Ai Yi-Ying

Ai Yi-ying is a survivor of the 1937 Nanjing Massacre, otherwise known as the “Rape of Nanking”.  When the Japanese invaded, her family was trapped, and many were killed at the outset.  Ms. Ai’s mother managed to save some of the family members, and they were able to escape to the nearby mountains, evading the Japanese and managing to keep starvation at bay.  Even after the massacre subsided, Ms. Ai recalls that many Chinese civilians who survived the ordeal continued to hide from the Japanese soldiers, all the while dealing with other harsh wartime realities.

Ms. Ai spoke to participants on the Alpha Education Peace and Reconciliation Tour in July 2017, with the hope that her story carries a message of social justice to future generations.  Translation was facilitated by Wang Junyi of the Nanjing Memorial Hall of the Victims.

In July 2017 Crestwood teacher Scott Masters took part in Alpha Education’s Peace and Reconciliation Tour.  Seventeen educators, activists, lawyers, and documentarians toured China and Korea, learning about the Asian perspective on the Second World War, and exploring ways to raise awareness of this side of the war to a non-Asian audience.  The tour was organized by Don Tow, as part of his ongoing efforts to stimulate social justice education and to improve Asian-American understanding and relationships.

Please note that this interview is i.n Chinese, with the English translation at the end of each segment.

Ali, Habeeb

Mr. Habeeb Ali has been a friend of Crestwood since 2013, when he welcomed Crestwood students to the Toronto Islamic Foundation as part of our Houses of Worship Field trip. In addition to his scholarship on Islam, and his experience as an educator, Mr. Ali works with the International Development and Relief Foundation.

In December 2013, Mr. Ali visited Mr. Hawkins’ World Religions class as part of the “Beliefs” unit. Having studied the beliefs of Islam in class, students were primed with questions regarding the application of Muslim beliefs to multicultural, democratic Canadian society. Mr. Ali’s answers to students’ questions provided great insight to a faith that is often misconstrued and misrepresented in the Western media.

Amani

Anne-Marie Woods, aka Amani, is a Toronto performer who visited Crestwood for a Black History Month presentation in February 2017.  She entertained and educated students with her show Journey Into Me, a series of songs, raps and spoken word mixed in with her unique storytelling style. Journey Into Me is the story of how Black History and the Performing Arts changed Amani’s life. Amani has received many artist awards and grants, including the prestigious BBPA Harry Jerome Award for Entertainer of the Year. She has also done countless presentations for schools, corporations and organizations and has worked for various organizations such as CBC Radio, Young Peoples Theatre, and Artscape. Her new play, SHE SAID/HE SAID – a Theatrical Rhapsody – had a World Premiere in Montreal in 2016 at the MAI produced by Black Theatre Workshop Montreal. Her latest production The Three Friends, a new play on African Canadian History and Race Relations, just had a show at the Richmond Hill Performing Arts Centre and the Georgian Theatre in Barrie, Ontario.   Amani has performed and facilitated workshops in Canada, the United States, London, England and Trinidad West Indies. As a youth she had to overcome behavioural problems and cultural challenges and she believes that if she did not learn about channeling her energy towards something more positive or the importance of Black History and Culture that she would not have achieved any of the goals she has accomplished today. She wants everyone here to know that if she can change; then anyone can and that performing is an amazing and positive outlet.

We at Crestwood thank Amani for her performance and the oral history interview she was kind enough to do.

Augustine, Jean

In 1993, Canadian politician Jean Augustine became the first Black woman elected to the Parliament of Canada. An advocate of social justice, she worked as the principal of an elementary school before entering politics. Among her accomplishments as an MP was the introduction of a motion, passed unanimously, to have February proclaimed as Black History Month in Canada.

Born in St. George’s, Grenada, Jean Augustine was a qualified teacher when she arrived in Canada in 1959, but had to work as a domestic before her employment in Ontario schools.  Mrs. Augustine became a school principal and supported many social causes.

During her years as a federal member of parliament, the Honourable Jean Augustine served as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister of Canada, Chair of the National Liberal Women’s Caucus, Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and the Status of Women, Chair of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Deputy Speaker. In March 2007 she became the first Fairness Commissioner for the province of Ontario.

We are so proud to have hosted Mrs. Augustine at Crestwood; she visited us in April 2016, when she spoke to an audience of YARRD/Me to We members, along with students in the female peer leadership group.  The students took Mrs. Augustine’s words to hear, and we expect that they will put those words into action!

Azarov, Vladimir

Vladimir Azarov grew up against the backdrop of Stalin’s Soviet Union.  He and family were relocated to Kazakstan while Vladimir was young; a standout memory involves a confrontation between his mother and a secret police officer.  In spite of the hardships, Vladimir had many fond memories of his early life, and it gave him the inspiration and drive to pursue a new life in Canada, and to find his way as a poet and an architect.

Vladimir was interviewed for this project by Cassidy Daniels in March 2013.

Bharucha, Daraius

Daraius Bharucha is a past president of the Zoroastrian Association of Canada, and a winner of the 2012 Governor-General’s Award for Teaching Excellence.  In November 2014 he visited us at Crestwood, when he sat down with a group of students from Mr. Masters’ World Religions class, sharing his insights into this ancient faith.  Daraius is a fantastic storyteller/raconteur, and his explanations helped the students to see the multifaceted role of all religions, even in a secular society like Canada.  The students completed this oral history project as a group, and they and Mr. Masters thank Daraius for his time and generosity.

