For local educator Maura Lea Morykot, participating in an upcoming March of the Living Holocaust Educator Study Srip has great personal significance. “I’ve always felt a connection to that part of history because my great grandparents came over from Poland just after World War 1…I knew since high school that if I ever went to Poland, I would make that trip first I would go and see the concentration camps and take that all in. I always felt it was something I had to do.”
For the past 20 years, Morykot involved herself in various types of social justice work before revisiting the idea of making the journey to Germany and Poland. “When I found out that this trip was a possibility after becoming a teacher, I thought “I need to go on this [trip], this is the work I need to do.” With the help of the Upstairs Club and members of the local arts community, Morykot is holding a fundraiser to help pay for the costs of travel.
Entitled “Pro Peace”, the show will take place at The Upstairs club on June 30, 9:00pm to 1:00am with a $6 minimum donation.
In planning the event, Morykot didn’t want it to be just a fundraiser, but also a tool for raising awareness. With participation from active members of the arts community, Pro Peace is billed as a celebration of the arts through the themes of peace and love. Morykot explained the significance of the event title in conveying a positive message, saying “I feel like ‘pro peace’ is positive, and there is a lot of action in those words…I wanted to make sure there was some hope in the evening.”
The night’s performers include Black Tooth Grinn. Alicia Penney, Breagh McKinnon, Colette Deveaux, Newbury Jam, Ken Chisholm, Joella Foulds, Two Peas and a Pod, Wayne McKay, and Jenn Tubrett. Alongside music and readings, there will be Art and Jewelry by Ryan Robson, Julie Anna Morrison, Irene McKinnon, Diane Lewis, Nicole Bisson, Merredith MacDonald, and Ashley Boisvert.
The tour is organized by the Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust education centre of Toronto. The centre works to “safeguard the lessons of the the Holocaust in order to nurture an inclusive future.” The holocaust educators’ study tour is one part of the centre’s programming. The purpose of the tour will be to remember those who perished in the Holocaust, to work towards the elimination of anti-semitism, and to foster greater peace and understanding amongst peoples of all backgrounds. “When you’re a witness to something, you have a responsibility to teach others about it,” explained Morykot.
Morykot teaches grade 4 at Membertou elementary school, and is looking forward to using her experience on the trip to inform her own teaching methods and to educate other teachers and students. “My school has been very supportive of me going [on the tour]” said Morykot warmly. She noted that other local teachers and students have participated in the tour previously and have been active in teaching other students and educators about the holocaust. “Everyone teaches it at a different angle…they might do the artwork that was produced at that time, or the music, or the buildings and the architecture from world War II that they’ve been able to restore.”
To find out more about the March of the Living tour and the work of the Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre, visit holocausteducationweek.com.