Thunder Bay

From the Holocaust to cyberbullying: Tour for Humanity examines intolerance, teaches empathy

Elementary school students with Lakehead Public Schools and the Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board in northwestern Ontario learned about diversity, democracy and human rights this week through the Tour for Humanity exhibition from the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies.

Tour visited public, Catholic schools across northwestern Ontario to raise awareness about human rights

The Tour for Humanity mobile classroom visited schools across northwestern Ontario to discuss diversity, tolerance and human rights. (Bruce Nugent/Lakehead Public Schools)

Elementary school students with Lakehead Public Schools and the Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board in northwestern Ontario learned about diversity, democracy and human rights this week through the Tour for Humanity exhibition from the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies in Toronto.

The fully-functional mobile classroom includes projectors for multi-media workshops on human rights, which begin with an examination of anti-Semitism "but we're also connecting the Holocaust with the broader idea of intolerance and looking at that from different perspectives," said Elena Kingsbury, an education associate with the center.

One of the most popular programs involves shining a light on some of the darker moments in Canadian history such as slavery, residential schools, and Japanese internment camps, she said.

Connecting intolerance of 'past and present day'

"We're making connections between the past and the present day" by looking at current events, like the recent increase in hate crimes, cyberbullying and deadly shootings in churches, mosques and synagogues, Kingsbury said.

"We're just making sure that students have a real understanding of the nature of intolerance and how it can take a lot of different forms, it can exist in any community and because there are so many shocking things they are seeing in the news I think kids do have more awareness than even a couple of decades ago."

The goal is also to give children, in grades three to eight, the confidence to act on that awareness.

The Tour for Humanity is an outreach project of the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies in Toronto. It encourages children to learn more about human rights and building a more tolerant society. (Bruce Nugent/Lakehead Public Schools)

"We want students to be empowered to realize that they can take action in their schools, their communities," said Kingsbury.

"Whether we're talking about racism or intolerance towards a certain religious group or towards someone because of their ability level or how much money they have, we want to connect all of those different things so that students can really empathize."

The Tour for Humanity was in Thunder Bay for several days and will also be stopping in Dryden, Ont., Winnipeg and Regina.