Boothe, Shaun

Shaun Boothe is a fixture in the Toronto hip hop community, one we have been proud to host a number of times at Crestwood.  He first visited The CHC classes in 2011, where he showed Mr. Masters’ and Mr. Hawkins’ classes an alternative approach to modern history, using hip hop as a means to teach about some key figures in recent history.  These can be seen at http://shaunboothe.com/1.0/biography-series/.

We were so impressed that we had to have him back, and he was the keynote, end-of-day speaker at Crestwood’s First Diversity and Human Rights Symposium in November 2013, where he delivered a message of hope to hundreds of students from schools all across Toronto.  This year he visited Crestwood with John T. Davis and Shelley Hamilton, whose interviews are also posted on this webpage.  The three together delivered a Black History Month presentation on music and the generations, showing how music creates an important thread in the African-Canadian community.

Boyd, John

John Boyd was born in Alberta in 1915.  He grew up against the backdrop of the Great Depression, though he said he was lucky to have been sheltered from the toughest times.  The harsh conditions did push his politics to the left, and John was attracted to the leftist ideals of the time.  After graduating high school in Vegreville, he made his way to Toronto, where he eventually joined the armed forces, choosing the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals.  After training John was selected as an editor for the army magazine The Signalman.  He pursued this occupation after the war too, as journalism was a natural fit for John.

We met John at the Sunnybrook Veterans Wing in July 2017, when he was interviewed by Crestwood students Arielle Meyer and Samara Black.

 

Broere, Marie

Marie Broere was born in 1926 in Rotterdam. As a teenager, Marie witnessed the Rotterdam Blitz of 1940. Marie remembers her daily life, living under the German occupation of Holland. She remembers her father being taken from the streets by German soldiers, and managing to escape and return with his family. Being the eldest child in her family, and wanting to help her family through the severe conditions of the Hunger Winter, Marie went to stay with her grandmother, where she worked on a farm in Lekkerkerk until the end of the war. Marie witnessed the liberation of the Netherlands, and in 1958 she immigrated to Canada with her husband and two children.

We met Marie Broere in April 2017 at the Castle Peak Retirement Suites in Bracebridge, where she presently lives.  Marie is one of several authors/editors who assembled At Your Age, a collection of stories of those who live there.  The residents felt it was important for them to record their stories, which serve as a great entry point into their generation’s collective experiences.

Chambers, Mary Anne

Mary Anne Chambers is someone who understands the power of community involvement. After emigrating from Jamaica with her family, she succeeded in the worlds of business and politics, first as a vice-president with Scotiabank, and then as an MPP and cabinet minister in Dalton McGuinty’s cabinet. All the while, she has worked tirelessly as a volunteer for a multitude of agencies. She came to us through Passages to Canada, speaking to Crestwood students about her early years in Canada and her working life, and giving them important insights into the possibilities of Canadian multiculturalism.

Chen Chun Hua

Chen Chunhua is a Chinese citizen who was a victim of Japanese germ warfare during the Second World War.  She and her team are actively seeking justice and medical treatment for the ways in which she and so many others were attacked and harmed during that distant conflict.  One of her advocates, Mr. Wu Jianping,  is currently the President of the Quzhou Germ Warfare Victims Association, and he is using his position to advocate for himself and so many others whose claims are still not being acknowledged by the Japanese.  Ms. Chen was a child during the war, and she has suffered from rotten leg syndrome through her whole adult life, with successful treatment only being discovered in in the last few years.   The physicians who treated her, Zhang Yuanhai and Ye Chunjiang, of Zhejiang Quhua Hospital in Quzhou are heard here as well, discussing how they dealy with Mrs. Chen and the hundreds of other vicitims in the Quzhou region.

Ms. Chen and her team of physicians and advocates spoke to participants on the Alpha Education Peace and Reconciliation Tour in July 2017, with the hope that her story carries a message of social justice to future generations.  Translation was facilitated by Wu Jianping, Zhang Yuanhai and Shelby Song, one of the tour participants.

In July 2017 Crestwood teacher Scott Masters took part in Alpha Education’s Peace and Reconciliation Tour.  Seventeen educators, activists, lawyers, and documentarians toured China and Korea, learning about the Asian perspective on the Second World War, and exploring ways to raise awareness of this side of the war to a non-Asian audience.  The tour was organized by Don Tow, as part of his ongoing efforts to stimulate social justice education and to improve Asian-American understanding and relationships.

Please note that this interview is in Chinese, with the English translation at the end of each segment.

Chen Lifei

In July 2017 Crestwood teacher Scott Masters took part in Alpha Education’s Peace and Reconciliation Tour.  Seventeen educators, activists, lawyers, and documentarians toured China and Korea, learning about the Asian perspective on the Second World War, and exploring ways to raise awareness of this side of the war to an international audience.  The tour was organized by Don Tow, as part of his ongoing efforts to stimulate social justice education and to improve Asian-American understanding and relationships.  Many difficult issues were raised and studied during this tour, including that of the “comfort women”, the euphemism the Japanese developed to describe the young women forced into sexual slavery for Japanese soldiers.  While in China, the members of the Alpha Tour were able to meet with Chen Lifei, of Shanghai Normal University. Ms. Chen has been studying this aspect of the war and she was kind enough to share her research with us.

Please note that this interview is in Chinese, with the English translation at the end of each segment.

Ciano, Sergio

Sergio Ciano was a young boy when World War Two began. He lived in Somalia, an Italian colony in Northern Africa. His father was an officer in the Italian Military Police. Sergio was interviewed for this project by Lowell Williams in early 2009.

