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Belle Millo


Millo says students from Oak Park High School have not attended recently

by Rhonda Spivak, December 16, 2011

While interviewing Superintendent Laurence Lussier of the Pembina School Trail Division about the recent antisemtic incident where two youths are being charged for allegedly singing the hair of a Jewish girl, I asked if he was aware  of the Annual Holocaust and Human Rights symposium put on by the Freeman Foundation Holocaust Awareness Centre. (see related story abpit the incident in local news)
At the annual symposium which takes place at the Duckworth Centre at the University of Winnipeg,  a guest speaker speaks on the Holocaust and there are also local holocaust survivors who speak and participate in discussions with high-school students on antisemitism, racism, and intolerance. Lussier said he was not familiar with the symposium, and asked that I forward him some information about it. Superintendent Lussier struck me as being serious about educating students  on this topic and would potentially be very interested in ensuring students at Oak Park and other schools in his  jurisdiction participate in th esymposium.
I phoned Belle Millo, Chair of the  Freeman Family Holocaust Education Centre of the Jewish Heritage Centre  who organizes the symposium yearly and asked her if Oak Park High School in Charleswood had attended the symposium in recent years.
Millo, who many years ago taught French at Charleswood High School, says that for the last two years, although she has sent out letters inviting Oak Park to the symposium, she has not received any response from them and their students have not participated. Her records only go back two years, such that does not know when, if at all, students from Oak Park High School have ever attended. Prior to that, Millo was not the one organizing the event.
Millo said possibly one school fromthe Pembina Trails School division has attended the  symposium in the last two years to the best of her knowledge.
When asked if she sends the notices about the symposium to superintendents of the school divisions,  Millo said she doesn't , but sends the notices to each ELA and social studeis department head of  every Manitoba high school.

She said that the latest letters about this year’s upcoming symposium in May went out in November, “right around the time” when the recent antisemitic incidents at Oak Park allegedly took place.

Millo said that the cost for participating schools to attend the symposium is not much, “no more than any other field trip”

Millo said that already this year there are lots of registrants attending the upcoming symposium. In my view, if there were to be  a lot of interest this year from the Pembina Trails School Division, the  symposium  may not be able to accommodate all the interested students. She said that this year they have an excellent speaker lined up, as  usual.

When I heard this, I suggested that maybe it was possible to organize a second symposium to be held on site at a school n Pembina Trails School Division, such that the out of town guest speaker coming to Winnipeg  for  the symposium could attend and speak there as well, if there is interest, which hopefully there will be.

Millo will consider contacting Superintendent Lussier to see what can be worked out. 

It definitely would be worth trying to ensure that Oak Park High school students and others in the Charleswood area be able to be exposed to this valuable educational program. This latest incident and related antisemitic remarks made by other students could serve as an opportune time to educate other public school students how to combat  antisemitism, intolerance, and racism, and speak out against it. As educators would say, the recent events at Oak Park High School can provide "a teachable moment."
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.