Ontario Is Making Holocaust Education Mandatory For Younger Students & It Starts Next Year

"Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

Ontario Editor
Rows of desks in an empty classroom.

Rows of desks in an empty classroom.

The Ford government has introduced new mandatory holocaust education in Ontario elementary schools in an effort to combat rising trends of antisemitism and hate.

The announcement was made by Education Minister Stephen Lecce Wednesday as a way of marking Holocaust Education Week.

“We are taking action to counter antisemitism and hate, because those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it,” Lecce said in a press release. “With antisemitism on the rise, we are introducing mandatory Holocaust education in elementary schools, expanding resources and strengthening anti-hate training for Ontario students, educators, and families.”

The mandatory education program will begin September 2023 for students in Grade 6 social studies to "help challenge biases and discrimination at an earlier age."

Up until now, mandatory learning about the Holocaust was introduced as part of a standard Canadian History Since World War I course, taught in Grade 10.

In its announcement, the province referred to data showing antisemitic events have been on the rise.

During the 2021-22 school year, the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) recorded more than 50 incidents involving antisemitic hate symbols. A study by Western University and Liberation75 in 2021 also found 42% of students have unequivocally witnessed an antisemitic event, while one in three students believe the Holocaust was fabricated, exaggerated or are unsure if it actually happened.

The prevalence of antisemitism is part of a worldwide problem, one that's received more attention lately following antisemitic comments made by Kanye West and the pushback that has since followed.

"Recent studies amongst Canadian youth have revealed an overwhelming lack of knowledge about the history of the Holocaust, the ultimate example of what happens when hate is left unchecked," said Michael Levitt, the President and CEO of Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies. "We commend the Ontario Ministry of Education for taking this monumental step in ensuring that the lessons from the Holocaust and the legacy of survivors are never forgotten."

Alongside the new mandatory education in elementary schools, the province said it will work with the Ontario College of Teachers to develop their professional learning on the topic.

This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

Stuart McGinn
Ontario Editor
Stuart McGinn is Narcity’s Ontario Editor and focuses mainly on covering major provincial and local news stories across the province. Stuart is from Ottawa and is now based in Toronto.
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