Clarke, George Elliott

George Elliott Clarke is a Canadian poet and playwright who is currently serving as the Canadian Parliamentary Poet Laureate.  His work largely explores the experience and history of the Black Canadian communities of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, creating a cultural geography that Clarke refers to as “Africadia”.  Of Afro-Metis origin, George is also researching that side of his family’s history.  George played a special role in Crestwood’s November 10, 2016 “Towards Reconciliation” Symposium, when he read his poem “Identity”.

Cournoyea, Joe

Joe Cournoyea was born in the Tweed, Ontario in the early 1920s.  He grew up against the backdrop of the Great Depression, in a large family in a rural area of eastern Ontario.  While four of his older brothers served in the Second World War, Joe and the younger children worked the family farm, though Joe set out on his own at an early age, working with a local tanner.  Too young to serve in that war, Joe followed his family’s military tradition and went to Korea and Germany when his military career began.  He served as part of Canada’s peacekeeping missions in those places in the 1950s and 60s.  When his service concluded, Joe returned to Canada and built a life for himself, working in the civil service, where he recalled his time as a driver for both John Diefenbaker and Lester B. Pearson.

We met Joe at the Sunnybrook Veterans Wing in July 2017, when he was interviewed by Crestwood students Arielle Meyer and Samara Black.

Daniel, Carmi

Carmi Daniel is a representative of Hashomer Hatzair, an NGO that works on behalf of Israeli causes and issues.  he was interviewed in December 2013 by Politics 12 student Matthew Cohen.

Davis, John T.

John T. Davis is a legend on the Toronto music scene, where he is known professionally as a high energy jazz/blues/gospel organ player. The Hammond B3 Organ is his instrument of choice, but he also plays the piano and synthesizer, and sings.
John also arranges music, playing originals and standards of many diverse styles, both instrumental and vocal, written by the many great musicians who have influenced him over time.   John was born in Virginia in 1945, where he grew up and went to school against the backdrop of the Jim Crow of the segregated American South.
We were pleased to host John at Crestwood this year.  He visited us in February with Shaun Boothe and Shelley Hamilton, whose interviews are also posted on this webpage.  The three together delivered a Black History Month presentation on music and the generations, showing how music creates an important thread in the African-Canadian community.

Deverell, Rita

Rita Deverell was born in Houston Texas, 1945. She is an only child who grew up in the United States.  She moved to Canada in 1967 to be with her husband. She got an M.A. in the history of religion soon after immigrating.  Rita has had many jobs such as being on a school tour for the Globe theatre, a playwright,  journalist, and the Director of News and Current Affairs at APTN.  She faced segregation in her childhood, and soon after moving to Canada she fought for aboriginal rights.  Rita Deverell was interviewed for this project in January 2017 by Anthony Radford-Grant.

Du Peizhen

Du Peizhen was born in 1932 in Tieling, China. Her father was an officer who worked in the court, and her mother was a teacher. She should have had a happy and affluent family at that time, but Japan had occupied the North East of China at that time, called Manchuria. She directly experienced World War II when she was young.  Unfortunately, she had to face every cruel and ruthless thing at that time because she needed to keep alive.  What made her most afraid was the alarm ringing, and she lived with the glass that on window was covered by paper, which was explosion-proof. She was afraid to go out the door, and she could not go to school at that time.

Du Peizhen visited Crestwood on Feb. 1,  2017, along with her granddaughter Miracle, to do this interview where she shared her unforgettable memories with everyone about the history in China during WW2.

Ebrahim, Kassim

Kassim Ebrahim grew up during the Apartheid era in South Africa. Later a teacher in Rhodesia and Zambia, he eloquently provided Crestwood students with a glimpse into the history of Apartheid, as well as telling them his own stories and sharing his memories. We met him through the Noor Cultural Center in Toronto, where he initially shared his stories with Crestwood students.  He has since visited us at Crestwood, where he spoke to the World religions class in March 2015.

Elliott, Omar

Omar Elliott came to us courtesy of the Noor Culture Centre, a mosque and Islamic Centre in the Crestwood neighbourhood. Omar is from Guyana and has travelled extensively, living in South America, Europe, Asia , and North America. He spoke to a group of Crestwood students about his experiences and life’s lessons along his personal journey.

Fahmy, Charazad

Crestwood has been very fortunate to build a partnership with the Noor Cultural Centre in the last few years. Kassim Ebrahim and Samira Khanji have welcomed us and have taught Crestwood students some very important lessons about Islam and tolerance and diversity. We visit each year, and members of the Noor community generously have shared their personal stories and views and have agreed to be part of this project. One of the people we met this year was Charazad Fahmy, who was interviewed by members of Mr. Hawkins’ World Religions class in April 2012. Mrs. Fahmy shared with the students her impressions of the Arab Spring, and of her own life in Egypt, and she brought to life so many of the issues presently facing Canadian Muslims.

Flanzraich, Aaron

Rabbi Aaron Flanzraich, was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1966. A graduate of Bar Ilan University, he was admitted into the University’s prestigious Advanced Talmudic Institute. In 1990, he received a dual ordination from Yeshivat Sha’ar Ephraim and the Israeli Chief Rabbinate. He has been the senior rabbi at Temple Beth Sholom in Toronto since 1998, where he has instituted a Kosher Food Bank, a summer work program for Jewish teenagers, and has assisted in implementing the Out of the Cold Program for the homeless.

