Meet the Jewish artist painting Holocaust and residential school survivors

Lina Kichnevskaia, a Holocaust survivor in Edmonton, posed for Saskatchewan artist Carol Wylie, who painted 18 survivors of residential schools and the Holocaust. (Submitted photo)

Robbie Waisman is a well-known speaker on Holocaust education. When he was 11, he was forced to worked in a munitions factory in Poland; by 14 he was sent to Buchenwald, where he was grouped in the same cohort of teenagers as Elie Wiesel. His parents and four brothers were killed in the Holocaust.

Eugene Arcand, meanwhile, is now an official with Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and also speaks widely about his experiences as a forced Indian residential school student in Saskatchewan for 11 years.

For a few years now, Waisman and Arcand have been joining forces to speak together at schools and various events. They both took part in a new art show that exhibits 18 portraits of survivors: nine from the Holocaust, nine from Indian residential schools. The artist who painted them, Carol Wylie, is Jewish herself—she got the idea after hearing a survivor in Toronto, Nate Leipciger, speak five years ago at her synagogue in Saskatoon.

Now she hopes people who see her show will be moved to learn more about both genocides, while also inspiring Jewish people to help residential school survivors heal. To commemorate National Indigenous Peoples Day, Wylie joins Ellin Bessner on The CJN Daily to discuss her project and the stories she heard.

What we talked about:

The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Victoria Redden is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine. Our title sponsor is Metropia. Find more great Jewish podcasts at thecjn.ca.

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