Today, I join the UBC community in observing International Holocaust Remembrance Day and remembering the six million Jewish people and countless others who lost their lives during the Holocaust. We must never forget the heinous crimes perpetrated by the Nazi regime and its collaborators.
I am deeply concerned that antisemitism, discrimination and violence continue to be a lived reality for Jewish people today. Historically, we also know that antisemitism has been shown to intensify at times of social disruption. During the COVID-19 pandemic, B’nai Brith Canada’s Annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents—which serves as the authoritative document on antisemitism in Canada—reported a record number of antisemitism cases, up 18.3 per cent in 2020 compared to the year before the pandemic. According to the audit, more than seven antisemitic incidents occurred every day in 2020 and more than 44 per cent of violent incidents that year were COVID-19 related prejudices, with Jews being spat on and assaulted, often with weapons.
The numbers are alarming, but with knowledge and awareness, we have the power to take the necessary steps to push back against these forces of hatred. On behalf of the University, I condemn and denounce all incidents of discrimination, oppression and hatred against Jewish people here at home and around the world. Let me be clear that antisemitism and discrimination have no place here at UBC and will absolutely not be tolerated.
As part of my ongoing institutional commitment to building a more inclusive campus community, I will be meeting with members of UBC’s Jewish community in the coming months. I look forward to sitting down with them to hear about their experiences at UBC and to learn more about what I can do to help foster a campus community that is free of prejudice and is welcoming to all.
If you are experiencing hate or discrimination, please know that help is available. If you witness discrimination, I encourage you to take steps to support those in the situation. Below is a list of available supports and resources at UBC:
- If you believe you or others are in physical danger, contact Campus Security (call 604 822 2222) or the police (call 911) immediately.
- You can request an advising appointment with an impartial human rights advisor at the Equity and Inclusion Office.
- You may also want to contact the Office of the Ombudsperson for Students, an independent, impartial, and confidential resource that supports students in addressing and resolving concerns about unfair treatment at UBC.
- Other UBC staff members are available to help, such as academic advisors from your program or faculty or staff and faculty members in your department.
- The University provides a wide range of health and wellness resources, including counselling services.
- Hillel BC promotes Jewish life on campus and beyond, providing a warm, welcoming environment where students on BC campuses are able to grow religiously, culturally, socially and ethically. You can reach out to Rob Philipp, Executive Director at Rob@hillelbc.com.
- The University Multifaith Chaplains Association offers members of the UBC community an opportunity to engage with their spirituality and faith. Most chaplains offer one-on-one pastoral/spiritual counselling and opportunities to engage in exploring in the faith tradition they represent.
- The Chabad Jewish Student Centre Vancouver serves the Jewish student population at UBC and local community colleges with religious, educational, social, and recreational programming. The Centre strives to create a space where “Every Jew is Family” on campus for Jews of all backgrounds.
- Rabbi Chalom Loeub at the Chabad Jewish Student Centre also encourages students to reach out to him directly or any staff at Hillel BC for any help and support they may need. You can contact Rabbi Chalom by emailing email@example.com.
For more information on what to do if you experience or witness discrimination at UBC, click here.
This morning, the UBC Department of Central, Eastern and Northern European Studies is offering a guest lecture by Prof. Katarzyna Person (an historian at Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich and Jewish Historical Institute, Warsaw) in honour of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The lecture, “Jewish Order Service during the Nazi Occupation in the Warsaw Ghetto,” is part of the course “Representations of the Holocaust” but is open for others to attend. The lecture takes place today, Jan. 27, at 11am. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
Santa J. Ono
President and Vice-Chancellor