Lance Hiltz
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From: Monday, May 2, 2016 1:17 PM -0600
Subject:Second Annual Horizon Holocaust Symposium

On April 19th, 2016, approximately 600 Grade 11 students gathered in Humbolt for a day of learning about a tragic piece of world history; the Holocaust.  


Don Morgan, minister of education kicked off the symposium by bring greetings on behalf of the Government of Saskatchewan. There were other greetings and it was all introduced by Mr. Larry Mikulcik.


Mr. Mikulcik was the reason this Holocaust Symposium was developed. It came about due to his desire to teach about the Holocaust. Mikulcik was one of 25 teachers from across the globe selected to take a trip to Poland in 2015 to take part in the "Auschwitz: The Past is Present" program. He now works hard to educate students about this time in history in order to prevent racism and prejudice.


The first official presentation was delivered by Mr. David Katzman, former principal and school teacher. Katzman now does an online anti-racism program and works for the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission. Katzman's father was a Holocaust survivor. The presentation Katzman brought to the students was "Understanding Judaism and Anti-Semitism." Upon interviewing him, it was obvious that he has a passion for educating students on this topic and avoiding prejudice is general.


Next, students were able to listen to Mr. Mikulcik give a presentation on the "History of the Holocaust". This presentation was informative and very interesting.

Following this, Mr. Dan Vardi, a teacher and emissary from Isreal gave a presentation titled, "Renewal: Life, Justice and New Isreal." Vardi has many relatives who were victims of the Holocaust. He admits that it was hard for his relatives to speak on their events and that his father’s generation knows less about the Holocaust experiences than his generation does because the survivors took that long to talk about the events. Vardi now spreads this information in order to educate people. He has a passion for speaking to students as he is a teacher in Isreal. He spoke about life in Isreal after the Holocaust and today.


After lunch, Mr. Mikulcik presented, "Holocaust Denial, Genocide, Justice, and the Lessons Not Yet Learned." Mikulcik educated everyone on people who deny the realities of the Holocaust.

Following this, the highly-accomplished Judge David Arnott presented on "Human Rights Today." Through this presentation, the crowd got a lesson on basic human rights and how to avoid prejudice.


To end the day, the grand finale was Mr. Nate Leipciger. At age 88, Mr. Leipciger is able to recall his experiences throughout the Holocaust. At 11 years old, Mr. Leipciger was plunged into hardship as he traveled through Jewish ghettos and concentration camps. He lost his mother and sister but stuck with his father until his eventual freedom from Auschwitz. At the age of twenty, Leipciger immigrated with his father to Toronto where he was able to get his high school education and eventual University degree. Leipciger now educates people on the realities of the Holocaust. His presentation was certainly eye-opening and provided a very rare opportunity for the students. These Grade 11s are part of the last generation who will have the opportunity to hear firsthand survivor accounts of the Holocaust. After his presentation, there was a question and answer session followed by autograph signing. Students were able to purchase Nate Leipciger's book and teachers were given the book to take back to their school libraries. An interview with Mr. Leipciger was a worthwhile experience as the opportunity to speak to a Holocaust survivor is very powerful and rare. Students left that day with a new sense of the world around them and will surely remember the symposium forever.


- Written by Martina Leader, student, Foam Lake Composite School
- Photos courtesy of Tyson Simpson, student, Humboldt Collegiate Institute