New Holocaust exhibit focuses on personal stories of Canadians

Exhibit end date has been extended due to public interest


Reported by Rica Talay

The Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre’s new exhibit explores interactions between Canadians and Holocaust survivors during the end of the Second Word War and postwar era.

The “Canada Responds to The Holocaust 1944-45” exhibition features works and testimonies from Canadian war artists, journalists and photographers and other individuals. It is extended till May 26, instead of March 31.

Great interest from the public and school groups

According to Ilona Shulman Spaar, the education director at the centre which is located inside the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver, the reason for the extension is due to the great response from the public and more classes interested to visit the exhibition.

“Another reason is because we want to do a bit more outreach,” Spaar said. “There may be communities that we would like to invite.”

The exhibition features local connections to Vancouver featuring Dr. John F. McCreary, former head of department of pediatrics at UBC, who was a witness to the Holocaust. McCreary was present at the liberation at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

Spaar said although the centre delivers facts and figures, they try to make sure they break down the Holocaust to personal stories. “It really helps [students] to relate, it’s not just a number,” Spaar said.

Rachel Mines, English Instructor, Langara College Photo: Rica Talay

Rachel Mines, a Langara English instructor who teaches “Writing Lives” a class that allows students to work with local Holocaust survivors produce written memoirs, said it’s important for students to learn outside of the classroom so they can get a more personal perspective.

“When you take students outside of the classroom what students learn takes on I think a more personal meaning and also just a broader meaning in general.” Mines said.

Simeon Zekic a 19-year-old arts history student taking the “Writing Lives” class said the reason why it’s important to learn about the Holocaust is that it still impacts the modern day.

“I think it would be a waste to not bother to get more in depth of learning about [the Holocaust] while you still can learn about it… while we still have eyewitnesses,” Zekic said.

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