On January 27, the Vancouver School District joined the World Jewish Congress (WJC) in the We Remember campaign to commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The campaign is used as a reminder that with each passing year, the number of Holocaust survivors diminishes. According to the WJC, it is likely that no survivors will remain in another 25 years. To preserve the memory of past survivors, District staff and trustees held signs with the hashtag #WeRemember. Photos were shared on social media to partake in the annual campaign.
Grade 12 students of Vancouver Technical Secondary also acknowledged the day. During their history class, they showed a screening of the film "Leo's Journey." It shares an extraordinary story about a 15-year-old boy named Leopold Lowy and his struggle to survive the notorious Twin Experiments that took place at Auschwitz-Birkenau. The District got to sit down and chat with a few of the students to hear their thoughts on the film and why they think it was important to show in class:
"The film was very impactful. You often just see a number on the page on how many people were murdered, but that doesn't really tell you their stories. I think it is important to remember not only what happened, but to remember what those people had to go through." – Lena
"The film was quite shocking to watch. After reading about the number of deaths, you can now put faces to those numbers. You can see the people crowded at the fences in the camps. It's not just a million people that died. You can see who they were and hear their stories." – Anya
"I think the film really puts things into perspective. We should always remember what happened in our history. We can't just shrug it off and try to forget about it. We have to acknowledge it and make sure it never happens again." – Dylan
"Leo's Journey" provides a rare opportunity for students to hear a first-hand, word-for-word account of a story of human experimentation in a concentration camp responsible for the death of nearly 1.1 million people. Their history teacher, Dale Martelli thought the film would be important for his class to see so that they can fully understand the process of dehumanization and find a way to properly commemorate this day in history.
On February 14's Pro-D day, there will be a conference for teachers at Vancouver Technical Secondary. The day-long conference features concurrent workshops facilitated by teachers and educators at the forefront of Holocaust education. Attendees will learn about advanced lesson plans, activities and resources supporting Holocaust education in the classroom. To register, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.