Rabbi Flanzraich visited Crestwood’s World Religions class in February 2015, where he addresses a variety of topics and questions.

Gao Xiongfei and Li Liangjei

Gao Xiongfei and Li Liangjei are Chinese citizens who were victims of Japan’s system of forced labour during the Second World War.  Both of them are actively seeking justice for the ways in which they were exploited and harmed during that distant conflict.  Mr. Li is currently the President of the Chinese Slave Laborer Association, and he is using his position to advocate for himself and so many others whose claims are still not being acknowledged by the Japanese.  Mr. Gao was a child during the war, whose parents were used as slave labourers, and he was grievously wounded during a bombing attack, where he and his mother both lost their arms.  He has filed suit against the Japanese government, and remains committed to getting a settlement, not only for himself but in his parents’ memory.

Mr. Gao and Mr. Li spoke to participants on the Alpha Education Peace and Reconciliation Tour in July 2017, with the hope that their story carries a message of social justice to future generations.  Translation was facilitated by Shelby Song, one of the tour participants.

In July 2017 Crestwood teacher Scott Masters took part in Alpha Education’s Peace and Reconciliation Tour.  Seventeen educators, activists, lawyers, and documentarians toured China and Korea, learning about the Asian perspective on the Second World War, and exploring ways to raise awareness of this side of the war to a non-Asian audience.  The tour was organized by Don Tow, as part of his ongoing efforts to stimulate social justice education and to improve Asian-American understanding and relationships.

Please note that this interview is in Chinese, with the English translation at the end of each segment.

Gould, Dennis and Raybell

Dennis and Raybell Gould are the grandparents of Crestwood student Sarah Gould.  Dennis and Raybell grew up in wartime England, where they experienced the bombings, the rationing, and the general anxiety of life in England at war.  Dennis enlisted in the Royal Navy near the end of the war, and he served aboard the HMS Malaya.

They were interviewed by Sarah at their home in March 2013.

Gutmanas, Aleks

Aleks Gutmanas is the External Secretary for the Bahai Community of Toronto. He visited Ms. Laforest’s World Religions 11 class in the fall of 2009 and later sat down with Alix Postan, Sy Greenberg, and John Shahidi for an interview.

Hall, John

John Hall was born in the Canadian West in the early 1920s.  He grew up against the backdrop of the Great Depression, though he said he was lucky to have been sheltered from the toughest times.  With his brother he made his way to western Ontario, riding the rails and working the ports of Lake Superior.  While his brother stayed and worked the mines, John finished school and joined the armed forces in Toronto, eventually landing in the First Hussars.  After training he boarded the Queen Elizabeth troopship and headed to Britain, where he spent time in Aldershot, completing his tank crew training.  John became a radio operator and main gun loader and a member of a Sherman tank crew.  John went ashore in France a few weeks after D-Day and the liberation of Caen, and he saw his early action in Falaise and the ensuing Battle of Normandy.  From there he moved through Belgium and the Netherlands, where he has fond memories of the civilians greeting the troops.  When the war concluded, John returned to Canada and built a life for himself.

We met John at the Sunnybrook Veterans Wing in July 2017, when he was interviewed by Crestwood students Arielle Meyer and Samara Black.

 

Hamilton, Shelley

Shelley Hamilton is a singer/entertainer based in Toronto, and one we have gotten to know very well over the years at Crestwood.  Shelley is a woman of many talents, whose diverse portfolio can be seen at her website at http://www.shelleyhamilton.ca/.  She has done supply teaching here and has been involved in many Black History Month initiatives at Crestwood.  These have included vocal workshops, historical studies of the Harlem Renaissance, and performances of her one woman play “A New Hope”, based on the historical accounts of John Clarkson’s mission to America in 1791 to improve the conditions of the Black Loyalists in Nova Scotia and to promote the colonization of Sierra Leone in Africa. The storyteller, through the voices of those who made the journey to Nova Scotia, tells of their hardships and hopes for a better life in this new land. The show has received widespread acclaim, and we were proud to host it at Crestwood.

This year Ms. Hamilton visited Crestwood with John T. Davis and Shaun Boothe, whose interviews are also posted on this webpage.  The three together delivered a Black History Month presentation on music and the generations, showing how music creates an important thread in the African-Canadian community.

Hylton, John

John Hylton grew up in 1940s England, where his childhood was deeply impacted by wartime events. He remembers the Battle of Britain, the rationing, the V-1 attacks, and most importantly he remembers his father’s service as a physician. John was interviewed for this project by Alec Maavara.

Ikeda, Sid

Sid Ikeda is a past president of the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre in Toronto. As a young boy he was relocated along with his family in the British Columbia interior, where he experienced the internment camps. He was interviewed by Colin Walker in January 2009 and has since come back to Crestwood several times to speak to classes.

Jal, Emmanuel

Emmanuel Jal was born in the Sudan on an unknown date in the early 1980s.  He went through a series of  struggles, including time spent as a child soldier in that nation’s civil war.  Emmanuel managed to survive that time, and after being rescued by an aid worker, he went on to build a life, first in the UK, and then in Canada.  In addition to his studies and emotional recovery, he emerged as a recording artist, achieving worldwide acclaim for his unique style of hip hop with its message of peace and reconciliation.  Emmanuel has also branched out in other directions, as seen in his ideal of the accidental entrepreneur.
Emmanuel visited Crestwood in May 2017, when he spoke to the World Issues classes.  Crestwood students were moved by his words and performance, and we look forward to seeing him on a future occasion.

