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e-2740 (Education and training)

Initiated by Arthur Leader from ottawa, Ontario

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the House of Commons

  • The number of anti-Semitic incidents in Canada rose in 2019 to more than six incidents each day;
  • Canada has demonstrated a commitment to remembrance and Holocaust education through bilateral relationships and engagement in international organizations;
  • Holocaust education sensitizes Canadians to the role racist ideology and government propaganda played in the systematic murder of millions of Jews and other persecuted groups;
  • Holocaust education will help young Canadians understand the dangers of indifference to the oppression of others and to those sowing destructive messages of hate and racism;
  • Holocaust deniers and those who distort the true nature of the Holocaust use the Internet and online forums to spread hate and dishonour those who were persecuted and murdered by the Nazis; and
  • Fewer Holocaust survivors are able to share their knowledge and individual experience, while fewer youths are aware of the atrocities survivors witnessed and endured.
We, the undersigned, citizens and residents of Canada, call upon the House of Commons to address this national challenge that threatens and erodes the multicultural, pluralistic nature of Canadian society, and:
1. Build upon its previous investments in Holocaust education, research and remembrance initiatives;
2. Determine the current availability of Holocaust education, including content and best pedagogical practices identified by Holocaust educators across Canada;
3. Identify strategies to reach youth, especially those not in the education system, who are targeted by racist and hate propaganda online; and
4. Urgently provide funds to Canadian community organizations to preserve the testimonies of Holocaust survivors thereby educating Canadians about the destructive impact of hate and intolerance on the Charter freedoms of current and future generations.

Response by the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): ADAM VAN KOEVERDEN

The Government would like to thank the petitioners for expressing their concern regarding the rise in antisemitism and their support for Holocaust education in Canada as a means of educating Canadians about the dangers of all kinds of discrimination, including antisemitism.

Antisemitism and Holocaust denial is a truly global phenomenon, and Canada is not immune. The Holocaust was a crime against humanity unlike any other in human history and fundamentally altered how the world views and treats acts of genocide and hate.

With regard to Holocaust education, research and remembrance initiatives:

Canada has demonstrated and continues to demonstrate strong and consistent support for Holocaust education, research and remembrance. Several federal grants and contributions programs continue to make funding available in these areas. For example:

  • Over the last two years (2019-2020 and 2020-2021), the Department of Canadian Heritage has funded a number of projects through its grants and contributions programs:
  • The Multiculturalism Programs have supported nine projects with a focus on Holocaust Education and combating antisemitism for a total value of approximately $650,000;
  • Under the Anti-racism Action Program, two projects were funded: one with Concordia University’s Montreal Institute for Genocide Studies, and the other with The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA);
  • The Digital Citizen Contribution Program funded The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs’ project Spreading the Virus: Combating the Dissemination of Antisemitism through Online Disinformation; and
  • The Museum Assistance Program, under the Emergency Support Fund for Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations, part of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, provided emergency support to both the Montreal Holocaust Museum and the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre.

As well, the Federal Anti-Racism Secretariat, which coordinates federal action and drives Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy, is using the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism to ground its engagement with Jewish communities and its work to tackle antisemitism.

On November 25, 2020, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau named the Honourable Irwin Cotler as Canada’s Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combatting Antisemitism. Mr. Cotler’s mandate includes working to strengthen and promote Holocaust education, remembrance, and research in Canada and around the world as well as support advocacy and outreach efforts with Canadians, civil society, and academia to advance the implementation of the IHRA’s working definition of antisemitism across the country and its adoption internationally.

In relation to the current availability of Holocaust education, including content and best pedagogical practices identified by Holocaust educators across Canada:

Our Canadian multiculturalism policy, first established in 1971, acknowledges the freedom of all members of society to preserve, enhance and share their cultural heritage, has created an environment that is receptive to Holocaust education, not only as an historic event, but as a means of combating discrimination and promoting respect for cultural diversity. 

