Media Invitation – Press Conference

Surviving War or Genocide: Community-University Research Team Unveils Top Ten Recommendations

MONTREAL, March 1, 2012 – One of the recommendations of the Bouchard-Taylor report on Accommodation Practices Related to Cultural Differences was that Quebecers should invest efforts and resources to record the life stories of newcomers to Quebec. In that same spirit, and in an effort to promote integration and combat racism through illuminating the experiences of genocide and crimes against humanity which the newcomers survived, Life Stories of Montrealers Displaced by War, Genocide, and Other Human Rights Violations (Montreal Life Stories - www.lifestoriesmontreal.ca), a Community-University Research Alliance funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, has asked how large scale violence is experienced and remembered through the evidence of life history interviewing and collective storytelling. What does it mean to be a “survivor” of war or genocide and living in Quebec? Over the past five years, the project has recorded the life stories of more than 500 Montreal residents. and plans to disseminate them through film, theater, dance, radio and television productions, and educational materials for schools. At the press conference, the Life Stories project will unveil the top ten public policy recommendations which have emerged from its research and the 500 interviews that have been collected.

The scars of mass violence can be seen in many communities. Community efforts to remember have never been more important than they are right here, right now. The Life Story interviews gathered the personal testimonies of Montrealers who have survived the Holocaust, the Rwandan and Cambodian genocides, and political violence in Haiti, Latin America, Asia, North Africa and the Middle East. The Life Stories project has given Montrealers displaced by war, genocide and other human rights violations an opportunity to preserve their personal and collective histories, to share their experiences with each other and to voice what they have endured to the Montreal public at large, thereby enriching every Montrealers’ understanding of our changing city and the diversity that comprises the identities of its citizens.

These stories matter. They matter for what they tell us about our friends, neighbors, co-workers, parents, and grandparents. They matter for what they tell us about the world in which we live. These stories are now our stories.

The press conference will also unveil the detailed program of Montreal Life Stories Rencontres, close to 40 different, but related events that will take place throughout the city of Montreal during the month of March 2012 and begin to disseminate the research that has been accomplished over the past 5 years.

The Rencontres will include: an international academic conference, a press conference, exhibitions, film screenings, a multimedia installation, round table discussions, workshops, and various artistic displays and performances.

Press conference
When: Thursday, March 8, 10:00 am
Where: Monument-National
1182, St-Laurent, Montréal, QC H2X 2S5

The 18 community partners of the Montreal Life Stories project will be present at the press conference in support of the Montreal Life Stories’ recommendations. They include: the Cambodian Genocide Group, Centre commémoratif de l’Holocauste à Montréal, Centre international de documentation et d’information haïtienne, caribéenne et afro-canadienne, Communauté angkorienne du Canada, Communauté sépharade unifiée du Québec, Conseil canadien pour les réfugiés, Creative Alternatives, Documentation Centre of Cambodia, Equitas – Centre international d’éducation aux droits humains, Isangano, Jewish Immigrant Aid Services of Canada, LEARN, Page-Rwanda – Association des parents et amis des victimes du génocide au Rwanda, Parole citoyenne / Citizenshift, Temple bouddhiste khmer de Montréal, Théâtre Teesri Duniya, Université Concordia, Centre d’histoire orale et de récits numérisés.

Questions will be answered by:

Moderator: Lisa Ndejuru
Coordinating Committee Member and Former Artist in Residence

Stéphane Martelly
Montreal Life Stories – Haitian Working Group

Emmanuel Habimana
Montreal Life Stories – Rwandan Working Group

Nolsina Yim
Montreal Life Stories – Cambodian Working Group

Steven High
Professor and Lead Researcher for the Montreal Life Stories Project

Audrey Licop
Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre - Event and Communications Coordinator

Source :
Gracia Dyer Jalea
Dissemination Coordinator
Montreal Life Stories Project
514-795-7688
gdyerjalea@gmail.com