safe British Columbia.
Nina Krieger, executive director of the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre (VHEC), says the introduction of this curriculum builds upon more than 30 years of work by the VHEC to educate the public on the Holocaust.
“The Second World War ended 78 years ago and, each year, there are fewer Holocaust Survivors who can share their first-hand experiences and insights with students,” Krieger said. “At a time when antisemitism is once again spiking, Holocaust education is more important than ever. It is now up to us to honour Survivors’ legacies and share their lessons with future generations.”
B.C. says it’s also looking into increasing education on topics such a the destruction of Hogan’s Alley, Japanese internment and discrimination against other culturally diverse groups such as Muslim, East-Asian, Black and South-Asian communities.