March 26, 2013, saw the public launch of the Sara Corning Centre for Genocide Education, a Toronto-based institute founded in September 2012.
The centre is named after Sara Corning, a Nova Scotian nurse best known for saving 5,000 Armenian orphans when Turkish troops set fire to the port city of Smyrna in 1922. In appreciation for her humanitarian work, Greece’s King George II awarded Corning one of his country’s highest civilian honours a year later.
Continuing in Corning’s tradition, the centre was established to conduct and promote research on human rights- and genocide-related issues for elementary and secondary school students and educators.
“We believe that education in these fields is effective in ensuring Canadian students become engaged in civic life, advocate for their own rights and those
of others, and remain aware of the consequences of discrimination,” explained Founder and Chair Raffi Sarkissian. “Education is the most effective means for fostering a society with a strong sense of social justice and respect for human rights. We have an obligation to ensure that our students learn to play their part in upholding human rights in Canada and abroad,” he continued.
Daniel Ohanian, Director of Research, said of the centre’s two-pronged approach, “Our research on issues surrounding equity and discrimination seeks to keep Canadians informed and aware of issues – both historical and current – that shape and affect our world. Our educational initiatives focus on developing teacher training and workshop opportunities, program development for schools, classroom visits, public lectures and presentations, and the development of teacher and student resources.”
The organization has already led a teacher training workshop, made several classroom visits, published a commemorative poster, and presented an exhibit titled 90 Years: The Arrival of the Georgetown Armenian Boys. The latter celebrated the 90th anniversary of the arrival of the first contingent of a group of 109 child survivors of the Armenian Genocide who were brought up in and around Georgetown, Ontario.