Genocide should be compulsory learning in Quebec high schools: advocate
Published Wednesday, February 10, 2016 8:04PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, February 11, 2016 7:32AM EST
A group hoping to make the study of genocide compulsory in Quebec high schools made its pitch before the National Assembly Wednesday.
“Students are graduating from grade 11 not even knowing what the word genocide means nor knowing anything about former genocides,” said Heidi Berger of The Foundation for the Compulsory Study of Genocide in Schools.
Berger regularly speaks to Quebec students about how her family was persecuted during the Holocaust – how her grandfather and uncle were killed – and about her late mother's resolve to educate young people.
“Right now a teacher does not have to teach genocide if they don't want to,” she said. “I think Quebec can set a great example by being one of the first places in Canada to make this compulsory.”
Also passionate about making genocide study compulsory is Montreal's Armenian community.
“There are many genocides but students don't understand what are the steps leading to that, so there is a big need for that,” said Aram Elagoz or the Armenian National Committee of Montreal.
The National Assembly will now study the petition and Berger has been promised a sit down with Education Minister Pierre Moreau.
Mount Royal MP Anthony Housefather spoke in the House of Commons last week in advance of Wednesday’s motion, saying, “It is essential that students across Canada be educated about all of the genocides of human history. So that never again becomes a reality.”
“I got a standing ovation from all three parties when I brought it up,” he said Wednesday.
Any eventual change would begin with grade 11 students, both in English and French schools.
“I would like to see all genocides covered, not only the Holocaust but the Armenian genocide and the Rwandan genocide,” said Berger.