- CA JMABC A.1971.001-20.14-10
- March 16, 2014
Part of JHSBC Oral History Collection
Oral history interview with Helen Waldstein Wilkes. Helen was born in Czechoslovakia in 1936. In the spring of 1939, Helen and her family left their home in Czechoslovakia and immigrated to Canada to escape the Nazis. Helen felt like an outsider during her early years in Canada, but she was educated in Ontario and excelled in school and eventually received her PhD in French Literature.
She spent most of her career as a teacher of French and French education in Vancouver. Around the time of her retirement, Helen became more deeply interested in her Jewish heritage. She is now an active member of the Or Shalom congregation. In 2010 she published 'Letters from the Lost: A Memoir of Discovery,' a well-received book which describes her discovery of the desperate letters sent to her parents from relatives who were still trapped in Europe as the Holocaust began, and her growing engagement with her own cultural inheritance.
Throughout Helen's life, reading and philosophy have helped her to make sense of the world and the meaning of her life.