The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Perspectives on Racism:
Anti-Semitism in Canada
Realities, Remedies & Implications for Anti-Racism
Dr. Karen Mock

Anti-Racism Education Is the Key

The battle against racism and anti-Semitism will ultimately be won through increased efforts to incorporate multicultural, anti-racist, and human-rights education in our schools and to start this training as early as possible. Many school boards have race and ethnocultural equity policies on the books, but lack of in-service training of teachers and administrators often leaves staff powerless in knowing how to handle incidents of racism, and may even result in the staff being as much part of the problem as part of the solution. There is a need for education and awareness at every level of the educational system, from early childhood through post-secondary, from teachers' federations to the ministries and departments of education. Students must be helped to standup to racism instead of being either victims or perpetrators of harassment. Teachers must be given the skills to identify and handle expressions of racism and to develop a curriculum that is both pro- active and anti-racist. We must turn Holocaust denial into Holocaust education, and cries of 'reverse discrimination' into advocacy for organizational change, employment, and educational equity.

Through human-rights and anti-racism workshops, the League has seen children's behaviour change; its Student Human Rights Achievement Awards have demonstrated what they are capable of understanding. Organizations are clearly grappling with change through policy development and implementation. The effective leadership of dedicated principals, teachers, managers, and workers is evident. But there has also been tremendous resistance and backlash. We have a long way to go.

But there is room for optimism Recently the Ontario Anti- Racism Secretariat of the Ministry of Citizenship declared unequivocally that anti-Semitism is on its agenda. The Secretariat is increasing its networking efforts with local police to monitor hate-group activity, and has published the League for Human Right's 'Combatting Hate' guidelines on actions to be taken against racism and anti-Semitism, along with the League's Incident Reporting Form, which is designed to encourage groups to work together and to come forward without fear to report racist and anti-Semitic incidents.

The Department of Immigration has recently prevented the notorious Holocaust denier, David Irving from entering Canada for his annual hate-promoting tour. The Solicitor- General has issued guidelines for gathering statistics on racially motivated crime, and policing services across Canada are creating hate-crimes units to monitor such crimes, assist victims appropriately, and conduct public education in schools, on campus, and throughout communities. The Ontario minister of education agreed to thoroughly investigate Paul Fromm - a known white supremacist and neo- Nazi who has hurled racial slurs against Aboriginal peoples at public meetings, whose hero is Hitler (he has celebrated his birthday at a meeting of the Heritage Front), and who continues to teach history and English for the Peel Board of Education (though he has been taken from the regular classroom and placed in adult education). There are signs of progress, however slow.


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