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Tour for Humanity stops in Winnipeg, students learn about hate crimes

This Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, high school students in Winnipeg boarded a bus to learn about human rights.

Monday, a 30-seat mobile education centre called The Tour for Humanity was in the city to teach teens about hate and intolerance in Canada, using the Holocaust as its launching point.

“We need to make some connections between history and then also some of the problems we’re dealing with today in terms of hate crimes,” said Elena Kingsbury, the workshop educator.

“In all of our programing, we use the Holocaust kind of as a foundation for the conversation around human rights. We’re inspired by Simon Wiesenthal, our namesake, who was both a Holocaust survivor and someone who fought for justice in the post-war period.”

Kingsbury’s presentation also discussed residential schools, Japanese internment camps, and the use of Chinese labour to build the Canadian Pacific Railway.

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She said what is considered “of the past” is not exactly so.

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“History is not just something that’s sitting in the past, in isolation. It does impact us today. We see even the history of the Holocaust reflected in social media and the way people, you know, share certain ideas in online spaces. A lot of that is tied to our history.

“So, yeah, I think that it’s just valuable for all people to understand that connection between the past and present,” she said.

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During the presentation, Kingsbury noted that 23 per cent of people accused of hate crimes are between 12 and 17 years old.

“It’s not something that I think is about young people being bad or anything like that. But, I do think that it’s really important that we are talking about these issues with students directly. We need to create opportunities for students to have conversations… (and) if they have questions, that they can ask them and engage,” she said.

Already, the educator said there have been meaningful discussions around human rights concerns during the workshops, and looks forward to having those continued.

On Monday, the Manitoba government also announced that Holocaust education will be a mandatory part of the province’s K-11 social studies curriculum come September.

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“Holocaust education is crucial not only for remembering the past but for safeguarding our future,” said Jeff Lieberman, the chief executive officer for the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg.

“By learning about the horrors of the Holocaust, young people in Manitoba will be empowered to stand up against antisemitism and hatred in all its forms, ensuring that ‘never again’ is a promise kept for all generations,” he said.

Click to play video: 'Winnipeggers reflect on Holocaust Remembrance Day, ‘to ensure those stories are preserved’'

Winnipeggers reflect on Holocaust Remembrance Day, ‘to ensure those stories are preserved’

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