Kitchener was originally settled by mostly German immigrants and known as Berlin, Ontario, until 1916. Jews began moving to the city as early as the 1860s, and by the 1950s, Kitchener's population of 44,867 had a Jewish community of about 400 people. Jews owned and operated many small businesses in this thriving hub of insurance companies and manufacturers.
Only about a dozen Holocaust survivor families settled in Kitchener after 1948. In the 1980s, survivors created the Waterloo County Holocaust Education Committee, with a mandate to educate the public about the Holocaust. Mania Kay became the Committee's guiding light, speaking to thousands of youth about her Holocaust experiences. In an interview, Mania explained: “Maybe that was the purpose for my survival, to talk about it.” She had not spoken to strangers about the war for 30 years, but a surge of Holocaust Denial in the 1980s spurred her to break her silence. “How could people come out with lies like that? ... I am a witness and I went through hell. I lost my youth. I lost my life, my family, everything. I'm still grieving over it. It's still fresh in my mind. I remember every detail. I decided I would talk to the young people.”