Holocaust survivor Alex Buckman returned to speak in Chapel last Saturday as Shawnigan observed International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Marked every year since 2007 on January 27, International Holocaust Remembrance Day memorializes the killing of six million Jews — two thirds of Europe’s Jewish population — and millions of others, by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. It offers a chance to reflect on the lessons of the past and understand that genocide does not happen on its own and begins with the seeds of discrimination, racism and hatred.
Mr. Buckman survived the Holocaust as a child in Belgium, spending the war in an orphanage and only learning after it was over that his parents were betrayed to the Gestapo and murdered at the Auschwitz concentration camp.
Mr. Buckman would come to Canada in 1951, at the age of 11, with his aunt, Rebecca, who had spent 17 months in the Ravensbruck concentration camp. While at Ravensbruck, Rebecca had created a contraband book of recipes that she managed to keep with her throughout the war. It is now kept safely at the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre.
Following his address, Mr. Buckman joined the students for lunch, which included for dessert a special orange cake made from Rebecca’s recipe by Shawnigan’s kitchen team.
Also in Chapel, Max C. and Martin H. performed the theme song from Schindler’s List, Steven Spielberg’s epic historical drama about the Holocaust, on piano and cello, respectively. Max and Martin also performed the song at the Shawnigan Board of Governors’ retreat at Brentwood Bay the day before.
Holocaust Remembrance Day was discussed in Shawnigan classrooms as well. All Grade 10s worked on a unit in their social studies classes exploring antisemitism, both in the past and present, and answering the inquiry question “What criteria are used to determine that the Holocaust must be commemorated?” The unit included reading the United Nations resolution from 2005 that declared January 27 as the day to commemorate.
We acknowledge with respect the Coast Salish Peoples on whose traditional lands and waterways we live, learn and play. We are grateful for the opportunity to share in this beautiful region, and we aspire to healthy and respectful relationships with those who have lived on and cared for these lands for millennia.
Shawnigan Lake School is an independent co-educational boarding school for ages 13 –18 on Canada’s beautiful West Coast. Our diverse, interdisciplinary and innovative programming helps shape the next generation of global leaders.