Black/Jewish Dialogue



Report submitted to

The City of Toronto

Access and Equity Centre

July, 2004

Project Summary

As a result of the generous grant from the City of Toronto, Access and Equity Centre in the last year, the Black/Jewish Dialogue of B'nai Brith Canada's League for Human Rights launched an exciting social action program aimed at bridging the growing ethno-cultural divide between young people today. The League, which has long been involved in anti-racism initiatives and human rights education, was proud to have as its primary partner, The Concerned Kids Charities of Toronto, an organization that specializes in communication through puppetry in the context of multiculturalism and diversity training.

Other community partners include The Somali Canadian Club, Settlement and Integration Services Organization (SISO-Hamilton), Toronto Residents in Partnership (TRIP), and Toronto Police Services. Members of these organizations will comprise an Advisory Board and provide on-going monitoring and formative evaluation.

This outreach program was specifically designed to provide schools and teachers with an exciting new teaching resource in the field of anti-racism and anti-discrimination. In its initial pilot phase, the project outreached to 12 schools in the Toronto area, bringing together an elementary school audience from many different religious and ethnic groups.

The forty-five minute interactive puppet show, which was followed up with a discussion and dialogue component, consisted of four puppeteers and a back-up team of understudies. The cast, comprised of teenage volunteers from both the Black Muslim and Jewish communities, reflecting the make-up of the Black-Jewish Dialogue, as well as additional trainee puppeteers from other ethnic groups. Each of the actors play the part of a character of another ethnicity than their own. The program was designed to show multiculturalism in action. It consists of five distinct educational vignettes.

Script Development and Training

The script development process for The Multicultural Youth Outreach Project involved localizing an existing program by an educational troupe called The Kids On The Block, designed to introduce children to the concept of culture and how it affects our lives and the collective society. Our local adaption incorporated three stages. The first stage consisted of thorough research into the inter-cultural discourse between youth of diverse religious and ethnic backgrounds. The next stage involved character and issue development within the field of multicultural education, reflecting our unique ethnic and racial mosaic. The final stage focused on follow-up activities (such as, class room discussion questions and role-playing exercises) for this program that may be used to continue the learning experience after The Concern Kids performance.

The puppeteers were provided with anti-racism training utilizing the "Taking Action Against Hate" Training Manual developed by the League for Human Rights of B'nai Brith Canada.

We conducted 12 performances for students aged 6 to 12, and 20 to 100 students per performance depending on class size.

(Support materials used in training)

2002 Hate Bias Crime Statistical Report, Detective Services - Intelligence Support, The Toronto Police Service

Audit of Antisemitic Incidents, Patterns Of Prejudice In Canada, League for Human Rights of B'nai Brith Canada

Taking Action Against Hate, A training Manual for Individuals Institutions and Community Groups, League for Human Rights of B'Nai Brith Canada

Community Support and Advisory Partners

Representatives and professionals from several organizations served in an consultative and advisory capacity as part of our on-going development project and on our multicultural advisory board regarding assistance with designating youth trainers, consultation on script writing and venues, and participant selection. These organization include:

The Settlement and Integration Services Organization (Hamilton/SISO) functioned in an advisory and consultative capacity in the area of designating youth trainers, and assisting with script writing. SISO serves a diverse ethno-cultural constituency, and is thus in a good position to advise on this project.

The Toronto Police Service (Community Policing Support Unit) provided advisory support to the Board of Directors of the Black/Jewish Dialogue. An officer (Stacey Wilson) has been assigned in a consultative capacity.

[And] The Somali Canadian Community Club served in an advisory and consultative capacity in the area of designating youth trainers and assisting with script writing, and laying the necessary groundwork for future outreach and partnerships with the wider Muslim community.

About the Multiculturalism Program

The Black/Jewish Dialogue and The Concerned Kids Program on Multiculturalism in Action is designed to introduce children to the concept of culture and how it affects individual lives and the collective society.

Culture is the filter through which we view the world. It provides us with a wide range of norms, values and believes. It can also connect us to others and give us a sense of uniqueness and power. Culture reveals itself in complex things such as religious beliefs, or simple things like leisure activities. Culture may provide models on which we base many of our beliefs, likes, dislikes, and interactions with others. Cultural awareness and sensitivity will serve present and future generations well as we become a more diverse and global society.

The Script

The first vignettes in the Multiculturalism Program focus on a variety of issues within multicultural education and are most appropriate for other elementary school children (grades 3-5) The vignette, New Names, focuses on the challenges children of immigrant parents can faced when they struggle to assimilate into the “majority” or “dominant” culture. In Where’s the Culture? Audiences learn that culture can come from many places and that it’s much more than just “where your family comes from.” Anything You Can Do... focuses on gender issues and how gender bias can limit opportunities. “I”Is Not for Indian deals with stereotypes through the eyes of Daniel a young man of Indian heritage. The final vignette, Holidays: More Than Presents is appropriate for younger audience (grades K-2) and makes learning about culture accessible through the concept of holiday celebrations.

