A motion by Ensemble Montréal for history courses on genocides in Quebec schools

Montréal, November 12th, 2018 – Ensemble Montréal will be tabling a motion at the next city council asking the Quebec government to study the relevance of including a course on the history of genocides in the Quebec curriculum. The leader of Ensemble Montréal, Lionel Perez, made the announcement this morning, accompanied by Ms. Heidi Berger, founder and president of the Foundation for Genocide Education, as well as representatives of the Rwandan and Armenian communities.

"Currently, there is no course on the genocides of the twentieth century in Quebec or elsewhere in Canada. Yet, UNESCO encourages the study of genocides because it allows young people to develop a critical mind about extremist causes and thus prevents racism and radicalization. It is through education that students will be able to promote respect for diversity. With the rise in hate crimes and incidents across the country, we believe that Montreal and Quebec must be pioneers in this area", said Mr. Perez.

The motion builds on the tremendous work done by the Foundation for Genocide Education, which is currently working with the Quebec Ministry of Education to create a teaching guide on the subject, which will be available to teachers for the 2019-2020 school year. The motion also invites Montréal school boards to promote the Guide d’enseignement de l’histoire des genocides to secondary school teachers in Montreal.

"As I toured Quebec’s high schools, I observed a troubling fact: students do not know the meaning of the word "genocide". And teachers have neither the time nor the proper training to teach them. So I created the Foundation for Genocide Education to provide teachers with all the tools they need to integrate the theme of genocides into their courses. By being better informed, students will recognize the warning signs of radicalization and prevent hatred and intolerance from turning into violence. We want to make them responsible citizens and future civic leaders", said Berger.

The motion will be debated at the November 19th city council meeting.

Motion of the Official Opposition                                                                                       

City council meeting of November 19th, 2018

Motion for an improved teaching of the history of genocides in Quebec high schools

Whereas the number of hate incidents and cases of anti-Semitism is on the rise, including in Montreal, as is shown by the most recent surveys of the ‘’Hate crimes and incidents squad’’ of the Service de police de Montréal and the Center for the Prevention of Radicalization Leading to Violence;

Whereas the number of hate crimes has also gone up in Canada, as is shown by Statistics Canada’s survey between 2013 and 2016:

-           A 23% rise of the number of criminal cases motivated by hate;

-           A 41 % rise of crimes motivated by hatred for a religion or a religious group and a 48 % rise of these crimes which were reported to police;

-           That Judaism is the religion that was most targeted by these crimes, with a 22% rise;

-           And that crimes targeting Muslims also saw a 114% rise.

Whereas on October 27th, 2018, at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, 11 individuals were killed and 6 others were injured in the worst anti-Semitic attack in United States history;

Whereas intolerance, discrimination, racism and hate are likely to lead to violence and genocide, which is defined as a crime against humanity aiming for the partial or total destruction of a national, ethnic, racial or religious group;

Whereas education and the teaching of the history of genocides can play an essential role in the fight against biases which can lead to genocide, as is recognized by many international resolutions:

-           United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolution 60/7 (2005) and  UNESCO General Conference Resolution 34C/61 (2007) on Holocaust Remembrance;

-           United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution 2150 (2015) on the ‘’[reengagement] to prevent and fight genocide’’;

-           Human Rights Council (HRC) resolution A/HRC/28/L.25 (2015) on the prevention of genocide ;

Whereas the teaching of genocides is also part of the efforts undertaken by UNESCO to promote Global citizenship education (GCED), one of the priorities of the Education 2030 Agenda;

Whereas a large number of young students in Quebec do not have proper knowledge of the history of genocides as it is not systematically taught in Quebec high schools;

Whereas the Genocide Foundation is currently collaborating with the Quebec Ministry of Education to create a teaching guide on the topic which will be used by teachers starting the 2019-2020 school year;

It is moved by            Lionel Perez, Leader of the Official Opposition and City Councilor for the district of Darlington;

And seconded by       Mary Deros, City Councilor for the district of Park-Extension :

That the Municipal Council affirms the importance of teaching the history of genocides in Quebec and Montreal high schools to fight intolerance, racism and hate;

That the City Council congratulate the Genocide Foundation for its work in keeping the memory of genocides alive and engraving their teachings in the minds of future generations;

That the City Council invite Montreal’s school boards to promote Guide d’enseignement de l’histoire des génocides to teachers at Montreal high schools from the moment it is published in order to create a tolerant and peaceful society;

That the City Council request a study from the Quebec government on the relevance of including a class on the history of genocides in Quebec’s educational curriculum;

That a copy of this resolution be sent to the members of the National Asembly of Quebec.

 

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