UVIC History is pleased to announce the launch of Sacred Sites: Dishonour and Healing

This online exhibit, created by two history students in collaboration with the Jewish Museum and Archives of British Columbia, investigates the 2011 desecration of Victoria’s historic Jewish cemetery and the outstanding community response it engendered. A public celebration of the exhibit was hosted by the Congregation Emanu-El and Victoria’s Jewish Federation on January 17, 2016.

When Congregation Emanu-El members organized a vigil to stand against the anti-Semitic violence, they were surprised and reassured by over a thousand Victorians who attended the event. As students enrolled in University of Victoria’s Public History graduate seminar, Alissa Cartwright and Kaitlin Findlay partnered with the Jewish Museum and Archives of BC to create this online exhibit. Cartwright and Findlay were tasked with investigating the root of this response and framing it in relation to other community responses to cemetery desecration. They conducted oral history interviews with congregants and other individuals who attended the vigil, as well as museum professionals and historians about the role of academy in responding to such acts of racism and desecration. They also used the exhibit to situate the desecration and the vigil in broad theoretical and comparative contexts. The term project resulted in an engaging multi-media exhibit that interrogates the importance of the Jewish cemetery in Victoria, individual reactions to and action against acts of racism, and the importance of recognizing the sacred spaces of different communities.