Jones, Eve

We met Eve Jones at the Castle Peak Retirement Suites in Bracebridge, where she presently lives.  Eve is one of several authors/editors who assembled At Your Age, a collection of stories of those who live there.  The residents felt it was important for them to record their stories, which serve as a great entry point into their generation’s collective experiences.

Eve’s own story very much centres around her artistic ambitions; born in Winnipeg, Eve had a powerful voice that led her to a career in song.  She worked her way to the Toronto Conservatory, and was among Canada’s top stars of the 50s.  She ventured across the country and performed with the likes of Robert Goulet.  From there, she settled in the Toronto area, where she and her husband raised their family, and she stayed in the arts, teaching piano, including the song “Chopsticks”, subject of a motif here.

Jull, Megan

Megan Jull is the Pastoral Associate at All Saints’ Kingsway Anglican Church and is a postulant for ordination in the Diocese of Toronto.  This means that she is in the midst of the training and formation required to become a priest in the Anglican Church.  She hosts a popular blog where she posts a collection of theological wonderings and a reflections.
Megan visited the World religions 11 class at Crestwood in April 2015, sharing with the students her insights into what Christianity means to her and why it is relevant in present day Canada.  She also shared many of the vestments used by Anglican priests, allowing the students to model them and to explore their symbolic meanings.

Katz, Eugene

Eugene Katz was born in Dyszna, Poland in in 1927.  He was one of five children, growing up in a Jewish family not too far from Vilna; he recalls a difficult life, beset by hunger and poverty, but also filled with family and friends.  When war came in 1939, Eugene’s family was in eastern Poland, the part of the country assigned to the USSR in the infamous 1939 Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact.  The family suddenly found itself under Soviet domination; as big a change as this was, life continued, though clear signs of Soviet communism began to enter their lives.  1941 saw the real change though…Germany initiated Operation Barbarossa, and within a matter of days Eugene’s family was under the heel of the Nazi regime.  The family was quickly put in a ghetto, and Eugene’s oldest sister Sophie was murdered.  Life became increasingly difficult in the ghetto, as the young Eugene and his family struggled to survive.  Then the darkest of days arrived, with the liquidation of the ghetto by the Einsatzgruppen.  Most of Eugene’s family was taken to a killing site and murdered.  Eugene was there, witnessing these terrible events, but he and his brother escaped, taking advantage of the fog and running into the forest.  Now a teenager, Eugene joined the Russian partisans, and he managed to survive four intense years of warfare, often the victim of political intrigue and anti-Semitism in the Red Army.  Very crafty and clever and willing to do what he had to, Eugene made it, the only member of his family to survive the war and the Shoah.  He began to rebuild his life, marrying and working in Riga, and in the 50s he made it to Poland, and from there Canada.  Every step of the way his survival instinct kept him afloat, and he went on to create a prosperous business in postwar Canada, helping to build the country we know today.

Eugene Katz was interviewed at his home in July 2017, by Crestwood teacher Scott Masters.  The interview was set up courtesy of the Jewish War Veterans Association of Toronto.

Kielburger, Marc

Marc Kielburger is a co-founder of Free the Children. He and his brother saw a need to do something to help underprivileged children around the world, so they started up this influential NGO when they were teenagers. Their work shows that people of all ages can break the bonds of apathy and make a real difference, even in the most distant parts of the planet.

Free the Children has taken Crestwood students to many places, including a trip to Ecuador last year. This year we were fortunate to be able to welcome Marc to our school, where he spoke at an assembly for students from both the upper and lower schools on his important message of charity. Marc also sat down with several high school students for an interview for this Oral History Project.

Kim Han Soo

Kim Han Soo was born in northern Korea in 1918, during the time of Japanese occupation.  When the Japanese invaded the Chinese in 1937, Mr. Kim remembers an offhand remark from a Japanese officer, bragging about a Chinese girl he had raped and murdered.  It would prove to be a powerful lesson for Mr. Kim, setting him on a path to righteous behaviour.  Like many Koreans of his generation, Mr. Kim was conscripted for the Japanese war effort.  First, he worked for a salt concern Korea’s north; later he was tricked by the Japanese into thinking he was needed for a lumber work project.  He ended up in Pusan, and from there he was sent to Nagasaki, Japan, where he worked in the city’s shipyards.

Mr. Kim spoke to participants from the Alpha Education Peace and Reconciliation Tour in July 2017, with the hope that his story carries a message of peace to future generations.   Translation was facilitated by Ahn Minseob, a graduate of Crestwood’s Class of 2012, and one of Mr. Masters’ former students.

In July 2017 Crestwood teacher Scott Masters took part in Alpha Education’s Peace and Reconciliation Tour.  Seventeen educators, activists, lawyers, and documentarians toured China and Korea, learning about the Asian perspective on the Second World War, and exploring ways to raise awareness of this side of the war to a non-Asian audience.  The tour was organized by Don Tow, as part of his ongoing efforts to stimulate social justice education and to improve Asian-American understanding and relationships.

Please note this interview is in Korean, with English overdubs.

Lane, Ruth

Ruth Lane grew up in Wales, in the U.K.  She was six when World War Two began, and her memories of childhood against the backdrop of wartime restrictions remind us that the war was about much more than the battlefield itself.  Ruth recalled the American soldiers stationed nearby, the rationing, the bombing, and the disruptions of life that typified those years.

