Windsor schools halt Holocaust Center visits
President Donald Trump’s Jan. 27 executive order banning citizens from predominantly Muslim countries has prompted Windsor, Ontario’s school board to suspend field trips across the Canada-United States border.
“Paramount for us is student safety … we really don’t know what will happen to our students at the border,” Greater Essex County District School Board superintendent Clara Howitt told the Windsor Star.
Among the suspended field trips were two this month to the Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hills.
The Star reported the school board had contacted U.S. border authorities following the executive order and was told students with citizenships from the seven Muslim-majority countries would not be allowed entry into the U.S.
Even though recent court rulings have put a stay on the executive order, Howitt said individual border agents have discretion in deciding who gets in the country. The board decided not to take risks that could subject its multicultural students to possible unpleasant situations.
The Star reported that Ottawa, the provincial capital, has been monitoring the situation and recording instances where Canadians — particularly dual citizens — have been turned around at the border.
Greater Essex County District School Board spokesman Scott Scantlebury said it is hoped the field trip to the Holocaust Center, which currently has a special exhibition on Anne Frank running through June, can be resumed.
HMC CEO Rabbi Eli Mayerfeld said, “We very much value our relationships with Windsor students and look forward to welcoming them to the Holocaust Memorial Center and to Michigan.
“The mission of the Holocaust Memorial Center is to set forth the lessons of the Holocaust as a model for teaching ethical conduct and responsible decision-making,” he said. “As such, we believe that all students in grades eight through 12 should visit the museum to learn about the Holocaust and other genocides to prevent these atrocities from happening again. Through education, all people can take positive actions to combat hate and bigotry.”
Windsor West MP Brian Masse told the Windsor Star he finds it “ironic” that some of the suspended trips were for students to visit the HMC, an institution where he had a “life-changing moment.” Masse also said Trump was building a “virtual wall” between the two countries that have such close personal and business ties.
“If ever there was a point in which the world needed to learn about racism and prejudice and the unspeakable truths that need to be spoken,” said Masse, it is now.