Asper Foundation Human Rights and
Holocaust Studies Program
The Hamilton Jewish Federation is proud to present the Asper Human Rights and Holocaust Studies Program. Among the program’s objectives are to promote respect for others and sensitize Hamilton students in Grades 9 through 11 to the consequences of racism.
The educational component of the Asper Human Rights and Holocaust Studies Program is a multi-media platform of engaging and thoughtful study, with an added emphasis on Canadian history and current affairs. After the educational component is completed, students participate in a 4-day trip to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) in Winnipeg, MB. The CMHR is the first National Museum created in Canada since 1967 and the first National Museum to be located outside the National Capital Area.
Asper students are required to complete 10 hours of pre-approved volunteering community service on public projects that meet the spirit of the program. This has resulted in over 145,000 hours of community service being carried out across Canada since the original program was established.
Graduation from the Program
The last component of the program is a graduation ceremony, during which each student is presented with a Memorandum for Personal Responsibility. The Memorandum aims to provide each student with a sense of the importance that they participated in the program and to remind them that they have a personal responsibility for the world community. The ceremony is a wonderful way to provide the students with closure to the formal part of the program as well as the sense that they are now beginning a new life of greater understanding and inclusion.
The Effects of the Program
The following quotes by Asper student participants testify to the program’s impact: “It gave me a different view of the world.” “As I speak to people now, I realize the true meaning and importance of bearing witness.” “You have no idea how much this experience meant to us all.” “By being educated about these tragic events in history, people will be more motivated to stop what is happening now.”
The value of this program is immeasurable and is reflected in the support it receives from past participants and parents who understand its importance. A significant portion of the cost of the program is subsidized by the Hamilton Jewish Federation and the Asper Foundation. Since the program’s inception in 1997 to 2018, more than 14,000 students and chaperones in 204 cities spanning 12 provinces and territories across Canada will have participated in this initiative.