She also vividly recalls her family; her mother was a teacher, and just not a typical housewife in Ruth’s words, and her father was a veteran of the Great War, and an air raid warden in the Second World War.  She also shares the achievements of her brothers, as well as her own journey to Toronto in the 1950s, when she met her future husband, Holocaust Survivor Mark lane, whose story can also be found in the Crestwood Oral History Project.

Ruth was interviewed in her home by Scott Masters in July 2015.

Lee Yong Su

Lee Yong Su is a halmeoni, or “grandmother”, a name Koreans use for the women who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese during the Second World War.  The Japanese military developed the term “comfort women” to describe these women who were coerced into this terrible existence.  Ms. Lee was kidnapped at the age of 13, along with so many other Korean women and girls, and she was taken a battlefield “comfort station”, where she was brutalized and raped repeatedly by Japanese soldiers.  The older girls and women tried to protect her, but they were unable to save her from this fate.  She remembered the torture she experienced when she at first tried to hold off the soldiers, and she recalled the one soldier who took pity on her, and managed to save her life.  With the war’s end, many of these women were simply abandoned by the Japanese, and they often had to walk hundreds of miles to their homes and families, dealing with the physical and emotional trauma of their wartime slavery.  Ms. Lee spoke to participants on the Alpha Education Peace and Reconciliation Tour in July 2017, with the hope that her story carries a message of social justice to future generations.  Translation was facilitated by Ms. Kim Hyoun Sook of Korealinx.

In July 2017 Crestwood teacher Scott Masters took part in Alpha Education’s Peace and Reconciliation Tour.  Seventeen educators, activists, lawyers, and documentarians toured China and Korea, learning about the Asian perspective on the Second World War, and exploring ways to raise awareness of this side of the war to a non-Asian audience.  The tour was organized by Don Tow, as part of his ongoing efforts to stimulate social justice education and to improve Asian-American understanding and relationships.

Please note that this interview is in Korean, with the English translation at the end of each segment.

Lewis, Chris

Chris Lewis is a member of the Taoist Tai Chi Society of Canada.  He visited Mr. Masters’ World Religions class in October 2014, sharing his insights on Taoism and taking the students through a few Tai Chi movements.

Lipson, Rabbi Leslie

Rabbi Leslie Lipson grew up in Rochester, New York; he connected to Canada by attending Camp Ramah for ten summers as both a camper and on staff.  After graduating from Haverford College,  Rabbi Lipson traded currency on Wall Street and then returned to Toronto to work on his MBA at York University.  After working in the foreign exchange industry for several more years, Rabbi Lipson decided to study at the Jewish Theological Seminary. While studying for rabbinic ordination, he also received a Masters in Education. He spent ten years in the pulpit world: two as an assistant in Monmouth County, New Jersey and eight years as the senior Rabbi at a shul in western Morris County New Jersey.  Rabbi Lipson is married with four children.  His leisure pursuits include studying Torah, listening to Jazz and the Grateful Dead, and avidly following his favourite baseball team: the New York Yankees.

Rabbi Lipson visited Crestwood’s World Religions class in February 2015, and the class interviewed as part of this project.

Lv Faxue

Lv Faxue grew up in postwar China.  He shared his memories of the 1950s and 1960s with Crestwood student Victoria Xu in March 2014; they are here overdubbed in English by Victoria.  Mr. Xu’s memories include growing up against the backdrop of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, as well as the changes that took place in China in the post-Mao era.

Marcharia, Bodia

Bodia Marcharia is the current president of Friends of the Congo, an NGO dedicated to improving the quality of life for the Congolese people. Bodia is a passionate speaker, and she addressed many of the region’s concerns, among them conflict minerals and the conditions facing Congolese women. Bodia visted Crestwood in January 2012, where she spoke to a group of YARRD students about conditions in the Congo, and she followed this up with a small group interview with Jenny Son, Lindsey Swartzman, and So Hee Pyo.

McCarney, Rosemary

Rosemary McCarney is President and CEO of Plan International Canada Inc. (Plan Canada), an international and humanitarian development organization.  Founded as Foster Parents Plan, this NGO now works in more than 45 developing countries helping children and their families achieve lasting improvements in their lives.  That includes the notable “Because I am a Girl” campaign.  Rosemary has an extensive resume in law, business and humanitarian work.   She has been in many nations, where she has worked hard to improve conditions for those in need.

We were very fortunate to host her here at Crestwood on November 25, 2014, when she was the keynote speaker at our 2nd Human Rights and Tolerance Symposium.  She agreed to be interviewed for this project as well, and we thank her for her interest and involvement.

Mohammed, Tahir

On April 28, 2017, Crestwood World History and Religion students took a day to take in the multireligious and multicultural character of Toronto.  Students visited a Sikh gurdwara, a Hindu temple, and in the afternoon we visited the Noor Cultural Centre and Mosque, to take part in Friday prayers.  It was a day for students to put their learning into practice and to connect to the larger community.

At Noor we were able to meet Tahir Mohammed, who had agreed to do an oral history interview with Crestwood students.
Tahir was born in Trinidad, descended from indentured workers who had come there from India in the 19th century.  Tahir explained what this meant in the context of the abolition of slavery, and students were able to learn about the multireligious nature of present day Trinidad.  Tahir was not particularly religious in his youth, and upon arrival in Canada religion still did not play a central role in his life; his greater interest was in establishing his place in his new country.  He also remembered a fondness for rock’n’roll.  9/11 changed some of Tahir’s perceptions, and it served to reinvigorate his interest in his roots, including attendance at his local mosque.
 Tahir gave students a good overview of his life before emigrating to Canada, and he covered the realities and misconceptions surrounding Islam; he also encouraged students to develop an interfaith dialogue, and we are hopeful that this interview will aid students in that journey.