The Multicultural Cast of Puppet Characters

NAM NGUYEN - [pronounced N-win Wee Nom] is an eleven-year-old boy whose family moved from Vietnam to the United States before he was born.

JOANNE SPINOZA - is a 14 year old and represents young people who may feel a lack of cultural identity. She is an only child of divorced parents. She can be quiite naive at times and tends to be misinformed about a variety of issues. However, through her openness and her attempts tro “do the right thing” Joanne represents the children in the audience from the dominant group who are searching for the right choice and are willing to learn as they grow.

VALERIE PERKINS - is a 14 year old who is a good student and very involved in cheerleading and other activities at school. She is a peer tutor at her school and helps students with math homework. Valerie is independent and very mature for her age. Valerie is of African Canadian heritage and is very close to her family. Because

Valerie was born with an opening in her spinal column, she has no feeling in her legs. Not long after her birth, Valerie underwent surgery to close the opening. She received physical therapy when she was a baby and now uses braces and crutches to help her walk. As Valerie often says, “Spina bifida is just one small part of who I am.”

DANIEL COLE - is a 14 year old who enjoys sharing his newfound and growing knowledge about his Native (Cherokee) heritage with his friends. However, he is quick to let people know that he is not an “expert about Indians.” Daniel encourages his friends to learn more the same way he has. “My great-grandma has taught me that no on can learn about ‘Indian people,’ because we’re all different. It’s probably best to find out more about the indigenous people who live around or near you. Learn about a particular tribe or nation by talking to the people who are part of that tribe. Real life interaction is much better than what you might learn from a book or a movie.”

Multicultural in Action Program Vignettes Synopsis

Vignette A: “New Names

Nam is upset that everyone mispronounces his name. He decides to change his name and is writing down ideas for a new name. When Valerie sees Nam, he is scribbling on a piece of paper. When Nam tells Valerie he is picking out a name, she makes a suggestion. The vignette explore why Nam wants to change his name. Nam wants a common name, so he can “fit in” and not feel “different” from his friends.

Vignette B: “Where’s the Culture?”

Joanne is helping some younger children with a school project for “Culture week”. Joanne wants to know what Nam’s group is doing for “Culture Week”. Believing that she has “no culture,” Joanne is unsure how to help her group. She asks some friends about their presentations. Nam begins by telling Joanne a bit of his folk tale, which is similar to Cinderella. Joanne thinks culture is only about where your family is from. Valerie tell Joanne, “Culture is all the special things that make you, YOU,” Joanne finds an example of her own culture in a special tradition she has in her own family.

Vignette C: “Anything You Can Do...

Valerie is upset when she does not get the position of sports reporter for the school paper. Armed with some deeply ingrained stereotypes, Joanne is less than sympathetic. Later, Joanne’s preconceived notions cause her to turn down assistance from a male friend. Together, Daniel and Jo discuss gender roles and how perceptions can affect opportunities.

Vignette D: “‘I’ Is Not For Indian

Nam is confused when the new little league assistant coach, Daniel, urges him not to name the team the “Woodburn Indians.” When Daniel explains that people may find the name offensive, Nam protests. Daniel shows Nam that one cannot assume to know everything about a person simply by looking at him or her.

Vignette E: “Holidays: More Than Presents

Joanne has made holiday greeting cards for the P.T.A. fundraiser. Believing that everyone celebrates the holidays which her cards represent, Joanne expects to be overwhelmed with orders. With the help of Valerie and Nam, Joanne learns that just like there are may different types of people, there are many different types of holidays as well.

Multicultural in Action Cast Members

In deference to the fact that the origin of the idea of doing this show came from a meeting of Blacks and Jews in Dialogue, and centered around the problems in the Middle East, the puppeteers for the pilot portion of the Multiculturalism show consisted of young people, age 18 - 24, Jewish and Muslim. One of the measures of success of the pilot was, how the experience was for each of them: did they learn anything about the members of the other ethnicity and could they see some common ground from which peaceful discussions and relationships could grow?

JOSH ALBERT started with The Concerned Kids in the fall of 2003 and has successfully mastered the role of Kenny in our Bereavement program. Having a father who has volunteered here in many capacities for over three years, helped to spur Josh in our direction when choosing a charity to work for.

Josh is a guitarist and song and poetry writer. He has worked with kids as a camp counselor over several summers so the art of puppetry performances to school children presented a natural choice for Josh.

