1 in 5 Canadian youths aren’t sure what happened in the Holocaust, survey says


One in five young people in Canada either haven’t heard of the Holocaust or aren’t sure they know what it is.

That’s the conclusion from a new survey released ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Sunday. 

Historians believe the new data should be a wake-up call on how the systematic murder of six million Jews in Europe is taught in Canadian schools — and remembered more broadly. 

« One of the surprising things was the awareness gap between millennials and older respondents …it’s shocking, » said historian Naomi Azrieli, CEO of the Azrieli Foundation, the charity behind the survey.

« I think older Canadians are more likely to have known a survivor or been around in World War Two, » she told CBC News. « With each generation, it becomes less living history and more remote. »

While there are debates among historians about exactly when the Holocaust began, the mass killing of Jews in the Second World War started in 1941 with the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, according to Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, and continued until the Nazis were defeated in 1945.

Held on Jan. 27 annually following a United Nations resolution, International Holocaust Remembrance Day coincides with the day Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest complex of Nazi death camps, was liberated by Soviet forces in 1945. 

Among other points, the survey found: 

• Nearly 6 in 10 Canadians (57 per cent) said fewer people seem to care about the Holocaust than they used to.

• 15 per cent of Canadian adults and more than one fifth of Canadians under age 34 (22 per cent) haven’t heard about or are not sure if they have heard about the Holocaust.

• Nearly half of Canadian respondents (49 per cent) couldn’t name a single concentration camp. That’s roughly equal to the U.S., where 45 per cent couldn’t name one in a similar survey last year. There were over 40,000 concentration camps and ghettos in Europe during the Holocaust. 

A crew member walks toward the National Holocaust Monument before the official opening in Ottawa on Sept. 27, 2017. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

• Nearly one quarter of all Canadians (23 per cent) believe substantially fewer than six million Jews were killed (two million or fewer) during the Holocaust, while another 24 per cent were unsure of how many were killed.

• Few Canadians believe there are many neo-Nazis in Canada today, while nearly half think there are many in the U.S. In fact, on a per capita basis, the two countries have roughly the same number of neo-Nazis, Azrieli said.

Reasons for optimism

With offices in Toronto, Montreal and Israel, the Azrieli Foundation commissioned Schoen Consulting to carry out the survey based on 1,100 interviews with Canadians over age 18 in September 2018. The margin of error was three per cent. 

While Azrieli was disappointed by the lack of knowledge about the Holocaust, especially among younger Canadians, she said the survey also offered plenty reasons for optimism. 

More than 80 per cent of respondents believe all students should learn about the Holocaust in school and 85 per cent said it’s crucial to keep teaching about the Holocaust so it doesn’t happen again.

Azrieli wants to see a more comprehensive approach to how the Holocaust is taught in schools, potentially involving special professional development days for teachers to become more acquainted with its history. 

Holocaust survivor Judy Young-Drache holds a photo of her mother and father at right at her home in Ottawa on May 10, 2017. Both Irma and Gyorgy Balazs were killed in the Holocaust. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

With only around 5,000 Holocaust survivors alive in Canada today to tell their own stories about the mass killings, she said it’s more crucial than ever that schools and other institutions develop strong programs to teach the subject.

False beliefs

The need for better Holocaust education is especially intense due to rising anti-Semitic sentiment in much of the world, said Azrieli, whose family survived the Holocaust. 

In Canada, hate crimes rose to an all-time high in 2017, according to a Statistics Canada report released in November. For hate crimes based on religion, Jews were the most targeted group in Canada, with more than 300 incidents reported to police.  

Nearly one-third of survey respondents believed Canada had an open immigration policy for Jewish refugees fleeing Europe.

In fact, Canada had « one of the worst immigration records in the world » related to Jewish people, « worse than the U.S. or U.K., » Azrieli said. 

Canada allowed only 5,000 Jewish refugees into the country while allowing nearly 2,000 Nazi war criminals to immigrate to Canada after the Second World War, the Azrieli Foundation reported. 

In the 1930s and 1940s, Canadian border guards had a saying about Jewish refugees, she said: « None is too many. »

Survey respondents thought Canada had been more welcoming toward Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazis, as they considered Canada to be generally more open toward immigrants than other nations, given the country’s current policies. 

« That was a very interesting finding of this survey, » said Azrieli, « And an important indication that our own history is not well known to most Canadians. » 


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Police arrest 7 youths at Milton, Ont., school after lockdown


Police in Ontario’s Halton region say they arrested seven youths and recovered multiple weapons on Thursday afternoon amid lockdowns and security measures at three schools.

Bishop P.F. Reding Catholic Secondary School was placed under lockdown, while nearby Chris Hadfield Public School and St. Peter’s Elementary School were placed under hold and secure procedures. All security measures have now been lifted.

Officers responded to a call for assistance at around 11:30 a.m. ET from a school in Milton, Ont., a suburban town northwest of Toronto located in Halton region.

The callers said they were being chased by a group of males with a gun behind Bishop P.F. Reding school.

