Following a string of anti-Semitic events in schools, Canada’s largest public school board has announced that it will give additional Holocaust instruction.
TORONTO: Following a spate of antisemitic events in schools, including one this week in which three middle-school students did the Nazi salute in class, Canada’s largest public school board says it will give more Holocaust instruction.

According to a representative for the Toronto District School Board, when a French teacher stepped into a Grade 8 class at Valley Park Middle School on Thursday, the kids did “the Heil Hitler salute.”

Shari Schwartz-Maltz, the teacher’s mother, is Jewish and the daughter of Holocaust survivors, and she was “extremely wounded, very disturbed, very traumatised” by the episode, according to Shari.

According to Schwartz-Maltz, who also chairs the board’s Jewish heritage committee, a similar event with the Nazi salute occurred at another school a few weeks ago, and the board is now seeing antisemitic graffiti in schools around twice a week.

She says the students engaged in last Thursday’s event will suffer “consequences,” but she doesn’t go into further.

According to Schwartz-Maltz, the board will instead focus on increasing education about antisemitism and the Holocaust, and will take a more proactive approach to the issue.

The TDSB has been providing programming on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which is Jan. 27, as well as bringing in additional programming when there are incidences, she added.

The board had previously brought in a community partner to relate the tale of her late father, who escaped the Auschwitz concentration camp as a kid, albeit his relatives did not, she added. She said that the same partner will now be working with a group of people who will share similar experiences.

“We’ve been working with them on a reactive basis, like whenever there’s an incident, which there are a lot of,” Schwartz-Maltz explained. “However, going forward, we’ll be dealing with them on a more proactive basis.”

She also stated that the board will collaborate with organisations like as The Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center to increase awareness of the issue.

“When you dig down, you truly talk to the youngsters; when we do investigations, we bring them in and ask them, ‘why did you draw that swastika?'” Alternatively, ‘why did you speak those words?’ “Most of the time, they have no notion, (they) just don’t know,” she explained.

Last week’s event was also condemned by Toronto Mayor John Tory.

“The event at Valley Park Middle School is as heartbreaking as it is unpleasant and clearly wrong.” It is incredibly upsetting to witness antisemitic activities, particularly among young people, taking place in our community,” he stated in a statement.

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