Defending Our Future. Protecting Our Past.
Defending Our Future. Protecting Our Past.
Not in My Name is a new exhibit by AGPI that tells of the story of the MS St. Louis. It's an ideal education module for teaching about Antisemitism, the Holocaust and how as a result, Canada has become one of the most friendly immigration countries in the world.
The exhibit addresses historic Antisemitism and its contemporary resurgence; it informs and educates about the Holocaust through the lens of the Jewish refugees; it addresses Canada's historic apology and it brings to the fore a shameful moment that captures issues of complicity, silence and hatred concerning Canada's immigration policies of the time.
The exhibit comprises of seven (7) 8 x 8'ft pop-up display panels. It takes approximately 5 minutes to assemble each display panel.
Pictures and explanatory notes for each panel can be found below. An accompanying curriculum will be available soon.
To inquire about booking, please send us a detailed email about your location, date and program. If you are a school, please indicate the name and location of the school.
In May 1939, the MS St. Louis left Germany with 907 German Jewish passengers fleeing Nazi persecution. Its captain tried in vain to find refuge for his passengers first in Cuba, then in the United States and finally in Canada - but was turned away each time. The ship was forced to return to Germany on June 6th. 200 passengers were murdered in the Holocaust.
Newspaper headlines, radio broadcasts and even film shorts were produced in May and June 1939 about the desperate plight of the 907 Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazis. Despite public awareness, Cuba, America and Canada all refused them entry. The rejection of the Jews by the west empowered Adolph Hitler to to murder the 6 Million without protest. Thus, by looking the other way and refusing assistance, the west was complicit in the Holocaust.
The rising tide of Nazism in Germany intensified Antisemitism in Canada. Signs restricting Jewish people were common-place, particularly at private clubs and rural communities. Synagogues were routinely desecrated and Nazi youth even organized the now infamous riot against Jewish and Italian baseball players at Christie Pits in Toronto. Canada’s Director of Immigration, Frederick Charles Blair, under William Lyon Mackenzie King developed and enforced restrictive antisemitic immigration policies designed to keep Jewish refugees from coming to Canada.
None is Too Many by Irving Abella and Harold Troper uncovered Canada’s Antisemitic and racist immigration policy between 1933 – 1948. At the time, Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King wrote:
“We must nevertheless seek to keep this part of the continent free from unrest and from too great an intermixture of foreign strains of blood, as much the same thing as lies at the basis of the Oriental problem. I fear we would have riots if we agreed to a policy that admitted numbers of Jews”.
When asked how many Jews would be admitted to Canada one official replied: “None is too many.”
During the Holocaust Canada saved the lowest number of Jews (5,000) among developed countries.
After returning to Europe, over 200 MS St. Louis Jewish refugees were murdered in the Holocaust. They were among Europe’s Six Million Jewish people (including 1.5 million children) who were murdered in death camps by being gassed; shot in ravines and by starvation and disease. In addition to the targeted murder of Jewish people, the Nazis also murdered the Roma-Sinti peoples, LGBTQ2 and those who were mentally and physically challenged. The rest of the world allowed these atrocities to happen between 1939 – 1945 despite knowing they were taking place. The story of the MS St. Louis is one of hundreds of examples of complicity, silence and hatred.
On November 7, 2018, Canada officially apologized for refusing entry to Jewish refugees on the MS. St. Louis.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: “We used our laws to mask our anti-Semitism, our antipathy and our resentment…We refused to help them when we could have. We contributed to sealing the cruel fates of far too many at places like Auschwitz, Treblinka and Belzec. We failed them. And for that, we are sorry…we let antisemitism take hold in our communities and become our official policy.”
Then Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer: "Canada should have offered sanctuary to the passengers of the MS St. Louis. For our failure to do so then, we stand with the government today in its apology."
In recent years, the Jewish community has experienced a resurgence of Antisemitism. It is consistently the most targeted religious group for hate motivated crimes. Despite the fact Jewish people have been a fabric of Canadian society for more than 250 years, they are still targeted by right and left wing groups who are practicing hateful ideologies. Having learned the lessons of the MS St. Louis, Canada has opened its doors to hundreds of thousands of refugees arriving on its shores each year. But Antisemitism is still a battle Canada has yet to overcome.