KAWARTHA LAKES- The Ontario government has announced new investments and resources to combat antisemitism in schools and communities across the province after a study commissioned by the Canadian Charity Liberation75 found a third of Canadian students questioned whether the Holocaust actually happened.
Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
In 2019, Statistics Canada found police-reported hate crimes against Jewish people accounted for the highest number of religion-based hate crime in Canada. According to Statistics Canada, in 2020, there were 321 police-reported incidents targeting the Jewish population in Canada. This is a five per cent increase from the 306 police-reported hate crimes in 2019 against Jewish people.
The problem of antisemitism was underscored by the B’nai Brith Canada 2020 Audit of Antisemitic Incidents which reported a record number of antisemitism cases in 2020, up 18.3 per cent from 2019. This trend has been exacerbated since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, as Ahmed Shaheed, UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, noted that antisemitic hate speech has increased alarmingly since the start. In 2020, over 44 per cent of antisemitic violence was COVID-related, including incidents of Jewish people being spat on and assaulted with weapons.
As part of the province’s plan the Ontario government is investing almost $300,000 to partner with the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs and the Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies.
- $148,000 to the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies to create a collection of bilingual classroom resources and programming that will introduce students to the topic of antisemitism and ways to recognize and address antisemitism. This will include workshops and webinars for students and parents.
- $150,000 to the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) to develop bilingual classroom resources, targeted at students in grades 5-8, on the dangers of antisemitism. Parent resources will also be developed on how antisemitism manifests on social media and online gaming.
“Over the past months, we have observed a disturbing increase of hate crimes targeting Jewish students, families, and synagogues,” said Minister Lecce. “We must fulfill our collective responsibility to acknowledge and decisively combat antisemitism. To ensure that students learn from history so not to repeat it, we are delivering new resources, training, and tools to eliminate this hateful reality from the classroom and hearts of students, staff, and communities.”
The funding announced today is part of the Ontario government’s Priorities and Partnerships Funding (PPF) COVID-19 Equity Supports.