Cambodian Working Group

One of the primary motivations for the Cambodian Working Group is to educate, heal and rebuild pride in the Khmer heritage. Of special significance to the members of the Cambodian Working Group is the transmission of knowledge from one generation to the next. Displacement has resulted in a loss of historical and cultural knowledge, based on the loss of social and cultural context. This has become exacerbated not only by the ongoing trauma that is experienced by many first generation survivors of the Cambodian genocide, but also by social and political factors that have made it extremely difficult for some Cambodians to discuss this time period in Cambodian history.

The Cambodian Working Group will focus their efforts on collecting life stories to allow us to better understand the complexity of integration by Cambodian people now living in Montreal. In order to do so, we will recruit from a broad spectrum of Cambodians of diverse origins, ages, religions and education. We will encourage them to participate and they will be welcome to this project.

The Cambodian Working Group would also like to work against the stereotype of Cambodia as a « genocidal » place. Indeed, the question has been posed that before the genocide, what did non-Cambodians know about Cambodia? While the adults living under the Khmer Rouge regime, who possess an intact memory of these times, are the people called on for this project, this is not the only goal. The life stories and testimonies of those interviewed, are rich and precious narratives which will serve as memoirs for future generations, to educate the young and to rebuild difficult and forgotten periods in Cambodian history.

Our Projects

The Cambodian Working Group will collect the stories of Cambodians currently living in Montreal. Of special significance to this Working Group is the transmission of knowledge from one generation to the next, and the communication between Montrealers and Canadians of Cambodian and other origins. Displacement can result in a loss of historical and cultural knowledge. The trauma experienced by many first generation survivors of the Cambodian genocide is often compounded by social and political factors that make it challenging for some people to discuss this time period in their history.

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Interviewing
The Cambodian Working Group intends to conduct 110 life story interviews. People who were adults and lived under the Khmer Rouge regime will be a special focus; however the Cambodian Working Group strives to engage a broad interviewee base. Cambodian people of diverse origin, age, religious, educational and ethnic backgrounds will be asked to participate in the project in order to reconstruct memory of not only the most difficult periods in Cambodian history, but of the years before and since. When appropriate, the Working Group may conduct group interviews. Interviewees will be recruited through word of mouth, public fora, special community events organized at Cambodian organizations and temples, and through advertisements in Cambodian community newspapers.

Community Mobilization
In October 2007, the Cambodian Working Group hosted the official launch of the Life Stories project, which was attended by more than 100 people. And in July 2008, the Working Group set up a Life Stories-CURA information kiosk at the largest Cambodian festival in Canada, co-organized by Life Stories partner, la Communauté Angkorienne du Canada. At this event -- held in Long Sault, Ontario, and attended by thousands of people -- project members answered questions from the public and distributed hundreds of pamphlets.

Academic Publishing
Journal articles, reports and conference papers will be published, and a Community Documentation Centre established.

Cambodian Community Radio
Radio broadcasts of life stories will be produced for Cambodian community members in Montreal.

International Colloquium
A colloquium on the Cambodian genocide is planned to share research results with both scholars and the general public. 

College Course
A CEGEP course, with a focus on the Cambodian genocide, historical memory and justice, is being developed.

 Graphic Novels
A graphic novel series on the life stories of genocide survivors will be produced and distributed in Canada and Cambodia.

Photography and Website
The life stories will be shared through photography and digital media projects.