History 12 students benefit from meeting Holocaust survivors at the Holocaust Symposium in Coquitlam.

Riverside History students get the opportunity to speak with a Holocaust survivor and an educator about the importance of the event and how we can prevent similar horrific occurances in the future.

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For the past eight years, History teacher Mr. Ben Lepore has been taking his students to the annual Holocaust Symposium in Coquitlam. Students were able to talk with a survivor of the genocide and connect it to what they learn in the classroom.

“The symposium is an opportunity for students to experience a first-hand account from a survivor of the Holocaust and thus view the historical event in human terms,” said Lepore. “It is a powerful experience about a significant historical event.” He also said that it is valuable for the students to be able to make the connection between the classroom and real life experiences.

Holocaust Survivor Margerite Dudock spoke about her time during the Holocaust, and how her own wisdom and determination were able to help her survive. She also talked about the importance of her family, who aided her to safety with the help of a foster family and was able to escape a concentration camp herself.

In attendance was Coquitlam-Maillardville MLA Selina Robinson, who interestingly compared the Holocaust to the Niquab debate, and how the banning of religious symbols is a problem parallel with the Holocaust and National Socialism itself. Different Coquitlam officials also made an appearance, such as Mayor Richard Stewart, showing their respects and ensuring that the events remain a vital part of how we honour history.

Historian and Holocaust Educator Mr. Kit Krieger lectured about the importance of honoring the Holocaust and how it was unparalleled in the history of mankind. Krieger also touched on the importance of educating young people about these events so that history does not repeat itself.

History 12 student Jamie Pšenička thought the symposium was very interesting, and enjoyed talking with other history students about the Holocaust. “It was good to establish that connection with the historian [Krieger] and survivor [Dudock],” said Pšenička. “It allowed me to reach a deeper understanding of the events that happened during World War II.”

Grade 12 student Emma McGaffney was also part of the presentation, demonstrating Riverside’s contributions to build a better society through programs such as Rapid Change, along with students from neighboring schools Dr. Charles Best Secondary and Centennial Secondary School.