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Mobile classroom explores world genocide with secondary students

Genocide is a hard topic.

At the secondary level, teachers have the challenge of navigating through sensitive content in order to educate students on horrific injustices that affected millions of helpless individuals.

To help support this curriculum, Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies created a Tour for Humanity mobile classroom that visits schools to help initiate discussion on critical human rights issues and wade through tough subject matter in a safe environment.

Beginning in February, the Tour for Humanity bus made its way to each secondary school within the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board, with its final stop at St. Mary Catholic Secondary.

"The Tour For Humanity Lesson gave students more than an overview of multiple genocides, it highlighted the role of governments, policies and ordinary citizens in the crime of Genocide," said Department Head, Canadian and World Studies Tobi Hawthorne.

"The presentation challenged students to evaluate the true meaning and degree of success in the often quoted phrase 'Never Again.' If society can understand the causes and readily recognizable stages of genocide, it must be within our power to prevent them."

While most students associate genocide with the Holocaust, Tour for Humanity Education Associate Daniella Lurion pointed out that there have been other significant genocides, even in Canada, referring to Residential schools that aimed to destroy Indigenous cultures.

As a takeaway, Hawthorne hoped students would make the connection to their Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity Course which aims to understand and appreciate the primacy of the common bonds of humanity.

"They study the concepts of 'we' and 'they' in society; students come to understand that actions promoting such division lead only to intolerance – whether it be country, government or classroom."

Mobile classroom explores world genocide with secondary students