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Survivors Today project fonds

Fonds / Archival Collection
IdentifierRA055
Title NoteTitle based on temporary title of creator’s project.
Extent & Medium7 audio cassette tapes
10 folders of textual records and 1 oversize display panel with text
ca. 651 photographs : b&w negatives, photographic contact sheets, and prints
Date[1977]–1987
Administrative/Biographical HistoryCelia Brauer is a freelance artist and writer who documented Holocaust and Hiroshima survivors’ lives after the Second World War in British Columbia, Canada, in the mid-1980s.

Born in Montreal, Quebec, in 1952, Brauer was the daughter of two Polish-born Holocaust survivors, Lily (Lola) and Max (Mendel) Brauer, who immigrated to Canada in 1948.

Shortly after graduating with a BFA in visual arts from Concordia University in 1976, Brauer moved to Vancouver, BC, where she saw an announcement in the paper about a symposium on the Holocaust that piqued her interest. Brauer was indirectly but closely affected by the Holocaust and knew the traumatic after-effects such experiences can bring; growing up, her parents were reticent to speak of their own experiences and trauma during the war. After attending the symposium, where she listened to Holocaust survivors publicly speak of their personal accounts to high school students, she became inspired to learn more about survival and human nature. She was specifically interested in the spiritual qualities that helped individuals rebuild their lives after experiencing such profound tragedy.

Brauer set out on a project to write a manuscript tentatively titled Survivors Today: Present Day Observations of Post-War Jewish Immigrants in Canada. She interviewed Holocaust survivors about their experiences and attitudes after the war and their immigration to Canada. Brauer photographed survivors in their homes and at the Canadian Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and their Children in Ottawa, held April 28–30, 1985. Brauer wanted to explore connections between the Holocaust and Hiroshima and proposed another book tentatively titled A Question of Spirit: Surviving and Rebuilding. Neither manuscript was completed.

Following this project Brauer’s interests turned the natural world and her concern for the environment. In 2005, she founded the non-profit False Creek Watershed Society. This organization seeks to advance public knowledge and education about Vancouver’s False Creek watershed, increase understanding of environmental problems, and encourage living more sustainably within the watershed. Her approach to this work is informed by her relationships with local First Nations and her learning of traditional Indigenous ecological knowledge.

Brauer studied socio-cultural anthropology at the University of British Columbia, where her research focused on present-day perceptions of an Indigenous worldview, traditional ecological knowledge, place-based education, sustainability, and sustainability education. She completed a thesis titled Paths to Sustainability: Creating Connections through Place-based Indigenous Knowledge, and graduated in 2017.

Brauer lives in Vancouver, Canada, where she writes, creates art, and participates in the False Creek Watershed Society. Brauer is an active member of the Second Generation Group.
Scope & ContentFonds consists of multimedia materials created by Brauer as a result of her Survivors Today project, which documented the lives of Holocaust and Hiroshima survivors after the war and documented attendees at the Canadian Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and their Children held in Ottawa from April 28–30, 1985. Materials in fonds include audio cassette tape recordings of one-on-one interviews with survivors and one tape of four survivors speaking at an Annual Symposium on the Holocaust. Assorted textual materials include manuscripts, correspondence, biographies, transcripts of interviews, book proposals, publications, financial records and a matted display panel. Lastly, photographic materials in the fonds consist of negatives, contact sheets and prints produced by Brauer.

The Survivors Today project aimed to honour survivors’ recollections of sorrow while also expressing their hopes and triumphs in their new lives. Interviews focus on how survivors came to Canada, their adjustments and contributions to life in Canada, and their perceptions of Canadian society. Other topics covered include Judaism and faith, Israel, Europe, nuclear weapons and global peace.
Archival HistoryAccessions 1998.005, 1994.003. Items in fonds were catalogued in Filemaker Pro by VHEC staff in the 1990s. Fonds, series and file-level descriptions were created in 2021.
Immediate Source of Acquisition or TransferDonated to the VHEC by Celia Brauer in 1994 and 1998.
AccrualsNo further accruals are expected.
LanguageEnglish, Yiddish
System of ArrangementFonds was arranged by the archivist into three series based on material type.
RightsMaterials in fonds covered by a deed of gift contract constituting the agreement between Celia Brauer and the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre, granting the VHEC the use of items for the purpose of preservation, display, publication, research and publicity. No known privacy restrictions pertain to these materials; all materials in fonds remain under copyright by Celia Brauer.
Rules or ConventionsISAD(G) informed by Canadian Rules for Archival Description.
Archivist's NoteFinding aid created in 2021 by Amanda Alster.
Date of Description2021

Collection Contents

Fonds consists of multimedia materials created by Brauer as a result of her Survivors Today project, which documented the lives of Holocaust and Hiroshima survivors after the war and documented attendees at the Canadian Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and their Children held in Ottawa from April 28–30, 1985. Materials in fonds include audio cassette tape recordings of one-on-one interviews with survivors and one tape of four survivors speaking at an Annual Symposium on the Holocaust. Assorted textual materials include manuscripts, correspondence, biographies, transcripts of interviews, book proposals, publications, financial records and a matted display panel. Lastly, photographic materials in the fonds consist of negatives, contact sheets and prints produced by Brauer.

The Survivors Today project aimed to honour survivors’ recollections of sorrow while also expressing their hopes and triumphs in their new lives. Interviews focus on how survivors came to Canada, their adjustments and contributions to life in Canada, and their perceptions of Canadian society. Other topics covered include Judaism and faith, Israel, Europe, nuclear weapons and global peace.