The Canada Collection is a compilation of more than 1,250 Holocaust testimonies conducted by several institutions in Canada.
Amassing the bulk of these audio-visual oral history recordings were the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre the Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre in Toronto.
Without USC Shoah Foundation’s Preserving the Legacy initiative, these testimonies would be at risk for loss. They bring to life the communities that were destroyed and the pre-Holocaust lives of survivors and their families as well as the experiences of the Jews who faced genocide during World War II. They speak to horror, murder and despair, but also courage, hope, and the ability to rebuild. As a result of this partnership, these 1,250 testimonies are being digitized and fully indexed so as to serve the purposes for which they were so painfully recorded, clarifying the Canadian story in relation to the Holocaust and Jewish immigration to Canada post-1945.
In 1989, volunteers with the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre began conducting interviews with survivors in a small studio at the Centre. (Learn more about Alice Herscovitch, Executive Director of the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre)
All told, they collected 550. Like the testimonies in the Visual History Archive, these life stories covered the survivors’ lives before, during and after the war. Particular emphasis was placed on survivors’ tales of settling in Canada, since they show how Canadian society evolved after the war and also how Jews were able to thrive in their new home.
In 1985, a group of Holocaust survivors founded The Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre. Visited by about 30,000 students each year, the Centre presents commemorative and educational programming for the community to honor dates of remembrance. The Centre has collected 430 audiovisual testimonies of Holocaust survivors.
Other contributors include McGill University, Canadian Jewish Congress Charities Committee National Archives, the Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling at Concordia University, Ottawa Jewish Archives, Freeman Family Foundation Holocaust Education Centre and Jewish Archives and Historical Society of Edmonton and Northern Alberta, and Calgary Jewish Federation.
USC Shoah Foundation began the painstaking task of indexing the testimonies so researchers and others using the Visual History Archive can search for specific sections using key words and phrases.