National Holocaust Monument - Call for Nominations

Design Competition

Jury Member Biographies

An internationally renowned jury was assembled for the National Holocaust Monument design competition. The jury met in September 2013 to evaluate over seventy proposals.

Irving Abella

Irving Abella is the J. Richard Shiff Chair of Canadian Jewish History at York University. He is the author of six books including None Is Too Many: Canada and the Jews of Europe, 1933-1948, for which he received the National Jewish Book Award in the United States for the best book on the Holocaust (1984), and the Sir John A Macdonald Book Prize for the best history book published in Canada (1983). The book was selected by the Literary Review of Canada as one the 100 most important books published in Canada since 1900. Some of his other books include A Coat of Many Colours: Two Centuries of Jewish Life in Canada; Growing Up Jewish in Canada for which he received the Joseph Tannebaum Literary Award; Nationalism, Communism and Canadian Labour: Twentieth Century Canada; and On Strike. He has also published over 100 articles.

Abella was appointed to the Order of Canada in 1994 and to the Royal Society of Canada in 1993, and was awarded honorary doctorates of law by the Law Society of Upper Canada in 2001 and by Bishop’s University in 2008.

He was president of the Canadian Jewish Congress, 1992-1995; president of the Canadian Historical Association, 1999-2000; chair of Canadian Professors for Peace in the Middle East, 1986-1993; chair of the Governor General Literary Awards, 1990-1993. He was also chair of Vision TV; editor of Middle East Focus; founding editor, Labour/Le Travail: The Canadian Journal of Labour History; chair of the Holocaust Documentation Project, and chair of the Canadian Jewish Archives.

Ydessa Hendeles

Born in Marburg, Germany, the only child of Holocaust survivors, Ydessa Hendeles has lived in Toronto since her family moved there shortly after World War II. As commercial gallerist and then founder of the Ydessa Hendeles Art Foundation, Canada’s first privately funded contemporary-art exhibitor, she has mounted more than 100 exhibitions over the past three decades in North America, Europe and Asia. She developed her own distinctive concept of a “curatorial composition” in her practice, and adapted it to make artworks for her debut solo show, which opened at Berlin’s Galerie Johann König in June 2012.

Member of the Order of Canada and recipient of the Order of Ontario, Hendeles holds a PhD cum laude from the University of Amsterdam and is an adjunct professor with the University of Toronto Department of Fine Art. She was awarded a Governor General’s Award for “Outstanding Contribution in the Visual and Media Arts,” has received honorary doctorates from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and the University of Toronto, and an Award of Distinction from the Faculty of Fine Arts of Concordia University in Montreal. She was also named an Honorary Fellow of the Ontario College of Art and Design, now OCAD University.

She is a member of: the Tate International Council, London; the International Council of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York; the MoMA Committee on Photography; the Photography Acquisitions Committee of The Jewish Museum, New York; the Advisory Board of Sotheby’s Canada; the Board of Directors of the Toronto Art Therapy Institute; and has also served on the Advisory Board for the Art Gallery of York University. A Grand Founder of the Art Gallery of Ontario, she has served on its Acquisitions Committee for Contemporary Art, and was appointed by its College of Founders as a Trustee on the Board of Directors.

Herzl Kashetsky

Born in 1950, in Saint John New Brunswick, Herzl Kashetsky has been drawing and painting since childhood. The son of an antique dealer, he acquired an early appreciation of aesthetics and craftsmanship. His art encompasses all aspects of his life, creating a diversity of subject matter, expressed in the figurative tradition.

Kashetsky received a Bachelor of Fine Arts with distinction from Concordia University in 1972. In 1978, he spent three months of independent study in Rome and Florence, Italy. In 1986, CBC television produced a documentary about Kashetsky’s art. A trip to Eastern Europe in the 1990’s spawned an exhibition entitled A Prayer For The Dead, in memory of victims of the Holocaust. The show was officially opened in 1996 by war artist Alex Colville, who was also interviewed in a video documentary about the exhibit. Herzl Kashetsky, The Content That Forms Us, is a recent video produced in 2011, by The New Brunswick Visual Arts Education Association. Published in 2011, Glitter & Gloom; The Sketchbooks of Herzl Kashetsky, is a hardcover illustrated book documenting his drawings from 1965 to 2010.

Kashetsky’s work has been exhibited in group shows nationally and internationally, and is in private, corporate & public collections across Canada. He has also served as a juror on the NB Arts Board & been a member of The Beaverbrook Art Gallery’s Exhibition Committee. In recognition of his artistic achievement, he has received an Honorary Doctorate, the Red Cross Humanitarian Award, and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Award.

Raymond Moriyama

Raymond Moriyama is a hero to many Canadians. His stories of being interned during the Second World War because of his Japanese heritage and his rise to become one of Canada's most respected and accomplished architects continue to inspire.

