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August 16, 2018 5:04 pm

Fashion Photo Shoot at Holocaust Monument in Canada Condemned as Unacceptable ‘Desecration’ of Site

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

The National Holocaust Monument in Ottawa, Canada. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

A fashion photo shoot that took place last weekend at the National Holocaust Monument in Ottawa, Canada, has been deemed inappropriate and an insult to the site, the Ottawa Sun reported on Thursday.

Local Ottawa Rabbi Reuven Bulka, who spoke at the official opening of the monument in 2017, called Sunday’s photo shoot a “desecration of a sacred site” and said, “Here’s a place that commemorates the murder of six million Jews. Why would you do anything so inconsistent such as making it into a place of levity?”

The star-shaped $4.7 million monument has plaques chronicling the history of the Holocaust as well as massive monochromatic photos of significant Holocaust sites. An Instagram post by Montreal clothing designer Michèle Beaudoin, uploaded on Sunday, showed a woman standing at the monument wearing a revealing grey cut-out dress. Angles of the monument along with the Canadian War Museum, which is located across from the site, are visible in the background. The social media post was deleted after Beaudoin was contacted by the Ottawa Sun, according to the publication, and Beaudoin has since made her Instagram account private.

Ottawa fashion photographer Richard Tardif, who took the photos for the shoot on Sunday, told the Ottawa Sun, “After further consideration, we decided to end the session and discontinue the project. Also, all material has been deleted.”

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Rabbi Bulka said, “I don’t understand that people could do something like that and think it was appropriate. Are they breaching any law? Probably not. But it breaches common sense.”

He added that those who lost relatives in the Holocaust would be offended by Beaudoin’s use of monument. The rabbi further told the Vancouver radio station News 1130 that if Beaudoin picked a location “so gross” in order to get people talking about her work, then she succeeded.

“I don’t know exactly what the nature of the pictures were,” he said. “I’ve heard that they were more appropriate for the beach than anything else, but there’s beaches here too! You could have done it there…It’s not a crime, but it’s not appropriate — use your brains.”

Mina Cohn, director of the Centre for Holocaust Education and Scholarship at Carleton University’s Max and Tessie Zelikovitz Centre for Jewish Studies, also condemned the photo shoot. Cohn, the child of two Holocaust survivors, said, “It’s not a place for a fashion shoot. You wouldn’t do a fashion shoot at the National War Memorial downtown. That is not acceptable. And it’s not acceptable here either.”

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