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Howard Fremeth: Holocaust education is as important as ever in the shadow of October 7th


“All other nations that tried to kill us have perished. Yet we have survived. Look at you.”

As the grandson of Holocaust survivors, these words from Marie Doduck to Jewish middle-school students hit me right in the kishkes

Learning about the Holocaust has always been important to me. My grandmother towards the end of her life chose me to share details that she didn’t tell anyone else—even her own children—and help her document her story so that it can be passed down to future generations. Now as a parent, I am only beginning to struggle with what I tell my kids about our family history. So when I had the opportunity to attend a Yom HaShoah Assembly, I knew I had to be there to both observe and show my daughter how much it means to me.  

Born in 1935, Marie Doduck was just five years old when the Nazis conquered her hometown of Brussels. She was forced into hiding until the end of the war. Her survival, in her own words, was thanks to a mixture of good luck and the goodwill of many non-Jews who took her in. In 1947, she came to Canada as part of the Jewish Canadian Congress’ Orphan War Project which helped foster children who had lost their parents in the Holocaust.

For more than an hour at the assembly, the students had an opportunity to hear Marie’s story. She was particularly keen to spend most of the time answering questions. I was amazed by how much more the students knew about the history of the Second World War and the Holocaust than I thought they would. They wanted to know everything from details about her daily life routine to her views on the Nazis. 

But it was one student’s question that folded the past into the present: what do you think about the massacre of Israelis on October 7th and the current rise of antisemitism in Canada?    

Marie didn’t hesitate in her response. She said she thinks she’s reliving what happened to her some 80 years ago. She recalled that the violence began with words, so we must call out hate speech before it goes too far. But she did say there was one crucial difference between then and now. 

Today the Jewish people have a country to call our own. She told the students that if Israel existed before the Holocaust, that’s where European Jews would have gone for sanctuary. We now have a place to go if we must leave Canada—a thought that none of us would’ve even imagined a few months ago. But she also said we won’t leave or turn the other cheek like we did when she was a girl in Belgium. We will fight back both here in Canada and in Israel. 

She reminded the students that Israel has one of the most powerful militaries in the world. Her message paralleled something I heard Israel’s Ambassador to Canada Iddo Moed share on Hub Dialogues: we will win this war because we have to win the war. 

I walked out of the assembly thinking how precious it was that my daughter had the opportunity to hear directly from a survivor. While I’m grateful they were able to meet, my daughter was not even five when my grandmother passed away. Thankfully we have a self-published photo album recounting her family history and a translation of her diary—written in a mixture of Yiddish, Russian, and Polish with a few of her own drawings throughout the pages—that offers a first-person account of her survival. Yet none of this can compete with hearing directly from a survivor who can also situate the past into the present. 

At a time when protesters distort the Holocaust, chant the genocidal “River to the Sea” slogan, and call on Jews to “go back to Europe,” Marie’s story empowers the great-grandchildren of Holocaust survivors. It offers meaning for why we continue our traditions despite the trauma, costs (yes, Jewish education is not cheap), and threats we face, as they are reminded every day when they see police parked outside their school.  

I know there will be a time soon when we won’t have any more living survivors. Until that day comes, it is incumbent on all of us to hear their stories and ensure that young Canadians from all faiths and backgrounds share in this opportunity. 

Adam Legge and Irfhan Rawji: Our immigration strategy is failing to deliver on its most important promise


Canada is a nation that has benefited tremendously from immigration. At its core, the promise of immigration is this: that new Canadians can come here from around the world, contribute to our economy and society, and build a great life for themselves, and that when they do, we will all collectively be better off for it.

The problem is, we have not been delivering on that promise.

In recent years, Canada’s immigration system has strayed, and while there are still many positives, it hasn’t been delivering as well for established Canadians and newcomers alike. Perhaps most importantly—and most frankly—is that it’s not making everyone better off, and Canadians are getting poorer.

Right now, Canada’s economy has stagnated. In fact, Canadians are no better off today than they were in 2014. And, with future productivity expectations in the gutter, our economy will not grow at the pace required to deliver opportunities for a growing population. All this has created frustration among Canadians, both long-established and new ones. Less than one-third of Canadians believe that our current approach to immigration is effective, and one-third of immigrants are unsure of their decision to move to Canada.

That’s a bad sign for Canada’s future. Future prosperity requires that the Canadian economy generates more value, not just because there are more of us, but because each one of us is better off. To get there, we need an enhanced approach and a renewed focus on the actual purpose of economic immigration: to generate prosperity for all. 

There are two main ways we need to do this:

  • Attracting and selecting the best candidates for economic immigration
  • Improving outcomes for newcomers themselves

On the selection of the best economic candidates, the statistics around this may surprise many Canadians. Today, about half of the people admitted into Canada in the economic category were not, in fact, selected for their economic contributions. They are the spouses and dependents of a primary economic immigrant. For every 10 newcomers to Canada, about three are personally selected for their economic contribution. While many of these additional people have great contributions to make to our economy as well, when we’re counting five-year-olds as economic immigrants, it’s no wonder we’re not seeing the level of economic boost we might expect.

Also, there are big gaps in how Canada decides which economic immigrants to select. Take as an example a person with a master’s degree in—because we need to pick something—Latin, versus a person with a certification as a heavy-duty mechanic.

All else held equal, the person with the master’s would receive more points than the mechanic, due simply to years of education, despite the fact that the mechanic has vastly higher average earning potential in Canada today. And, with full respect to both professions, Canada also needs far more heavy mechanics right now than we do TAs in Latin.

A clear needle-moving fix is to reform the points system used to better select economic immigrants, prioritizing those with higher earning potential over other measures. We should also make this system dynamic and update it frequently to account for changes in what skills our economy needs in real time.

On the second front, improving newcomer experience and outcomes, the fixes are clear but that doesn’t make them easy. The process needs to be streamlined and simplified. We need to connect newcomers to supports so they can find a home and a job as quickly as possible. More than all else, we need to make it much easier for newcomers to use their skills in the Canadian labour market. We must view it as economically and morally unacceptable to have people delivering Skip the Dishes who are trained as—and would prefer to be working as—physicians and engineers.

Finally, as every business person knows, what gets measured gets done. For our immigration system, we need to enhance it to deliver on its stated goal of making everyone better off. That requires tying our strategy to clear indicators of prosperity such as GDP growth per capita and directing our resources to best increase those metrics.  

There is a mandate for change. In a poll from Abacus, nearly 70 percent of Canadians feel the current immigration targets are too high. We owe it to all Canadians, from those who have been here the longest to the newest, to deliver on the promise of immigration and make everyone better off from it.