TORONTO–The Armenian National Committee of Canada and the Canadian Centre for Genocide Education held the 4th national teachers’ summer institute at the Armenian Community Centre of Toronto from July 23 to 27.
The five-day training session was an overwhelming success with teachers travelling from all over Canada to attend the educational gathering. 40 teachers attended the Institute.
The Genocide Institute is designed to encourage teachers to instruct students the lessons of genocide–the importance of tolerance, upholding human rights, helping others in need–and to help prepare them to effectively communicate these lessons to their students.
The institute’s morning portion was designed to introduce teachers to the history of four case studies of Genocide. In the afternoon segment teachers participated in classroom implementation, resources, multimedia presentation, and group activity.
On the opening day Dr. Gerry Caplan and educator Dr. Barabra Coloroso talked about the overall theme of genocide, the history of the UN Charter on Genocide, the causes of genocide, its devastating effects on victims, its social, religious, and political implications, its denial, and the complicity of some governmen’s, the perpetrators’ bully mentality, and finally, the confidence of genocide perpetrators that you would be granted impunity.
On Tuesday July 24, the main topic was the Armenian Genocide. Prof. Alan Whitehorn and Dr. Isabel Kaprielian-Churchill presented the various aspects of the Armenian Genocide. A number of teachers said that they were baffled by the Turkish government’s denial of the Armenian Genocide against such overwhelming documentation, evidence, and the verdicts of historians.
On Wednesday, Prof. Roman Serbyn and Valentina Kuryliw instructed the gathering on the Ukrainian Famine-Genocide of 1932-1933.
Thursday was reserved for the Holocaust. Prof. Gerald Tulchinsky and Sylvia Bereskin brought to the attention of the teachers new details about the horrors of the Holocaust. That evening Prof. Abdulkerim Ousman talked about the latest developmen’s in Darfur.
The genocide studies gathering came to a close on Friday with discussions on the Rwandan Genocide. Major Brent Beardsley, Shyrna Gilbert and Leo Kabalisa took the teachers on a painful journey of discovery about the latest genocide of our times.
During the Monday July 23 banquet, the lead speakers were Drs. Caplan and Coloroso. The latter observed that it is only a short walk from hate to genocide. Representatives of partner communities also delivered messages from their groups and expressed their confidence in the continued success of the institute.
Aris Babikian, executive director of ANCC, saluted the "teachers’ dedication and commitment to this noble cause.” He added: "Your sense of mission and duty to make Canada and the world a better place through education and by sensitizing future generations and our country’s future leaders is greatly appreciate not only by Genocide and Holocaust victim nations but everyone around the globe.”
The ANCC representative acknowledged “it is incumbent upon us [victim nations and teachers] to work together to educate and to empower the next generation of Canadians and world leaders with moral values which will guide them to eradicate the plague of genocide and prevent other races and nations from experiencing what we have suffered from.”
Rich Hitchens, founder and president of the Canadian Centre for Genocide Education, observed “it is a straight walk from the Armenian Genocide to Darfur today. Each successive genocidal regime had learned from its predecessors that the world would do little to nothing to intervene, to prevent, to stop, or punish genocide. No one cared about the Armenia’s, as Hitler observed, and so, in turn, no one cared about those to follow, including Ukrainians, Jews, Cambodians, Bosnians, and Rwandans. What other lesson could the regime in Sudan have learned other than that it was free to pursue genocide with impunity."
Orest Steciw from the League of Ukrainian Canadians, Prof. Wsevolod W. Isajiw of the Ukrainian Canadian Research & Documentation Centre, and MP Peggy Nash also addressed the Monday evening gathering.
A silent auction featuring cultural pieces from the homelands of various partners was held at the banquet.
The Ge nocide Institute was offered for the first time in London, Ont., in 2004, with the sole participation of teachers from the London area. In 2005, teachers from across Southwestern Ontario participated in the second annual Genocide Institute. Because of the success of the Genocide Institute, the program was expanded in 2006 to include teachers from across the country.
One of the attributes that makes the Genocide Institute special is that it is a partnership of a number of organizations representing victim groups of genocide. Armenia’s, Jews, Rwandans, and Ukrainians have joined together in common cause to encourage teachers to teach about the lessons of genocide.
The ANCC became a partner in the Genocide Institute in 2006. Meanwhile, the Armenian Community Centre graciously donated its facilities and hosted the Institute.