Since founding Raymond Moriyama, Architect and Planner, in 1958, Raymond Moriyama has applied his humanistic vision to landmark buildings such as the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre, the Ontario Science Centre, the Scarborough Civic Centre, the Toronto Reference Library and the Bata Shoe Museum, all in Toronto; Science North in Sudbury; the National Museum of Saudi Arabia in Riyadh; the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo; and, of particular personal significance, the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, recipient of a 2008 Governor General’s Medal for Architecture. More recently the 124 Km Wadi Hanifa Project using bio-remediation has received the 2010 Aga Khan Award for Excellence in Architecture, 2011 UNESCO Prize, and stirring interest at the UN.

Raymond Moriyama’s honours include a Gold Medal from the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, a Lifetime Design Achievement Award from the Ontario Association of Architects, an International Fellowship from the Royal Institute of British Architects, an Honorary Fellowship from the American Institute of Architects, and honorary degrees from eleven universities. He has received the Order of Ontario and the Order of the Rising Sun (Japan), and is a Companion of the Order of Canada.

Margi Oksner

Margi Oksner is currently the principal of Margi Oksner and Associates, a full service consulting firm that offers strategic, creative and business planning in the philanthropic sector. She is also a professional speechwriter for many of Toronto’s foremost volunteers.

In her 35 years as a fundraising professional, Margi Oksner has developed a history of involvement in philanthropy and volunteerism that has crossed many different sectors in the Toronto community. Margi has been instrumental in the development of strategic plans, marketing and event planning for many of the top organizations in Toronto in the role of Director of Toronto Hadassah-WIZO, Director of the Men’s Service Group at Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care, Associate Campaign Director for the Baycrest…Imagine Your Future Without It $60 million Capital Campaign, and Executive Director of the Mount Sinai Hospital Auxiliary.

Her interest in all things written led her deeper into the marketing field when she joined the staff at UJA Federation as Marketing Manager for Major Gifts and the Jewish Foundation. However she couldn’t resist her first love – Baycrest - and returned there in 2007 as a Senior Development Officer, where she helped establish a new women’s philanthropy movement - Women of Baycrest. WB grew in three short years to include over 350 women with annual revenues in excess of $2 million.

Vera Schiff-Katz

Vera Schiff-Katz was born in 1926, in Prague, Czechoslovakia where she enjoyed a happy and comfortable life until the Nazi occupation.

In May 1942, Schiff-Katz’s entire family was deported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp where she was imprisoned for three years. Her entire family of 50 perished in different Nazi concentration and death camps. She is the sole survivor.

Her attempts to build a new home in Czechoslovakia after the war were thwarted by the communist coup d’état in 1948, and so she emigrated to Israel where she lived for 12 years. In 1961, she settled in Toronto where she worked as a medical technologist, specializing in hematology.

Following retirement Schiff-Katz worked as an interpreter and translator for the courts of law and the board of refugees and immigration in Ontario. Most of her retirement though has been dedicated to public speaking at schools where she recounts her years under Nazism. She has also participated twice (2005 and 2010) in the "March of the Living ", accompanying Canadian educators to sites of Nazi concentration and death camps, recounting the tragedy of the Second World War.

In 1996, Schiff-Katz published her memoirs, titled Theresienstadt the town the Nazis gave to the Jews. Subsequently she also wrote an anthology titled Hitler's Inferno, a summary of personal accounts of her relatives and friends during the Second World War. She also published a booklet titled Diary from Theresienstadt, the memoirs of her mother who died in the camp. Her next work is in the process of publication and deals also with life in the concentration camp.

In 2012, Vera Schiff-Katz was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of New Brunswick.

Greg Smallenberg

Greg Smallenberg is a native of Vancouver, where he obtained an honours degree in Landscape Architecture at the University of British Columbia. He has practiced from the Vancouver base of Phillips Farevaag Smallenberg for most of his career. Smallenbetrg’s focus has been largely directed towards the firm’s national and international portfolio and he has established himself as a leader in Canadian Landscape Architecture. His process-based design approach along with his popularity in many professional circles has resulted in numerous invitations to present ideas at international conferences and universities.

Smallenberg is noted for his demonstrated success on directing highly visible, often complex projects for both the private and public sectors where he has worked successfully with every level of government. Commissions under his direction tend to be large scale and multi-disciplinary and they range from very contemporary built works to management plans for designated historic landscapes. He is very interested in the intersections of culture, history and place making as it relates to Landscape Architecture and urban design.

Over his career, Smallenberg has served on numerous urban design juries in Canada and Asia. He has been a sessional lecturer at the University of British Columbia and a guest lecturer at several universities in China. He is a Fellow of the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects where he served on the Board of Governors. He is also a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architecture distinguished as such because of his delivery of award winning built works throughout the world.

Smallenberg has served as Director and President of the BCSLA and was a governor for the CSLA. He is a past member of the Waterfront Toronto Advisory Design Review Panel.


The jury recommended six finalist teams to advance to Phase 2 of the competition.