2487) Toronto District School Board Reaffirms Teaching of Armenian Genocide

Toronto--At a special meeting on June 2 the Program and School Services Committee (PSSC) of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) unanimously approved the recommendation of its Review Committee (RC) and its Director to include the Armenian Genocide in its Grade 11 genocide curriculum. Turkish groups have, in the past six months, lobbied against the inclusion of the Armenian Genocide in the Grade 11 curriculum. The PSSC recommendation now goes to the board's June 25th meeting for final adoption.

At the beginning of the meeting, the committee provided 20 minutes each for the Turkish and Ukrainian community representatives to make an oral deputation in regard to their concerns about the curriculum.

The Council of Turkish Canadians (CTC) objected to the inclusion of the Armenian Genocide in the curriculum and called for its removal. Furthermore, CTC threatened to take legal measures to halt the introduction of the curriculum if the board did not consent to the CTC demand.

A representative of the Muslim Canadian Congress, Farzana Hassan, turned the curriculum teaching issue to a religious crusade. She accused the board and the Western world of religious bias. She made similar accusations against Canadian media, specially the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star newspapers. Two Turkish parents also made presentations.

Ukrainian community representatives commended the board for introducing the "worthy program", but they objected to the omission of the Ukrainian famine/genocide from the curriculum. They urged the PSSC to reconsider the exclusion of the Ukrainian case.

In responding to a question from trustee Gerri Gershon, David Rowan, associate director of TDSB, reassured the Ukrainian community that the Ukrainian famine /genocide, even though it is not in the curriculum as a separate unit on its own, it will be discussed and taught in many forms during the curriculum teaching.

After the presentations, the committee unanimously voted to adopt the recommendations without any changes.

Based on yesterday's meeting and the approval of the recommendations, the Armenian Genocide will be part of the Grade 11 genocide curriculum and it will be taught as one of the three case studies along with the Holocaust and the Rwandan Genocide and as a separate unit.

In regard to Barbara Coloroso's book, Extraordinary Evil: A Brief History of Genocide, even though it will not be required reading, it will be included in the curriculum as resource material.

Representatives of the Armenian National Committee of Canada (ANCC), the Greek and Cypriot communities, Zoryan Institute, the Armenian Certified Teachers Association, the Armenian Community Centre of Toronto, Armen Karo Student Association, the Armenian National Committee of Toronto, and many other supporters of the curriculum turned out in large numbers to attend the meeting.

ANCC President, Dr. Girair Basmadjian, commended the TDSB for upholding its moral and ethical principles and for not wavering in the face of unprecedented revisionist campaign to falsify and rewrite the history of the Armenian Genocide. -By approving the recommendations, TDSB proved that the Turkish government interference and manipulation of academic institutions and its attempt to suppress freedom of expression is a failed policy. We are confident the curriculum will create better understanding between Turkish and Armenian students and will help them rationalize their common history,- stated Dr. Basmadjian

Aris Babikian, executive director of ANCC, criticized the Turkish representatives who tried to use an educational forum to promote unsubstantiated accusation against the Armenian community by insinuating that Armenians are teaching hatred against Turks in their churches, schools and community centres. -Once again, we would like to emphasize that we do not have any conflict with the Canadian-Turkish community. At issue is the Turkish government's denial policy. A policy which Turkish ultranationalist are using to whip hysteria and animosity between the two people. A policy which simply does not fit with the school boards view of history, nor that of Canadians generally,- said Babikian.

Armenian National Committee of Canada Press Release June 3, 2008
The ANCC is the largest and the most influential Canadian-Armenian grassroots political organization. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout Canada and affiliated organizations around the world, the ANCC actively advances the concerns of the Canadian-Armenian community on a broad range of issues.

Looks Like The Genocide Course In Toronto Has An Open Ending
Too Many Holocausts By Brett Clarkson
School trustees face the conflicting wrath of many in bid to limit genocide course

Tears flowed, shouting matches erupted and a chorus of boos rang out after a Toronto District School Board committee voted last night to go ahead with a controversial Grade 11 course on genocide.

The packed meeting at the school board's headquarters on Yonge St., at Sheppard Ave., saw a delegation of Ukrainian Canadians pleading with the board to include the 1932-33 Soviet-engineered famine that killed millions of Ukrainians included in the course.

Turkish Canadians also protested the inclusion of the 1915 Armenian genocide in the curriculum. Armenian Canadians, on the other hand, lobbied the board to keep the slaughter of 1.5 million of their ancestors -- at the hands of the ruling Ottoman Empire -- in the course.

The three-member committee voted in favour of director of education Gerry Connelly's recommendations to base the course specifically around the Holocaust, the Armenian Genocide, and the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

But the decision isn't final.

The recommendations will go to a vote of the full board of trustees within three weeks, Connelly said.

She added the course's intent isn't to deem certain genocides more worthy of study than others, but to use the three cases as examples.

"It's not a survey course of all the genocides," Connelly said. "The intent is to take these as an example and use them in order to help students become more critical thinkers and to understand the impact of crimes against humanity and to actually go out and be advocates to ensure this never happens again."

Members of the Ukrainian community said they were "insulted" by the decision.

"I was insulted; our community was insulted," said Markian Shwec, president of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress.

Armenian Canadians expressed relief the board didn't heed the Turkish-Canadians demand to expunge the Armenian genocide from ther course. Outside the meeting, Turkish Canadians who dispute the Armenian claims that they suffered a genocide, argued with the Armenian Canadians.

Toronto Sun www.torontosun.com June 3 2008 Canada

Armenian ‘genocide' becomes optional course in Toronto
The Toronto District School Board has given the green light for the study of an alleged genocide of Armenians in the final years of the Ottoman Empire in an optional course, the Anatolia news agency reported.

The course, titled "Crimes and Genocides Committed against Humanity," will include studies of the Holocaust, which saw the extermination of 6 million Jews during World War II, the Rwandan slaughter of nearly 1 million Tutsis and moderate Hutus in 1994 and the killings of Anatolian Armenians at the beginning of the last century.

A petition campaign was launched by Turks living in Canada opposing the decision in Toronto to include the alleged Armenian genocide in the course. Nevertheless, the Toronto District School Board disregarded the 11,000 petitions collected in the online campaign, Anatolia reported. In January, the Unity Group, consisting of several Turkish NGOs in Canada, said the course would put the safety of Turkish and Muslim students at risk. The group called on authorities to reverse the decision to include the course in the 2008-2009 curriculum.

The course will still need to go to a vote of the full board of trustees before it receives final approval, the Canadian media reported, while Anatolia said there was a three-week period for appealing the school board's decision.
05 June 2008, TODAY'S ZAMAN