Muinuddin, Talat

On April 28, 2017, Crestwood World History and Religion students took a day to take in the multireligious and multicultural character of Toronto.  Students visited a Sikh gurdwara, a Hindu temple, and in the afternoon we visited the Noor Cultural Centre and Mosque, to take part in Friday prayers.  It was a day for students to put their learning into practice and to connect to the larger community.

At Noor we were able to meet Talat Muinuddin, who had agreed to do an oral history interview with Crestwood students.
Talat was born in India, and grew up in the Hyderabad area.  When partition came in 1947, her family witnessed the chaos, and they were eventually uprooted themselves, making their way to Pakistan.  From there Talat spent time in England before emigrating to Canada in the 1960s.  She told students about her personal experiences along the way, and about the realities and misconceptions surrounding Islam; she also encouraged students to develop an interfaith dialogue, and we are hopeful that this interview will aid students in that journey.

Nemat, Marina

Marina Nemat was born in 1965 in Tehran, Iran. At the age of 16, she was arrested on false charges and spent more than two years in the infamous Evin prison, in Tehran, where she, along with many of her friends, was tortured. She was condemned to die, but survived because one of the Revolutionary guards, Ali, pleaded for her life. But the price Ali exacted was high: Nemat was forced to marry him. Ironically, it was Ali’s family who eventually secured Marina’s release after Ali was assassinated. Marina rejoined her family but was further traumatized by their reluctance to acknowledge her ordeal.

Marina came to Canada in 1991 and has called it her home ever since. It took 20 years for Marina to tell anyone about her ordeal and now she travels the world, telling her story and tirelessly working to end the cycle of violence worldwide.

Marina visited us at Crestwood in January 2012, where she did a mini-assembly for YARRD students, as well as a small group interview with So Hee Pyo, Jenny Son, Jesse Freedman, and Lindsey Swartzman.

Ohori, Joe

Joe Ohori was born in 1931 in Vancouver, British Columbia. When he was nine, his parents sent him to Japan with his sister but later his sister left and he was alone. He was adopted by a family in Hiroshima. The day the bomb dropped Joe started the day off by waking up early to go get a train to his school. Chance let him survive that day, though he did witness the post-atomic devastation. He was later able to go back to Canada with his Canadian passport and moved back with his family. He was only 14 when the bomb was dropped and when he moved back to Canada. He has visited Hiroshima with a group of students and recently started talking about his stories on Hiroshima. Joe now has children and many grandchildren and is living a very happy life now here in Canada. He has joined an anti-nuclear group and is actively campaigning to make the world a safer place. Joe spoke to Mr. Masters’ Grade 12 class in May 2011.  In May 2016, Joe visited us again, speaking to members of the Grade 12 History class.

Patil, Raj

Dr. Raj Patil is a representative of the Jainist Society of Canada.  He spoke to the World Religions class in October 2014, sharing his insights about this ancient faith.  The students in the class completed this oral history project as a group, and they and Mr. Masters thank Dr. Patil for his generosity.

Perhar, Ranbir

Mr. Ran Perhar is a valued member of the Crestwood community. In the spring of 2013 he welcomed Crestwood students to his gurdwara, and in the winter of that year Mr. Hawkins’ World Religions Class had the opportunity to return the welcome.

Mr. Perhar was able to offer students a glimpse into how Sikh beliefs influence his daily life and actions. He also discussed the history of Sikhism in Canada, and how the Sikh community has come to be a prosperous and significant contributor to the Canadian cultural mosaic.

Pham Cong Lien

Pham Cong Lien lives outside Hanoi, Vietnam, in a state-sponsored home for the veterans of what the Vietnamese call the “American War”.  Mr. Pham turned eighteen and was conscripted by the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) in 1967-68, just as the American involvement was reaching its apex.  Forced to leave school and his family behind, he went through brief military training before he followed the Ho Chi Minh Trial to the southernmost point of Vietnam.  After a brief period of combat, Mr. Pham was grievously wounded, the victim of a paralyzing back injury.  He was transported back to the north, where his medical treatment began.  With the North’s victory and the unification of Vietnam in 1974-75, Mr. Pham was moved to the veterans’ home, where he has resided ever since.  The state has and facility have since looked after him and his family, and have found ways for him to make his contribution to the national cause.

In July 2017 Crestwood teacher Scott Masters took part in Alpha Education’s Peace and Reconciliation Tour.  Seventeen educators, activists, lawyers, and documentarians toured China and Korea, learning about the Asian perspective on the Second World War, and exploring ways to raise awareness of this side of the war to a non-Asian audience.  The tour was organized by Don Tow, as part of his ongoing efforts to stimulate social justice education and to improve Asian-American understanding and relationships.  While overseas, Mr. Masters also visited Vietnam, where he was able to speak to Vietnamese people about the meaning of war in their recent national history.  Mr. Masters was able to visit and interview Pham Cong Lien with the help of Footstep Travel, and the translation efforts of Le Nguyen Giap.    

Please note that this interview is in Vietnamese, with the English translation at the end of each segment.

