The international MRH program was founded in 2001 by Dr. David Machlis of the United States and Eli Rubenstein of Canada, both of whom have worked extensively with the March of the Living program. Carla Wittes was the first staff person with the program and has remained an essential part of MRH since its inception. Connected by the belief that the Holocaust was not simply a “Jewish issue” but rather a grave part of history that was of importance to all of humanity, they worked together to create a program that would provide an opportunity for students of all ethnic and faith backgrounds to learn about the significance of the Holocaust.
Since its inception, more than 500 Canadian students of many diverse religions, backgrounds and ethnicities have taken part in the March of Remembrance and Hope program, including but not limited to members of the Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Seventh Day Adventist, Baha'i, and Zoroastrian faith communities.
Additionally, MRH has been privileged to learn from participating members of the leadership delegation who bring their own lived experience of persecution to bear on the education experience. To date survivors of the Rwandan Genocide, Vietnamese Boat People, members of various First Nation communities, and African Canadians, have gifted the MRH community with their powerful personal experiences throughout the course of the trip.
MRH has a rich community of alumni who remain actively involved in their communities, working to spread the message of respect and empathy. Inspired by their MRH experience, alumni often emerge with a strengthen commitment to community volunteerism, campus inclusion initiatives, and a variety of projects that examine the importance of learning from people of difference and working with vulnerable populations. Two student organizations in Canada dedicated to teaching tolerance and combating genocide, Shout Canada and Stand Canada, were founded by students who participated in Marches to Poland. Many of the student leaders and active members of these two organizations are alumni of the March of Remembrance and Hope program.
On January 27, 2007, International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Ms. Marie Mirlande Noel, an African American student at the College of St. Elizabeth, and a graduate of the MRH program, addressed the United Nations about her experience on the March of Remembrance and Hope program.
As mentioned on our Who We Are page, MRH is sponsored on an annual basis in Canada by Jewish Federations of Canada - UIA after being run for several years by the Canadian Centre for Diversity. Though the international iteration of MRH is currently on hold, American groups such as Nazareth College and Hobart and William Smith Colleges have travelled with past Canadian MRH delegations and have subsequently launched their own program entitled, The March: Bearing Witness to Hope.
Learn more about the program and how you can become an important part of the story.