Through the Museums and Heritage sites, the Government of Canada is able to provide resources to educators to teach about the Holocaust.

Concerning the identification of strategies to reach youth, especially those not in the education system, who are targeted by racist and hate propaganda online:

In Canada, diversity has always been one of our greatest strengths, yet we know that a multicultural society – one that is truly open and inclusive – is always a work in progress. It demands our effort, our attention, and our care. Our Government is deeply troubled by the rise of new and resurgent forms of antisemitism and other forms of hatred and discrimination directed at minorities worldwide, rooted in a misguided belief that diversity is a threat.

While Canada recognizes the revolutionary and often positive impact of the internet and connective technologies on multiple aspects of human existence, we also acknowledge the negative impact of online hate and abuse on individuals and communities at home and around the world.

Through Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy, introduced in 2019, the Government of Canada created a new Anti-Racism Action Program (ARAP), to prioritize the funding of projects that target online hate and promote digital literacy. Twenty-one of the eighty-five projects funded under ARAP focus on addressing online hate and/or improving digital literacy, for a total amount of approximately $3.64 million in funding. The following are two examples of projects that are being funded under ARAP:

    • The Montreal Institute for Genocide Studies (Concordia University) project Canada Task Force on Online Anti-Semitism will produce recommendations to help major social media and tech companies make changes to their policies and develop new tech solutions to combat antisemitism, Holocaust denial and distortion online.
    • The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) project United Against Online Hate will develop a national coalition with numerous targeted communities to actively combat online hate, following recommendations from the study conducted by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

The Building Awareness and Changing Attitudes component of the Anti-Racism Strategy includes almost a million dollars to support Public Safety Canada, to address hate crimes and hate speech, in areas such as reporting, training and education, public awareness, media reporting, online policy research, building and synthesizing an evidence base and supporting new pilots/programs.

Through Budget 2019, the Government of Canada also invested $19.4 million in the Digital Citizen Initiative. This four-year initiative focuses on countering online disinformation, understanding the origin and spread of online disinformation, and building capacity for response to it. Funding has gone to projects focused on understanding the origins and spread of racist ideas, or online disinformation targeting of specific communities.

Further, the Digital Citizen Initiative is working to deliver on the mandate letter commitment of the Minister of Canadian Heritage to create new regulations for social media platforms to confront, manage and remove harmful content from their platforms, including hate speech. Other harmful content in scope for the regulations in development includes incitement to violence, the sexual exploitation of children, the creation or distribution of terrorist propaganda, and the sharing of non-consensual intimate images.

On the issue of the provision of funds to Canadian community organizations to preserve the testimonies of Holocaust survivors:

The Government of Canada recognizes that the ability to educate through first person Holocaust testimonies has become an increasingly rare experience. This is why in 2013, the Government provided support of approximately $800,000 for four organizations, the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre, the Montreal Holocaust Museum, the Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre, and the March of the Living, to preserve Holocaust survivors’ testimonials. The preservation of these testimonies in conjunction with the supporting pedagogical materials that were developed represents an important contribution and component for the future of Holocaust education and remembrance.

This funding for the preservation of Holocaust survivor testimony has moved Canada forward significantly in assuring the legacy of survivors who painfully recorded their stories, in developing of alternatives to in-person survivor testimony, and in accessing Holocaust history and human stories across the country.

When we look around today, as long as there is racism, antisemitism, and genocide in the world, then clearly the history of the Holocaust remains relevant and real. The Government of Canada will continue to contribute, as it always has, to efforts to remember the Holocaust, history’s most extreme example of antisemitism.

Open for signature
July 23, 2020, at 10:37 a.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
November 20, 2020, at 10:37 a.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Anita Vandenbeld (Ottawa West—Nepean)
January 27, 2021 (Petition No. 432-00442)
Government response tabled
March 12, 2021
Photo - Anita Vandenbeld
Ottawa West—Nepean
Liberal Caucus