Before attending the Dianne and Irving Kipnes Holocaust Education Symposium in May, Carter Collier didn’t realize the magnitude of antisemitism that still prevails to this day. Carter, a Grade 11 student from Lillian Osborne High School, was familiar with Jewish holidays but not much more than that.
He decided to go on this optional half day field trip because he thought it would be an incredible experience. “I felt it would be really important to actually listen to a Holocaust survivor. The more time passes, the fewer survivors there are,” says Carter.
This year’s symposium saw over 500 students attend from three different high schools over two days at the Stanley A. Milner Library. They heard from Yoni Berrous, head of Canadian educational programs at Yad Vashem – The World Holocaust Remembrance Centre, and Holocaust survivor Marie Doduck, who wrote her memoir, A Childhood Unspoken, as part of the Azrieli Foundation’s Holocaust Survivor Memoirs Program. All students attending the symposium received a copy of the book from the Azrieli Foundation.
Carter is taking a social class this semester and his teacher delved into World War II and the Holocaust as part of the war crimes unit. “We learned extensively about the atrocities that the Nazis committed,” he says.
He only was familiar of a genocide against the Jewish people before this class. “I knew who the Nazis were but I didn’t understand the depth and maybe event not the gravity. When you actually see the statistics, it’s mindboggling. After hearing a survivor speak and seeing the statistics, it has a lot more impact,” adds Carter.
For Carter, hearing Marie’s story was a bit of shock to his system. Marie spent most of World War II as a child hiding from the Nazis and took on different identities. He says all high school students should take advantage of this field trip.
“You learn a lot and it’s an opportunity that isn’t going to be available in the future. We are the last generation who will hear these Holocaust survivors speak. Marie said, ‘You are the witness’,” says Carter.