Pietrzyk, Jenny

Jenny Pietrzyk was born in 1920s Poland, and she was a teenager by the time the war came.  Finding herself in eastern Poland, Jenny and her family were in the Soviet zone, based on the Molotov-von Ribbentrop Pact.   While the early years brought deprivation, the real onslaught for Jenny and her family came in 1941, after the German commenced Operation Barbarossa.  Like many Poles, Jenny’s family became victims of the Nazi territorial readjustment.  While Jews and others were massacred in her village, Jenny’s mother stepped forward to help, and Jenny recalls the haunted survivors who would come to her farm at night.  Most local Jews hiding in the forests were turned in by collaborators, principally Ukrainians.  Jenny’s mother and sister too fell victim, as the Nazis manipulated collaborators in various eastern European nations.  Jenny managed to escape the horror of that night, though she was later detained and sent to germany as a slave labourer, where she spent the balance of the war.  Jenny’s story reminds us of the complex ethnic realities in wartime Europe.

Jenny came to us courtesy of a Crestwood parent, and she was interviewed by Mr. masters in March 2017.

Ratansi, Yasmin

Yasmin Ratansi is the Member of Parliament for Don Valley East.  A native of Tanzania, in March 2017 she visited with Crestwood students bound for Tanzania, telling them about her time there.  The students learned about the ins-and-outs of Tanzanian culture and other economic and environmental realities.  After her talk with the Me-to-We students, she sat down with a group of students for an oral history interview, talking about her life in and out of politics.

Rotondo, Dominic

Domenic Rontondo was born in Italy, in the early months of World War Two. When his father went off to war, his mother saved Domenic’s life during aerial bombing that devastated their village and killed most of the family. Domenic was raised by his grandparents and learned about his early life through them and other relatives. Domenic was able to provide Crestwood student Tiffany Tanz with some valuable insights into a child’s perception of the war.

Rutagonya, Emery

Emery Rutagonya was born in Rwanda and studied Sociology at the National University of Rwanda and Peacebuilding at the University of Toronto.  He is the co-Founder of Rwanda Survivors Foundation, a charitable organization that fosters memory preservation and the healing process in Rwanda through education.

Emery lost most of his family during the 1994 Genocide Against Tutsi in Rwanda.  As a young man of 18, his life transformed dramatically during the Genocide when he hid alone in a tiny hiding place in the attic under a tin roof for seven weeks.  On June 5, 1994, due to intensified manhunt in the neighbourhood, Emery left the attic and fled to Saint Paul Church where hundreds of other fleeing Tutsis  had sought asylum.  He was steps away from Hotel Des Milles Collines, which inspired the Hollywood movie Hotel Rwanda.  Emery survived in the early morning of June 17, 1994 through the raid rescue  mission carried out by the RPF rebels.

In 2007 Emery began working for Aegis Trust at Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre.  While at Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre, Emery designed a Peace education program that helps Rwandan youth and educators to face the history of Genocide in Rwanda and to think together about Reconciliation in Rwanda.  He also contributed to the development of Genocide Archive Rwanda, which is an online collection of video testimonies, documents and other materials related to the Genocide in Rwanda.  Both of these projects were the first of their kind in Rwanda.

Emery is committed to sharing his miraculous story of survival to inspire and raise awareness.  He has been an honourary guest in the United States, Nigeria and Canada, and has inspired over 4000 students.

Emery emigrated to Canada in 2012 where he lives with his wife in Toronto.  We were pleased to welcome him to Crestwood in January 2014, when he spoke to the Civics classes.  After addressing a student assembly, Emery took the time to do this interview with Sabrina Wasserman, Josh Weisbrod, Sifana Jalal, and Teddy Wohl.

Sallie, Rabia

Rabia Sallie is the sister of Zatoon Vania, who also appears on this page. Rabia too is fom South Africa, where she grew up under the shadow of Apartheid. Like here sister Zatoon, Rabia also braved the consequences and challenged the intolerance of that system. We met her at the Noor Cultural Centre in Toronto, where she spoke to a delegation of Crestwood students in April 2011.

Santos, Rowena

Rowena Santos is actively involved in Ontario and local politics. She is a member of the provincial NDP, where she serves as Vice President, and she is affiliated with the organization Equal Voice, which seeks to promote women’s involved in Canadian politics, and she has twice spoken to Politics and Female Mentor Group students at Crestwood. She has also hosted us at Queen’s Park, where she led Crestwood students on a tour in the winter of 2009. Rowena is an active and energetic community member, and we are very fortunate that she has agreed to include Crestwood in her active schedule.

Shukyn, Murray

We met Murray Shukyn at the Baycrest Terraces in January 2015, as part of the new Crestwood-Baycrest initiative to document Jewish history in postwar Toronto.  And Murray made interesting contributions in that regard.  Murray grew up in the shadow of World War Two, and he reached maturity in the context of the 50s and 60s, a time when Toronto was reshaping its identity.  Out of school Murray dove into his passion of music, opening a record store.  Later he went into teaching, opening the highly influential SEED school in the early 70s.  Stints in television and politics would follow.  Murray is a great storyteller with very interesting experiences from a fascinating time!

He was interviewed for this project by Lara Franklin, Shanel Maida and Rohan Narayanan.

Sim Jin Tae

Hundreds of thousands of Korean civilians, along with thousands of others in the occupied territories, were conscripted for this purpose, a topic that is only on the periphery of Western historiography and education.

During their visit to Seoul, members of the Peace Tour were able to meet with the progeny of one of these onetime forcedlabourers, Sim Jintae.  Mr. Sim was in Japan and experienced the effects of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in August 1945.

Translation for this interview was done by Ahn Minseob, a former student of Mr. Masters, and Pastor Lee Daesoo, of the Asia Citizens’ Network for Peace. 

Please note that this interview is in Korean, with the English translation at the end of each segment.