Happy Canada Day and Academic Year-End Message

July 1, 2015

July 1, 2015, marks Canada’s 148th birthday and the 92nd anniversary of the arrival of the first 46 Armenian genocide orphans at Georgetown, Ontario. A group of 50 were collected from the London, UK-based Armenian Refugees (Lord Mayor’s) Fund Orphanage in Corfu, Greece, and traveled via Marseilles to Cherbourg, France. Four were held back for several weeks, with the rest continuing on to Quebec City. Taking a train through Quebec and Ontario, they finally arrived at Georgetown on what was then called Dominion Day. The project was a milestone in the history of a country that has prided itself for its humanitarian record.

As summer school classes begin, we encourage teachers to take some time to discuss this history with their students. Topics such as immigration, humanitarianism, human rights, and genocide are relevant to many courses and are curricular expectations in many Canadian, World Studies, and Humanities courses. Questions educators may wish to explore can include, How do we accept new immigrants in our classroom? What are our attitudes towards those in need? How might these boys have felt as they arrived in a country they knew nothing about? A perfect resource to use on this occasion is the one published by the Corning Centre on the Georgetown Boys and Historical Thinking Concepts.

The Corning Centre has been interested in the story of the orphaned survivors of the Armenian Genocide who were brought up at Georgetown, Ontario, since its inception. It is a tale of the admirable efforts of Canadians to resist prejudice, demonstrate compassion, and give hope to a people marked for extinction. For more on this history and related lessons and resources, check out our Online Lesson Portal, our resources page, and our 100 Voices project.

The Sara Corning Centre for Genocide Education has visited over 1200 students through its guest lecture services throughout the 2014-2015 academic year. By inviting the Corning Centre to their classrooms, teachers in various school boards have created a unique opportunity for their students to receive information on topics such as the legacy of genocide, genocide denial, eyewitness testimony and Canada and the Armenian Genocide. The visits have been highly interactive and allowed students the opportunity to ask questions as they navigate the complexities surrounding genocide, human rights and world politics. 

The Corning Centre is dedicated to promoting human rights, anti-racism and genocide education in Canada. Our presentations inspire students to become active voices in promoting diversity and respect for all. We encourage teachers to contact us and book a classroom visit for the 2015-2016 academic year, or even for their summer school classes, and to stay tuned for upcoming events and classroom resources as Armenian Genocide Centenary commemorative events and initiatives continue. Happy Canada Day!