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Righting Canada's Wrongs Collection

Righting Canada's Wrongs: Anti-Semitism and the MS St. Louis
Canada's Anti-Semitic Policies in the Twentieth Century
By (author): Rona Arato
Rona Arato


Lorimer - Toronto



Product Form:


Form detail:

Paper over boards
Hardcover , Paper over boards


Young Adult : Age (years) 13 - 18, Reading age 9
Jan 19, 2021
$34.95 CAD


280 x 229 x 13 mm | 760 gr

Page Count:

88 pages


300 colour and b&w photos
James Lorimer & Company Ltd., Publishers
YOUNG ADULT NONFICTION / Social Topics / Prejudice & Racism
  • Short Description

In 1939, a ship of Jewish refugees, including hundreds of children, was turned away by the Canadian government, fuelled by anti-Semitic sentiments. In 2018, Canada apologized.

In 1939, Canada refused to accept a ship of Jewish refugees and sent them back to Europe where many later died.

Prior to the Second World War, Canada's Jewish community was well established in many cities, including Toronto, Montreal and Winnipeg. As war grew closer, anti-Semitism across Europe was increasing. Hitler's Nazis were spreading hatred and violence towards Jews across Germany. At first, Jews were allowed to leave Germany and thousands escaped to save themselves and their families. Then countries around the world closed their doors to Jewish refugees. In 1939, the MS St. Louis sailed for Cuba with nearly a thousand Jewish men, women, and children looking for safety. They were turned away by Cuba, then the US. The ship sailed on to Canada.

Despite pleas from the Canadian Jewish community, the government refused to allow the passengers to land in Canada. After war broke out, Canada continued to refuse Jewish refugees entry. When Britain forced Canada to take some refugees in, Canada imprisoned them in internment camps — alongside Nazis. Some of these Jewish refugees were only teenagers.

Three years after the war ended and after the horrors of the Holocaust were universally known, Canada finally changed immigration policies and begin to accept Jews equally with other immigrants.

Canada's long history of anti-Semitic immigration policies was deemed shameful. In November 2018, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made an official apology to the Jewish community for Canada's refusal to accept the passengers of the MS St. Louis, as well as for its historical anti-Semitic policies.

RONA ARATO is a former teacher and an award-winning author who writes about human rights and the Holocaust. From 1994-1998, she interviewed Holocaust survivors for Steven Spielberg's Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation. Her book, The Last Train, won numerous awards, including the Norma Fleck Award for best Canadian children's non-fiction book of 2014. Her book, The Ship to Nowhere, about the refugee ship Exodus 1947, was designated a Sydney Taylor Notable Book for Older Children by the Association of Jewish Libraries. Rona is a frequent speaker at schools and community organizations. She lives in Toronto, Ontario.

"A wonderful series [Righting Canada's Wrongs] of beautiful books."

- Times Colonist

"This story and the others in the “Righting Canada’s Wrongs” series should be essential teaching in Canadian classrooms at all grades."

- CM: Canadian Review of Materials

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