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Gina Roitman


Gina is a creative writer, biographer, and author of the collection, Tell Me a Story, Tell Me the Truth and the biography, Midway to China and Beyond. In addition she has written two private chronicles for child survivors of the Holocaust.

Her stories, essays, and poetry have appeared in several anthologies as well as in carte-blanche, Quills Poetry magazine, JewishFiction, and the Globe and Mail.

With Jane Hawtin, she co-produced and co-wrote the award-winning documentary film, My Mother, the Nazi Midwife, and Me which follows Gina on her return to her birthplace in Germany to uncover the truth of how her mother saved her life. Ash in My Hair, a radio documentary on the same subject aired on a variety of CBC programs since it first ran in 2005. Her radio essay, An Imperfect Child, based on a short story, aired on CBC's First Person Singular.

Gina is a member of the Quebec Writers' Federation and ELAN, the English-Language Arts Network.

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Tell Me a Story, Tell Me the Truth. Second Story Press, 2008
Midway to China and Beyond. First Choice Books, 2016
Wherever I Find Myself (Anthology). Caitlin Press, 2017
The New Spice Box, Vol. I (Anthology) . New Jewish Press, 2017


MADA (Make A Difference Award) for COMMFEST Global Community Film Festival, 2013
Tateh and the Angel of Death for carte-blanche, 2004
Eligible for National Public Readings Program :


Presentation Description

This unit will (1) play a role in the sudents' construction of identity and the development of their world-view and (2) encourage them to be open-minded and project themselves into the future as responsible citizens.

General Objective / Purpose

The following unit, based on the film My Mother, the Nazi Midwife and Me, contains activities that will encourage students to reflect on the following central questions:

(1) How do our individual and collective memories shape who we are today and influence our future?

(2) What is the relationship between our personal stories and our identity?

(3) How do our confrontations with injustice help shape our identity?

(4) What can we do individually and collectively to confront racism and prejudice? How can we as individuals and as citizens make a positive difference in our school, community, province and the world?

It is incumbent upon teachers undertaking this unit to refer to their curriculum guides and to target objectives appropriate for their students and grade level. Teachers are free to adapt the lessons and resources to suit the needs and abilities of their students.

Each activity begins with a lead-in for teachers (concepts, introductory remarks) followed by a step-by-step lesson plan. The extension activity, included at the end of some lessons, is optional. Teachers should refer to the appendix for complementary materials and additional resources.

Presentation Length:
2 hours
Personal Identity and Tolerance
Secondary Cycle 2, Cycle 1 (Grades 7+8); Senior High School
Audience size:
25 - 500
Workshop Description:

Following please find two of the six activity plans offered and supported by a lesson plan for teachers:

ACTIVITY 1 Identity: An Introduction

1. Lead-in:

The French philosopher René Descartes once said: “I think, therefore I am.” For Descartes, the fact that he engaged in thought was proof of existing in the world. This might be enough in the realm of philosophy but in our contemporary, material world where everyone is a number and official photo IDs are required nearly everywhere, is thinking really proof enough that we exist?

Who am I?” is a question nearly everyone asks at one time or another. What are some of the factors that shape the idea we have of ourselves? In answering this question, we define our identity.

2. Lesson: Mapping My Identity

a) Initiate a class discussion: How do you know who you are? What items belonging to you or your family prove that you exist in the world (i.e. birth certificate, SIN, credit card, etc.)? What contributes to your sense of self? (Consider personal objects, family heirlooms, documents, significant people.). Make a list on the board.

b) Invite students to create a package of five items that encapsulate everything about who they are. It may be a collage, a shoebox filled with significant items, etc. Encourage students to be as high-tech or low-tech in their presentation as they wish. Teachers may wish to model the process by creating their own box (or collage, etc.) and sharing it with the class, explaining how each item helped to shape their identity.


a) Schedule class presentations: Describe the objects/pictures/documents in your identity box in detail, identifying why each object is an important/necessary component in your concept of identity.

b) Initiate a class discussion: What insights arose as a result of thinking about your identity and the objects you chose to help define it?

c) Play “What if”: What if you lost all of your important items in a fire or other calamity? How would you feel? How might it affect your concept of identity?

ACTIVITY 2 Our Personal Stories

"The universe is made of stories not atoms.” – Muriel Rukeyser

“The one who does not remember history is bound to live through it again.” – George Santayana

1. Lead-in:

Every child comes into this world in a sack and upon arriving, is unwittingly handed something to fill it - the history of those who have come before. Families invariably come replete with both good and bad life experiences, prejudices, traumas, unfulfilled dreams as well as optimism, determination and triumph. Each of us has experienced this phenomena but our instinct, especially when we are young is to turn our eyes to the future, leaving the past for some distant ‘later.’  Understanding our personal history gives context to our lives, and when young, can provide a boost in self-confidence either because, when we are young, we think we can do better or we find an example to emulate. – Gina Roitman

2. Lesson:

As we saw in Activity 1, our identity is a combination of many factors. It includes the labels others place on us as well as words and phrases we use to describe ourselves. Gender, ethnicity, religion, occupation, and physical characteristics are all part of one’s identity. Our connection to a particular neighbourhood, school, or nation, our values and beliefs, and the personal experiences that we have had also figure into the idea we have of ourselves. These personal experiences form the basis for the narratives (or stories) that shape who we are today.

There are many reasons why it is important to tell our stories: (1) to know and understand where we come from; (2) to celebrate our uniqueness and our being part of a continuum; (3) to avoid repeating past mistakes; (4) to never forget; (5) to educate others in order to make the world a better place. Telling our stories makes us an active participant in our family history.

3. Task: Help Write Your Family History

Interview a parent or older ancestor about one childhood memory that impacted on his or her life. Before you begin, make a list of questions to ask. Showcase that story in the medium of your choice (print, visual or digital text; or present it orally to the class).

Northern OAC WITS:
One session:
Two sessions:
Three sessions:
Four sessions:
One session:
$$ 500
Two sessions:
$$ 900
Three sessions:
$$ 1200
Four sessions:
$$ 1500
GST not applicable