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Minister Vic Toews and Shelley Faintuch

Minister Vic Toews, Shelley Faintuch and Zane Tessler, Chair, CommunityRelations at Jewish Federation of Winnipeg

Minister Vic Toews Presents Diamond Jubilee Medal to Shelley Faintuch

by Rhonda Spivak, August 1, 2012


Shelley Faintuch says that when Vic Toews, Regional Minister for Manitoba and Member of Parliament for Provencher, presented her with the Diamond Jubilee medal recently "it was a real surprise."

When asked what the nicest part of receiving this honour was, Faintuch, Director of Community Relations at the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg and Associate Director of Local Partner Services at the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs responded that "Receiving this type of recognition from outside of our community - the Regional Minister for Manitoba – the Minister for Public Safety in the Federal government, was really very moving. Minister Toews is a minister for whom I have enormous respect."

“Shelley Faintuch’s passion for Jewish history and culture, her unwavering commitment to Israel and her advocacy work in support of Jewish communities across the Prairies make her a Canadian exceptionally deserving of this great honour,” said Toews in announcing the award . “I am extremely pleased to be able to recognize the significant contributions she has made to our community.”

Faintuch says that to celebrate she had "dinner with friends."


Faintuch's work for the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs is focused in the areas of Holocaust awareness, human rights advocacy, interfaith and intercultural relations, and Israel and Jewish advocacy. She was also instrumental in the launch of the Asper Human Rights and Holocaust Program and co-developed the curriculum that is used nationally. The award is definitely a highlight of her career, but she says that along the way there have been "many memorable moments." As she says, “taking the recent Norway House Cree Nation youth leadership mission to Israel is one of the highlights of my career. Other highlights include: being invited to and then providing testimony in French and English at the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat

Antisemitism in Ottawa after completing the report was awesome. Producing the content for several television series, guest lecturing in schools, universities and churches on issues such as antisemitism, and introducing Israel behind the news to students is a wonderful experience. Recently, teaching cadets and recruits about antisemitism and the differences between hate crime and bad behaviour at the Winnipeg Police Service Academy was also quite remarkable."

Faintuch has been to Israel 13 times. " Although this might seem like a lot, many of my trips were to visit my son [Zev] for various ceremonies during his tour of duty as a combat soldier in the Nahal battalion," she says.

She adds, " Israel is very much a part of us [as Jews]. We should be immensely proud of that tiny little country and what she has managed to become in a short 64 years. Israel has its share of difficulties and issues, to be sure. But how many countries in the world today can boast that type of democracy? progress? beauty? freedom (and the great restaurants and wine?)."

When asked what her your favourite place to visit in israel is, Faintuch answered "I can't really talk about my favourite since I still have so much to discover. But I very much enjoy staying in Tel Aviv and sampling the great cuisine and culture. I love the natural beauty and people of the north. Jerusalem holds a special place in my heart..."

On the subject of Holocaust education, Faintuch says there can be no price affixed to the lessons of the Holocaust which "must be taught."

"I think that learning about the Holocaust, as something we, as a people, experienced, is very important. While it is not the source of our cultural identity, and should never be treated as such, the Holocaust marked us as a people and tore a hole in the fabric of the nations of the world. It is through anaylzing the Holocaust that we now have a sense of what constitute human rights; about the steps that can lead to genocide. These are vital aspects of education for all who live in democratic societies and all who aspire to live in democratic societies."

Faintuch says she is always learning more about the Holocaust.

When asked what books were on her night table, Faintuch answered, "I am just completing "Catherine the Great" by Mussie. I always have a

Holocaust book, a history book, and a murder mystery or good spy novel on my night table as well as a slew of magazines."

2012 marks the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the Throne as Queen of Canada. The Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal was created to mark this historic event and honour the significant contributions and achievements of Canadians.

To be eligible for this honour, a person must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada, must have made a significant contribution to a particular province, territory, region or community within Canada, or an achievement abroad that brings credit to Canada.

For more information on the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and nomination process.

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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.