Cambodia Working Group News

Chantria Tram and Paul Tom lauch a project for Khmer Montrealer Youths

“Voices of the 1.5 Generation”
Reconciliation through oral history performance

Khmer-Canadian artists Chantria Tram and Paul Tom are leading 16-20 Khmer (Cambodian) youths into uncharted territory in an unprecedented artist in residency project sponsored by the Montreal Life Stories Project.

Through an organic and collaborative creative process rooted in shared authority, “Voices of the 1.5 Generation” explores the two-way transmission of stories and memories between a generation that has endured extreme human rights violations, and their children—young people who, while receiving these stories, are also in the midst of creating and redefining their own identities and narratives. What perspectives do these Khmer youths have to share, and what do these say about where we are in the process of transmitting stories? How will these new emerging stories shape the Khmer community and identity? What is the legend that youths wish to now create for themselves and for future generations?

Using oral history interviews from the Cambodian Working Group of the Montreal Life Stories Project as a launching point, participants will meet each week starting in January 2012 over an intensive three-month long journey to explore their personal and collective narratives. The project will begin with participatory research, move into in-studio exploration through acting and storytelling workshops, and culminate with a theatrical outcome and short documentary film tracing the creative process through in-studio recordings, video diaries and group interviews. The work will be presented as part of the Montreal Life Stories March 2012 "We Are Here" programme — a month-long series of events that will include workshops, exhibitions, performances, screenings, and the international conference “Beyond Testimony and Trauma: Oral History in the Aftermath of Mass Violence.”


Chantria Tram is a Toronto and Montreal-based actor, writer and workshop facilitator. She co-founded Apsara Theatre Company in 2008 and wrote/performed its inaugurating piece called “Someone Between.” She continues to create and lead workshops with different communities.

Paul Tom is a versatile Montreal-based award winning writer/filmmaker, working in animation, fiction and documentary films. Currently, he is completing a documentary about his first trip to Cambodia and animating a short at the NFB.

The Montreal Life Stories Artist-in-Residence project is directed by Edward Little, professor of theatre at Concordia University.

For full details of the project, please visit Chantria Tram's website

Nolsina Yim and Marita Arnold speak about Cambodian colloquium on CKUT 90.3 FM

Tune into CKUT 90.3 FM this week, to hear interviews with Nolsina Yim and Marita Arnold, members of the Cambodian Working Group, about the international colloquium Cambodia from then to now: memory and plural identities in the aftermath of genocide taking place May 5, 6, and 7 at Concordia University in Montreal.

A live French-language interview with Nolsina Yim will take place Monday, May 2 at 5 PM on the news program, En Profondeur,
and will be re-broadcast Thursday, May 5, at 7:10 AM on Lendemain de Veille.

A live English-language interview with Marita Arnold, in English, will take place Tuesday, May 3 at 5 PM, on the news program, Off the Hour,
and will be re-broadcast Friday, May 6, at 8:15 AM on the Friday Morning After.

If you miss the broadcast live, fear not!! The interview will be available a few weeks, here: and the Citizenshift website here:

"Que je vive en paix" wins the price for best animation film

Congratulations to Paul Tom, post production coordinator and student member of the Cambodian working group, who brought home the prize for best animation film for his short "Que je vive en paix" (That I may live in peace) at the student film and video festival portion of the World Film Festival.

See the film in its entirety on our French home page.

Call for presentations

Cambodia, from then to now: Memory and plural identities in the aftermath of genocide

Concordia University, Montreal, Canada
5th, 6th and 7th of May, 2011

Few topics stake a more compelling claim on humanities and social science research or artistic interpretation than the history of war, genocide, and other human rights abuses. Perversely, revelations about the historic effects and patterns of major human rights abuses have become a “normal” feature of contemporary society. This is reflected, for example, in the evidence emanating from Truth and Reconciliation Commissions and war crimes tribunals in a growing number of countries including Canada. The profoundly disturbing historical reality is that, throughout the 20th century, episodes of genocide and other crimes against humanity have wreaked havoc on peoples and cultures in virtually every region of the world.

The bilingual (French/English) three day conference, which will have the Franco-Cambodian cineast Rithy Panh and the historian David P. Chandler as keynotes, will explore how the genocide perpetrated by the Khmers rouges on the Cambodian population from April 1975 to January 1979, has been remembered and why. How have these horrific events shaped current Khmer identity? What lessons can be drawn from the Cambodian experience, both in Cambodia and in the Diaspora? What has been the legacy of the genocide? What stories are being transmitted to the next generation? Should the entire story of a painful past should be transmitted and how? How have artists and filmmakers engaged with the Cambodian genocide? What has been the effect of recent trials on public and private remembering? Thirty years later, is justice and reconciliation being achieved? In responding to these and other questions, participants in the colloquium are invited to reflect on the meaning of mass violence in the context of the “before”, “during” and the “after” - both in terms of the life stories of survivors as well as Khmer identity and Cambodian history more generally.

Scholars as well as artists and new media projects are invited to submit a proposal for a presentation, performance, exhibition or screening. We are aiming for a diversity of participants with a shared interest in the Cambodian genocide and its aftermath. Only a limited number of proposals will be accepted. There will be two concurrent sessions running throughout the colloquium, and the format of the presentation will enable participants to engage with one another’s ideas over the course of the three days. This international colloquium is being organized by the Cambodian Working Group of the Montreal Life Stories Project (, a major collaborative research project involving Montreal’s Cambodian, Rwandan, Haitian and Jewish communities as well as various educational, artistic and human rights organizations. The main objective of the project is to collect, interpret and transmit testimonies of Montrealers displaced by war, genocide and other human rights violations. “Cambodia, from then to now” is the third international conference organized by the Montreal Life Stories project and, like our previous conferences, could result in a publication. We look forward to meeting you and welcome you in Montreal as one of our guests in May 2011.

Presentation proposals of about 250 words should be submitted with a short curriculum vitae, both of which must be forwarded to us by October 1st of 2010 to the following individuals of the organizing committee:

Vanaka Chhem Kieth, Student (MSc Human Rights, London School of Economics)

Nolsina Yim, Journalist and documentary writer

Steven High, Canada Research Chair in Oral History

* Please note that the conference will be bilingual (French/English). We will provide translation to insure that a wide circle will be able to participate in the proceedings.

* Please note that all expenses associated with travel and journey arrangements must be taken in charge by the participants. Do not hesitate to contact us for further information.