Police officers later located and arrested seven youths inside the school. Police recovered one knife and two firearms. One of the guns was determined to be a replica, while the other is still being examined.

Police say students and staff at all three schools are safe and uninjured.

Halton police said seven youth are in custody, but haven’t revealed information about any potential charges. (Andrew Collins/CBC)

The hold and secure procedures were put in place at the nearby schools as a precautionary measure, police said.

One of the seven arrested youths has been released, while the others remain in police custody.

Police did not reveal information about any potential charges.


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Promote expression through art: Lethbridge library encouraging youths to enter local art show – Lethbridge


The Lethbridge Public Library is encouraging youths to tap into their creative sides by putting out a call for kids to submit their artwork for an upcoming show this month.

“We want to promote emotional regulation and emotional expression and art is one of the best ways to do that,” said Ashley Northey, a children’s services assistance at the library.

Student art in Lethbridge contest raises awareness of food security issues

The call is open for all children under the age of 12 to bring their art into the library until Nov. 30. Submissions will then be displayed in the ‘kids corner’ of the library as part of the annual Art Show and Gala. The show on Dec. 29 has a theme of celebrating the public’s favourite moments from 2018, however all artwork submitted will be showcased until Jan. 5, 2019.

“A big value for us is empowering children and their families, and art is an expression that really builds confidence when you’re displaying your art and you’re proud of the things you’ve done,” said Northey.

“We’re excited to see more children explore their creative sides for this show.”

Young artists showcase their talents at a songwriters circle

After the walls overflowed with art last year, the staff hopes to see that success again this year with more submissions before the deadline hits.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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2 youths arrested in connection with Iqaluit Northmart fire


Two youths have been arrested with arson charges pending in connection with a fire that destroyed the warehouse of Iqaluit’s largest grocery store.

The fire was extinguished overnight after raging for 22 hours. No injuries were reported.

RCMP announced Friday morning in a news release that police are working with the Nunavut fire marshal’s office and have two youth in custody, with criminal charges pending for arson —​ disregard for human life.

The youth were not named in the release.

RCMP District Commander Mark Crowther said in the release that police and fire personnel « are working diligently to ensure public safety and bring those responsible to justice. »

Iqaluit’s mayor, Madeleine Redfern, tweeted early Friday that the fire at Iqaluit’s Northmart was « largely out » overnight. She said firefighters were able to save the building’s main store, though it suffered significant smoke and water damage.

« It will take time to assess and undertake the necessary repairs and replacement of the lost sections of the other buildings, » said Redfern. 

A total of six fires burned in the community Thursday, destroying Northmart’s warehouse area — where food that comes up by sealift is stored — and threatening nearby elders’ residences.

Firefighters from other Nunavut communities, including Pangnirtung and Cape Dorset, flew to Iqaluit Thursday to support local crews.

Firefighters from the communities of Pangnirtung and Cape Dorset were flown in to help fight the fire. (Kieran Oudshoorn/CBC)

After suspending delivery for the day in order to allow crews to fight the fire, Iqaluit’s trucked water services resumed Friday morning. However, Redfern says the city is still asking residents to conserve water.

The cause of the fire is not yet known. Iqaluit RCMP said they would provide a statement Friday morning.

Nutrition North may help hold down prices

The fire led to immediate concerns about food security in Nunavut’s capital city, with many concerned about where non-perishable goods would be stored and the cost in shipping them to Iqaluit.

The city’s sealift season — barges carrying food and goods for residents — recently ended, and any replacement goods will need to be flown to Iqaluit.

« I think the biggest impact that we’ll see is a whole year’s supply of dry goods, everything they brought in by sealift, is gone, » said Nunavut MP Hunter Tootoo. « Northmart is the largest retailer in Iqaluit … so all your flour, sugars, diapers, cleaning supplies, canned goods … I’m sure they had all their Christmas stock in, Easter. All that’s gone. »

Tootoo says he has spoken with both of Iqaluit’s major retailers to ensure prices remain stable in the community. Yesterday, Alex Yeo, the president of Canadian retail for the North West Company, said prices will not rise as a result of the fire.

However, federal Northern Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc says his office is looking into using the Nutrition North food subsidy program to ensure that prices remain stable. 

The wreckage of the Northmart warehouse was still smouldering Friday morning. The main store was saved, but the warehouse, which stores non-perishable goods, was destroyed. (Kieran Oudshoorn/CBC)

« I don’t want people in the North to be gouged, whether deliberately, or simply by virtue of a lack of supply, » said LeBlanc. « The price cannot be pushed up because of a circumstance like this, so we will work with the territorial government to ensure we do everything we can to make sure that doesn’t happen. »

LeBlanc said his department will work with other levels of government to ensure a stable supply of food and goods to the capital, and that the federal government has offered a military airlift to the community, if needed.

« For the moment they believe the situation is under control, and they have the resources they need, » said LeBlanc. « But we will continue to work with them. »

The fire has forced residents in nearby homes to evacuate 1:33

With files from Kieran Oudshoorn, Hannah Thibedeau and Heather Hiscox


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