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16th Annual Vanier College Kleinmann Family Foundation Symposium on the Holocaust and Genocide, April 16-24, 2009

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How does one deal with the horrors of murder and genocide? For some people it comes through works of imagination, and that is the theme of the 16th Annual Vanier College Kleinmann Family Foundation Symposium on the Holocaust and Genocide, April 16-24, 2009. 

Through books, films, memoirs, and music, survivors of persecution and genocide and their descendants have sought “creativity out of catastrophe”.

The Annual Symposium on the Holocaust and Genocide offers survivor testimonies, lectures and films dedicated to helping young people become alert to the horrors of the past, as well as some ongoing in the present. “Knowing about how people fight against, or recover from, atrocities and genocide can fortify today’s youth in their efforts to create a better world that we all want and deserve,” says Neil Caplan, the Symposium organizer and member of

This year’s theme, “Creativity out of Catastrophe,” encourages us to focus on literature and music as resources for healing wounds and building tolerance and trust. Included in the line-up of guest speakers are Monique Polak and Simon Wajcer, authors of memoirs (one semi-fictional and the other non-fiction) based on their mothers’ respective Holocaust experiences. A remarkable and uplifting film about Daniel Barenboim’s East-Western Divan Orchestra – “Knowledge is the Beginning” – will be brought into several classrooms, as well as to a public screening on Sunday afternoon, April 19, at the Unitarian Church of Montreal. Vanier students and the general public will find Symposium events taking place in about 35 regularly scheduled classes during the period April 16-24.

Teachers incorporate guest speakers and films into their courses, enriching their students’ learning experience and contributing to their personal growth into better, more alert citizens. “It has always struck me,” Neil Caplan explains, “that people are often moved by a single encounter with a special guest who connects them to the real world.

The Symposium is a whole series of events that could move students to take action in fighting prejudice and indifference.” People striving to build a more humane and tolerant society for themselves and their children can learn many lessons from history and become better equipped to overcome the evils of racism and intolerance. Caplan reminds us that this Symposium at Vanier exists thanks to the tireless energies of the late Peter Kleinmann, a retired Saint-Laurent businessman. Almost 20 years ago he began telling young people at Vanier and other colleges about what happened to him when he was their age, hoping to warn them about the dangers of racism, bigotry, stereotyping and discrimination. The Symposium which now bears his family name aims at educating Cégep students about the Holocaust and sensitizing them to the moral responsibility all people have towards one another.

Visit the Vanier College website at: for a complete schedule of events and locations.

The Symposium is open to the public. 

For information : Marguerite Corriveau, Vanier Communications Officer Telephone: (514) 744-7500, ext. 7596 Email:

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