Kelly Hiebert Transcript

The project that my students and I started was based on the rise of hate and anti-semitism in Canada through the voices of Holocaust survivors in Winnipeg. We felt that there weren’t too many resources that combined student voice and survivors’ voices to create an awareness of these issues going on in our world today with the rise of hate and whatever form that may take. And, so, we wanted to create something that teachers could use and others could view to create an awareness and become educated on these issues that are affecting people still to this day.

The final product takes viewers to kind of see what’s happening in today’s world on social media in regards to what anti-semitism is, what form does it take today on Instagram, TikTok and those kind of mediums. But then, we go into kind of the history of the Holocaust and the war where we outline the survivors’ testimonies through the before, during and after the war and how that impacted them. Humanizing the events so that students and other people can connect with them on a personal basis.

I really wanted to empower my students to take control over this documentary whether it be script writing, the research aspects, the interviewing of survivors, students, played an integral part and they were the driving force behind the documentary as a whole. My role was more to facilitate the students and to be there for support, making sure that they had the right privileges, from the USHMM and Yad Vashem and from YouTube, from music that we were using that make sure it’s copyrighted properly and embedded in our documentary properly and also making sure that the historical content was accurate.

I went over all that material with the students and we sat down as a group to write the script as a team so everybody had a voice at the table and led to some interesting conversations, and some head butting sometimes, but it all turned out well in the end. And the dialogue was so important,  that the students felt that this was their project and that it wasn’t just Mr. Hiebert telling them what they need to do and how they’re going to do it. And, so that yeah, that took a lot of time but the creative forces that came out of the students was phenomenal.

It was a really special evening when we had our Premiere here last year and we invited the community itself and as well as the survivors and the family members that were able to make it and to have the majority of survivors there in the theatre at our school surrounded by Westwood community members listening to their stories and and testimony was very touching. And, that’s something we don’t always get to see.

The film and the project as a whole impacted the students on multiple levels. It challenged them as people, it challenged them as citizens and challenge them as historians and it made them, I think, look inside of who they are and what they feel is right and wrong and when do we stand up and speak out and when is it a time that we don’t and they came up with the the response that we should speak up all the time.

That there should be no bystanders as hard as that may be sometimes we need to speak up when we know that something is wrong, when we see that an injustice is happening they speak up now and and they reconnect a lot of the situations that we see today in the media to the project and many of the students that took part in the film also came on a tour of Holocaust sites this past summer with myself and Professor Perron, who’s in the film to see these sites.

I think it took them to the next level of understanding and connecting where where some of our survivors grew up and just being able to feel those senses like sight, sound, smell, touch of the places we visited that some of the survivors were in these ghettos or were in the camps or their families were exterminated at Treblinka. And so, it was very powerful, very emotional and it’s hard to put into words how it impacted them but through their actions and through how they live as people today. You can see it.

I think it’s important that students engage actively not just, you know, participating in class but actively going out and taking part whether it be, you know, guest lectures or events at museums or universities but also understanding that they can make a difference themselves, that one person is more than enough to make a difference and to educate others so that we can move as a society in a direction that’s positive for all people through sharing our own stories and our own memories and our own family history, we can find connections to the past and it does show us a little bit about who we are as people, where we come from and helps to develop who we are as people, I think, in our identity.