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Published by the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation

Regina teachers studying Holocaust this summer

Posted: 07/05/17 10:11am CST
Holocaust Memorial – Berlin. Photo credit: Davide Ragusa

Four teachers with Regina Catholic high schools are heading back to the classroom this summer — and further afield — while learning about the Holocaust.

Ada Paez, who teaches history at Archbishop M.C. O’Neill High School, is among those joining a summer school course titled The Holocaust in History and Living Memory. It begins in Toronto before the group travels to Europe, where they’ll carry a personal letter by a Holocaust survivor to open while at Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.

Paez, who has visited Dachau concentration camp in her own travels, knows the field trip will be overwhelming.

“You really feel history,” she said. “You cannot not be shocked … Even if you’ve seen it before, it’s still something that surprises you.”

But it also presents an opportunity to put the classroom lessons into perspective — to learn more about social justice, recognize factors that contribute to genocide and hopefully prevent a repeat.

“It’s pretty important right now, especially since most of the survivors are disappearing on us,” added Paez. “It’s important that other people pick up the torch and learn, and then to share that with the students.”

Michelle Phair, also of O’Neill, is another of the teachers taking part, along with Milos Menhart (from Michael A. Riffel) and Patrick Reed (of Dr. Martin LeBoldus).

Phair, who teaches history and ethics, had an opportunity a few years back to hear a Holocaust survivor speak, and it furthered her interest and passion for sharing that part of history.

This week, they travel to Toronto to shadow a team of teachers from York Catholic School Division, who are delivering the interdisciplinary course to their students. Students and teachers leave Saturday for two weeks in Germany and Poland. They’ll tour, reflect upon, and write about the concentration camps and memorials, the victims and survivors.

At Auschwitz, each participant will finally open the sealed, survivors’ letters.

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