The excitement and attention being given to our new program, Multiculturalism, as well as believing the powerful message it will spread, was too much for Josh to ignore and so he has now taken on the additional commitment of participating in this pilot project. The partnership of The Concerned Kids and The League for Human Rights is thrilled to have his expertise, enthusiasm and skill as part of this very special cast.


FARAH LIAKAT was just minding her own business - doing part-time studies and working as a childcare assistant at Growing Together in St. James Town, where she’d been for over five years, when confronted with the proposition of joining the Multiculturalism team was presented to her by a friend.

The friend’s enthusiasm as well as Farah’s own assessment of the program, convinced her that this was a great opportunity and she decided that she would commit to this worthwhile endeavor. She called on her honed skills working with children while learning the new art of puppetry. How lucky for The Concerned Kids and The League for Human Rights that friend gave such a convincing pitch to such a talented, busy young woman!

The reason I joined this show was I felt that the Multiculturalism show was a great way of teaching children about our unique cultural differences, while at the same time teaching them about the acceptance of all people. This show was a perfect way of helping out the city's communities in a positive way.” Farah


GILARY MASSA MACHADO served as a puppeteer with The Concerned Kids on an occasional basis for over two years, performing the Drug Awareness and Substance Abuse programs. Although she left to continue with her full-time studies at York University, she couldn’t say “no”, when asked to join the Multiculturalism team. Not only could she not say no, but she brought along her friend to round out our cast. Her work on the pilot project should blend well with her courses as an International Development major.

Gilary is one of the puppeteers who was so impressed when she saw a show by The Concerned Kids in her public school days, that she always wanted to volunteer when she was old enough. The Concerned Kids/League for Human Rights project is the lucky recipient of the experience, talent and energy that Gilary brings to the team!

Being a visible minority, and having experienced discrimination first hand, acceptance and understanding of different ethnic groups and religions, as well as having pride in who you are, are values that are very important to me. Concerned Kids has offered me an opportunity to educate our next generation of adults, while their still young, to accept everyone, despite their differences, in a fun and interactive way.” Gilary


ANNA SILBERMANN is brand new to puppeteering but a stage and an audience are certainly not foreign to this very talented improv actor! Anna is another of our cast who was brought along by a friend, and the Multiculturalism show will certainly benefit from her talent, zany enthusiasm and commitment to the message of the show.

Busy people are often the ones who find they can make time for one more good cause. Anna is an example of that. She is a student at York University and tries to get involved in as many school activities as possible. She loves music and is the life of any party she attends. The Concerned Kids/League for Human Rights welcomes her to liven up our party during this pilot period!

I think it's important for kids to learn about as many cultures as possible when they're young, so that they grow up to be educated and open-minded people. I thought that this would be a fun and new type of learning experience for children, myself included.” Anna


MIRIAM TURNER has a vast list of credits that made her a perfect candidate for th Multiculturalism in Action show. Having completed her BSW, Miriam is a social worker for Children’s Aid and, following her love and talent as a musician is also a music counselor for The Ontario Conservatory of Music.

Miriam has taught music to children in grades kindergarten through 10 for ten years! She also was a past coordinator/director of a puppet show for Epilepsy Brampton. Yes folks, she really does fall into our target age group! The Multiculturalism pilot is so fortunate to have the incredible talent and sheer energy that Miriam brings to every project she is involved with.

As described before I really believe this is a wonderful creative outlet for

social awareness and multiculturalism. Working with Individuals who are Jewish

as well as Muslim has been informative and positive. With everything going on

in the world, in MANY parts of the world, I think children and adults need to

see that no matter what the background, people can learn to work together.” Miriam

Multiculturalism in Action Pilot Performance Schedule

The program utilized the professional services of TDSB contacts (who are also members of the BJD) including Pauline Beder, York Region District School Board; Kirk Mark, Toronto Catholic District School Board, and Claude Norville, Principal McMurrich Public School TDSB, who along with experienced staff of The Concerned Kids, helped to facilitate access to a wide variety of public schools in the Greater Toronto Area from Rosedale to Mississauga to Scarborough.

The young Jewish and Muslim puppeteers took their show on the road March 30 at Portage Trail Public School enthusiastic youth audience from all primary school grades throughout the Greater Toronto Area.

The Multicultural Outreach Project completed the following events with amazing success, culminating in a well-received public forum for community service and faith organizations:

March 7, 2004 - “Bet Sefer Solel” - The pre-launch showcase of our new multiculturalism puppet show at St. Herbert Separate School, 5180 Fallingbrook Drive, Mississauga, Ontario L5V 2C6.

March 30, 2004 - “Portage Trail Public School” - The media launch of an exciting new multicultural puppet show was graciously held at Portage Trail, on 100 Sidney Belsey Crescent, and was widely covered by the Toronto Media (see select articles attached).

