Confronting Genocide: 1915-2011 is the theme of this year’s 18th annual Vanier College / Kleinmann Family Foundation Symposium on the Holocaust and Genocide. The underlying aim of the Symposium, which runs this year from April 4th to 8th, 2011, is to alert young people to discrimination, racism and genocide in their many manifestations, and to help them learn about history in order to avoid repeating mistakes of the past.
Eyewitness and first-hand accounts are often the best motivators to spark students into awareness, concern and action, and we are fortunate to have among us Holocaust survivors and one rescuer to offer their stirring personal testimonies.
A look at four atrocities
This year’s lineup also includes a remarkable new film, The Last Survivor, a feature-length documentary that focuses on the survivors of four different genocides and mass atrocities (the Holocaust, Rwanda, Darfur, and Congo) and their struggle to make sense of their tragedy by working to educate, motivate and promulgate a civic response to mass atrocity crimes.
Real life lessons
One of the main strengths of the Symposium, in the view of long-time Symposium co-ordinator and retired Vanier Humanities teacher Neil Caplan, is the way that important real-life lessons about ethical citizenship and moral courage find their way into the classroom. Participating students and teachers alike wrestle with these challenges in the context of their courses in psychology, sociology, English, French, humanities, journalism, and history.
The Symposium’s 38 events this year take place in scheduled classes; they are open to all, but seating may be limited. A complete up-to-date listing can be found online at http://www.kffeducation.org/joomla/symposia-2011/244.html or on the Vanier College Events calendar at http://www.vaniercollege.qc.ca/events-calendar/