Author, historian Erna Paris remembered for life spent championing human rights

TORONTO – Canadian historian and author Erna Paris, known for works that championed human rights and accountability, has died.

Her literary agent Michael Levine says she passed away Thursday of cancer at her home in Toronto. She was 83.

Paris was invested as a member of the Order of Canada in 2016 for a body of work dedicated to addressing injustice and exploring the roots of intolerance.

That included her book “In Long Shadows: Truth, Lies and History,” in which she examined the difficulty nations have in confronting shameful past events.

In the Order of Canada citation, the book was credited with inspiring efforts at reconciliation with residential school survivors in Canada and with descendants of slaves in the United States.

Levine says “the underlying theme of her life was social justice.”

“Whether she was dealing with the legacy of the Nazis, whether she was dealing with the International Criminal Court, whether she was dealing with the history of how the Inquisition came upon Spain after centuries of co-operation between Muslims and Jews, she was always searching out our common humanity,” Levine said Friday.

Her family asks that any charitable donations be made to Human Rights Watch Canada or to The Writers’ Union of Canada.

Paris is survived by husband Thomas Robinson and children Michelle Paris and Roland Paris, and three grandchildren.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 4, 2024.


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