Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Canadian Government Helps Fund the Country’s First Holocaust Documentation Program

January 29, 1982
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC) announced that it has established the first national Holocaust documentation program in Canada, which is partly funded by the Canadian government.

Disclosure of the project, which will videotape the testimonies of Canadian citizens who are Holocaust survivors, as well as statements from other Canadians and military liberators who witnessed the Holocaust era, was made in the first issue of the “Congress Quarterly Report, ” described as one of “a number of new, informative (CJC) publications directed toward a diverse readership.”

Partial funding is being provided under the federal multicultural program, which the report described as “an eloquent testimony to the importance the Canadian government places on documenting this era.”

The government’s support is based on a Holocaust Documentation Project Agreement which was signed for the government by Jim Fleming, Minister of State for Multiculturalism. The CJC report did not give any information on the total cost of the project nor on the amount of the partial funding provided by the federal government.


A crew, consisting of the project director an interviewer, a cameraman and a sound technician, will travel across Canada to videotape the interviews. The report said responses to “an appeal to come forward and testify” have come to the CJC from locations as diverse as St. Johns in Newfoundland in the east, and Nanaima in British Columbia in the west, “with every region in between being represented.”

A professional production company has been contracted to take the raw material from the interview tapes and edit it into educational curricular programs.

The idea for the project originated in 1976, when Aba Beer, chairman of the Canadian Holocaust Remembrance Committee, expressed the hope that “future generations will be able to hear accounts of the Holocaust from the survivors.” However, the report added, before the project was formally announced by Fleming, only a few minor oral history projects had been started in some Canadian cities.


According to the report, the purpose of the videotaping extends beyond compilation of an audio-visual history bank. The interviews will be used to develop a series of videotape cassettes to provide a complete curriculum on the Holocaust.

Using a variety of themes, the cassette programs will be used in classrooms of all levels throughout Canada “to raise issues of a social, moral, psychological and political nature.”

The report said the pedagogical role of the programs will be stressed through the use of teacher discussion guides which will be prepared for each cassette, and “teachers’ seminars will be provided at the completion of the programs to sensitize and train those in the (Canadian) educational network to use these cassettes,” according to the CJC.

The report said institutions through the United States and Canada doing Holocaust research “have been informed of the project’s inception and regular correspondence will be maintained” by the project’s officials with the institutions.

According to the report, Yale University which is developing a central repository for videotaped survivors’ testimonies, has asked the CJC project for copies of its collection, as has the Brooklyn Center for Holocaust Studies.

Two committees have been established to aid the CJC project. One is a Committee of Consultants of nine members in the academic community, religion, filmmaking, psychiatry and literature. The other is a committee of survivors and historians “to monitor the production of the educational tapes.”

Recommended from JTA