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Holocaust Survivor shares poignant story with community September 30th

“I cannot live in the past, but I must live with it. Perhaps writing my story will weaken the hold the past has had on me.”
Eva Olsson

Holocaust Survivor Eva Olsson will share her poignant and powerful life story with the community at a special evening presentation being hosted by Rainbow District School Board on Wednesday, September 30th, 2009. Parents/guardians are encouraged to attend along with their children (Grade 6 and up).

The presentation will take place at 7 pm in the Sheridan Auditorium at Sudbury Secondary School, 85 Mackenzie Street, Sudbury. It is free and everyone is welcome. A donation of canned food for the Food Bank would be appreciated.

The outbreak of World War II plunged Eva Olsson into the heart of the Holocaust concentration camps, slave labour factories, disease, and the deaths of millions, including most of her family. Eva’s PowerPoint presentation contains images from the Holocaust and pictures taken when she retraced her life in 2007, visiting her birthplace as well as three concentration camps. 

“When people ask me how long I intend to do this important work, I remind them that bullying and genocide are still happening in many parts of the world,” says Olsson. “Unfortunately, because these problems – caused by hate and intolerance – will always be with us, I’m going to keep speaking as long as I can. Then I can honestly say to the millions of people whose voices were so cruelly silenced by the Nazis ‘You have not been forgotten’.”

Eva Olsson uses the Holocaust and her experiences as a springboard to discuss key issues – the power of hate and the need to stop it wherever it occurs; the importance of not being a bystander when bad things are happening; the importance of having compassion and respect for ourselves and others; and the need for the education system to go beyond the three Rs and help students develop good character.

“When students hear Eva Olsson speak they are captivated by her story and moved to positive action,” says Director of Education Jean Hanson. “We welcome this opportunity to invite the broader community to experience her journey. This is certainly a wonderful opportunity for parents and students to attend together.”

Eva Olsson was born on October 28, 1924 in Szatmar, Hungary (now Satu Mare, Romania), one of six children in a poor Hasidic family. On May 15, 1944, she and her family were taken away in boxcars to Auschwitz-Birkenau, part of what we now know as the Holocaust, Hitler’s attempt to exterminate all the Jews of Europe.

Eva’s autobiography Unlocking the Doors: A Woman’s Struggle Against Intolerance, published in 2001, describes her life before, during, and after these events. Her most recent book, Remembering Forever: A Journey of Darkness and Light was published in 2008 and recounts her journey back to her roots. Her life story is also the subject of a documentary.

Over the last 12 years, Eva has spoken to over one million people in schools, service clubs, and churches, on armed forces bases, and at police force conferences. She has also addressed conferences at Queen’s Park and the United Nations.

Increasingly, the focus of her message is bullying and the importance of not being a bystander to injustice. She uses her life experiences, primarily in the Holocaust, to illustrate the power of hate and the importance of standing up against forces of racism, bigotry, and intolerance.

Her message resonates deeply with a wide variety of audiences, as evidenced by the thousands of letters and emails she has received. In recognition of her work, Eva Olsson was awarded on honourary doctorate by Nipissing University in 2005. On January 24, 2008, she was inducted into the Order of Ontario, the province’s highest official honour. 

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Media Contact:

Nicole Charette, Senior Advisor,
Corporate Communications and Strategic Planning,
Rainbow District School Board, 674-3171, ext. 7217.

Schedule of School Presentations

Monday, September 28, 2009
10:00 a.m. – Lasalle Secondary School
12:15 p.m. – Sudbury Secondary School

Tuesday, September 29, 2009
9:30 a.m. – Lively District Secondary School
12:00 p.m. – Chelmsford Valley District Composite School
1:30 p.m.- Confederation Secondary School

Wednesday, September 30, 2009   
10:10 a.m.- Lockerby Composite School
12:30 p.m. – Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School
7 pm – Sheridan Auditorium, Sudbury Secondary School (community presentation)

Thursday, October 1, 2009
9:30 a.m. –    Espanola High School
12:55 p.m.    – Manitoulin Secondary School