April 13, 2004 - “Dovercourt Public School” - 228 Barttlet Avenue, Toronto Ontario, M6H 3G4 - Dovercourt has a highly diverse student population, located in downtown Toronto. Other institutions in the area include, University of Toronto, Dewson Public School, Dovercourt Public School, St. Mary's Secondary (Separate) School, Bloor Collegiate Institute, Brockton Secondary and Ursula Franklin Academy.

April 20, 2004 - “Elmbank Junior Middle School” - Elmbank is located at

10 Pittsboro Drive, Toronto, Ontario, M9V 3R4. The Principal is Mr. Randy Atkins; and Vice-principals are Mrs. Barb Fraser Stiff, Mr. Terry Singh. The program was well attended and received by grades 3, 4 and 5.

April 27, 2004 - “Highcastle Public School” - Highcastle is located at 370 Military Trail, Scarborough, Ontario, M1E 4E6 in a highly diverse residential area in the Malvern region in the north-east end of the City of Toronto.

May 4, 2004 - “Emily Carr Public School” - Emily Carr is located at 90 John Tabor Trail in the heart of the diverse Ward 42 Scarborough-Rouge River Area. There are over 60 different cultures represented in the area, with the most dominant ethno-racial groups being people of African Canadian, British, Chinese, and East Indian Background.

May 11, 2004 - “Kingsview Village Public School” - is located at 1 York Road, Toronto, Ontario, M5R 3C8 . Kingsview is a large, inner-city school in a high density area. In 2003, the student population totaled 803. There are over 40 home languages represented; most of the students speak English as a second language; 85 percent use a language other than English at home. Over 50 percent of the children speak Somali. Almost all of the students are from immigrant and refugee families.

May 18, 2004 - “George Peck Public School” - located at 1 Wayne Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, M1R 1Y1. George Peck is an open school that serves students from Kindergarten to grade 8, and also contains an integrate pre-school and Day Nursery.

May 25, 2004 - “McMurrich Public School” - located tat 11 Winona Drive Toronto, Ontario, 3S8. Principal Claude Norville, allowed McMurrich Public School TDSB to serve as the as the sponsor and partner school for our multiculturalism in action project.

June 1, 2004 - “Guardian Angels Public School” - located at 62 Heatherdale Drive, Brampton, L7A 2H4. The school is located in the culturally diverse and rapidly developing Ward 1-6 (Brampton West)

June 8, 2004 - “Whitney Place Public School” - located at 119 Rosedale Heights Drive, Toronto, Ontario M45 1C4. In the heart of the Rosedale/Forest Hill Area, Whitney represented the least ethno-racially diverse school in the pilot project. With very few minorities the subject of multicultualism is not part of the student body’s everyday experience. Many of the teachers expressed the opinion that our program was useful in ways that may not be immediately apparent, because many of the students present would be leaving this year after grade six, and would be exposed to a wider world.

June 15, 2004 - “Buddhist Temple Mississauga” - located at 6525 Millcreek Road in Massasauga (401 and Erin Mills Parkway). The Black/Jewish Dialogue and The Concerned Kids in conjunction with MOSAIC group held the final performance of the acclaimed multicultural puppet show for community and political leaders and organizations showcasing the important message of tolerance and diversity the project has for school children everywhere.


The BJD Youth Sub-committee has used a variety of evaluative tools in the on-going leadership training and outreach process. For instance, we provide teachers with evaluation and response sheets in order to get the direct input regarding performance effectiveness and use as an educational tool.

We also distributed a kit of follow-up activities for this program used to continue the learning experience after the BJD/Concerned Kids performance. In “After The Puppets - Now What?” a variety of classroom discussion questions to reinforce the information presented during the performance. The kit also contained role play exercised and hands-on activities which focus on strengthening problem solving skills and encouraging attitudinal and behavioural changes. Leaving copies of these questions and activities with the classroom teachers, facilitated some activities directly following the performance and elicited feed back.

We have also shared information in order to received pertinent feedback from multicultural service agencies, through the distribution of our materials directly to community service groups, religious organizations, and youth service groups, including the Mayor's Committee on Youth, and the Toronto Residents In Partnership, the Ontario Black History Society, the Jamaican Canadian Association, the Ontario Multicultural History Society, The Archives of the Jewish Federation of Greater Toronto, Holy Blossom Temple Archives, the Midyanta Association of Somali Service Agencies, the African Resource Centre, the Sekeyreman Society of Ontario, the Rwandan Women's Association, the Southern Sudanese Community Organization of Greater Toronto, Operation Springboard (and the Youth Justice Act Conference), and the MOSAIC (umbrella organization of Mississauga).