In order to pursue a conversation about reconciliation in my classroom, and to ensure that my voice as a non-Indigenous teacher does not become louder than the survivors, I constantly strive to include Indigenous voices in my classroom. I want my voice to amplify Indigenous voices, not speak over them, or for them. I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity through Facing History and Ourselves to have Theodore Fontaine share his experiences with the Canadian Residential School System in my Challenge and Change Grade 12 University class.
The students in my Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity course gained new and meaningful perspectives on what life was like for those targeted for extermination by the Nazi regime by creating a unique and innovative art exhibition that explored the lives of young victims of the Holocaust.
“Kim Kardashian published a book of them, Russia banned them, and at the Oscars last year Ellen took the most liked one of all time: Selfies. And love them or hate them, there’s no denying the impact their proliferation has had on modern society.” When I came across this statement in a magazine (Elle: Selfie Culture and Female Identity), I for the first time, appreciated the value of a ‘Selfie.’ Indeed, a Selfie can shed light on attitudes, values, allegiances, cultures, and pursuits – and all of this in a tiny, square screen.
One of the reasons why I love teaching is that I can open students’ eyes to injustices that exist today - injustices like the missing and murdered Indigenous women - and the ways in which they can promote change. The grade 12 Challenge and Change course provides the ideal opportunity to raise these issues, and Facing History’s approach, strategies, and readings give me the tools to authentically engage students.
Welcome to the 2017 Facing History Together Student Essay Contest
Making Choices in Today's World
Facing History and Ourselves teaches us to think about the world in new ways, igniting conversations about how we can build societies free from racism, antisemitism, bullying, and hatred of all kinds.
On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and indeed everyday, it is important to remind ourselves of how important it is that we learn about the Holocaust and hear the stories of Holocaust survivors.
Why do troubled times so often bring out hatred in humanity? In both Canada and the United States over the past few years there has been much xenophobic rhetoric spread around in light of numerous global crises. During the 2015 Canadian and 2016 American elections we saw candidates in both countries “other” identifiable or vulnerable members of society using hateful language and often using them as scapegoats for social and economic problems, all while claiming to speak for the will of those they purport to be the “silent majority”. Furthermore, we saw large groups joining the “unsilent majority” through the use of social media to spread hate, join xenophobic movements and rallies, commit hate crimes and even acts of violence. Those who criticized this movement drew many parallels between the social climate and dialogue of today to that of Nazi Germany. As educators we felt it necessary to attempt to address this recurring phenomenon.
A Facing History teacher knows the positive impact the Genocide and Crimes against Humanity course can have on a student, when taught using Facing History and Ourselves methodology, strategies and resources. If you are new to Facing History, or are interested in learning more, one of the most important advocates we have are the students themselves. The following is a letter from Trent Dickson, Facing History alumni.
When I graduated from teacher’s college, my goal was to teach high school music and history. I wanted to have discussions about the people and choices that shape society, the injustices of the past, and the levers that we have to create change. I spent a year supplying, and then in 2014/2015 I was got a position - much to my surprise - in a grade one classroom, and the following year, in a grade five/six split classroom.