Reflections
on Rwanda

Reflections on Rwanda (RoR) is SHOUT Canada’s flagship program, bringing together Canadians and Rwandans for genocide education and remembrance.

Why Reflections on Rwanda?

In 1994, Rwanda saw more than 800,000 of its citizens killed in less than 100 days in one of the clearest cases of genocide of the twentieth century. Even twenty-four years after the genocide, Rwandans still remain dedicated to rebuilding not only their lives, but also the sense of morality that was lost in the country. While much progress has been made in this small African Republic, the effects of the genocide persist for many. Whether contracting HIV as a consequence of rape or witnessing the death of family members and neighbours, for many Rwandans the impact of the genocide is still very much ongoing.

 

We believe that going to Rwanda is an invaluable experience for Canadian students and young professionals; they can witness not only the history of the genocide but also what is being done to rebuild the country. Indeed, there is much to be learned from this land and its resilient people. SHOUT Canada is founded on the belief that as responsible citizens, it is our task to become witnesses to history so that the stories of survivors become our stories, with the ultimate goal of learning from our collective mistakes of the past.

The importance of this program is simple. It is our belief that a program such as this can, and will, inspire the type of citizenship and leadership that Canada needs in the twenty-first century. In a time when historical revisionism and genocidal ideology still exists, even in Canada, and people continue to deny well-documented genocides, the need for Canadians to become first-hand witnesses to the impacts of genocide remains imperative.

How do Rwandans feel about the program?

Rwandans have been very supportive. We have met with a cross-section of individuals from many different areas of the country and we were given the same positive responses. We specifically asked many survivors how they felt about this program, and we were told repeatedly that we were very welcome in Rwanda. When we asked one survivor how she felt about Canadians going to Rwanda to visit relevant sites and learn about the country’s troubled past, she responded: “If you could bring every Canadian student, they would all be welcome.”

What do participants do on the trip?

Participants on the RoR trip learn first-hand about the events and people of the 1994 genocide by visits to genocide memorials and sites, listening to survivors and rescuers and by attending meetings with change-makers in Rwanda, to name a few. The program continues to evolve and change each year. A look at our past programs below will give you a sense of the activities participants engage in during the trip.

This was the year of the RoR Pilot Program. The in-country Program Organizer for the 2009 trip was Faustin Bismark Murangwa. The participants and program strategists were Candice Salmon, Sara Hylton, Raphael Shainfarber and Daniel Gahunde.

 

The group visited many historical and commemorative sites and met with several survivors, as well as officials from the National Commission for the Fight Against Genocide ("CNLG"), Association des Veuves du Genocide ("AVEGA"), IBUKA, and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda ("ICTR").

 

Following the program, the participants organized and launched the RoR Program nationwide for 2010.

ROR 2009

The in-country Program Organizers for the 2010 program were two of the co-founders, Raphael Shainfarber and Daniel Gahunde, as well as Faustin Bismark Murangwa. They were supported in Canada by the remaining two co-founders, Candice Salmon and Sara Hylton. There were 10 participants from across 6 Canadian provinces. Participant's backgrounds ranged from Political Science and International Development Studies to Law and Anthropology.

 

The group visited historical and commemorative sites and met with several survivors, as well as officials from the CNLG, AVEGA, the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission ("NURC"), the ICTR, and the Ministry of Defence.

ROR 2010

Following the program, participants conducted the following genocide prevention activities:

• Shared their experiences in Rwanda through presentations to colleagues, schools, and university classes.

• Wrote an editorial in STAND Canada's newsletter: http://standcanada.org/2010/08/

ROR 2011

The in-country Program Organizers for the 2011 program were Faustin Bismark Murangwa, Dane Degenstein (RoR Alum 2010), Christine Johnston (RoR Alum 2010) and Rachel Zacharias (RoR Alum 2010). They were supported in Canada by Raphael Shainfarber. There were 14 participants from across 4 Canadian provinces. Participant's backgrounds ranged from Political Science and International Development Studies to Law and Conflict Studies.

 

The group visited many historical and commemorative sites and met with several survivors, as well as officials from the CNLG, AVEGA, the NURC, the ICTR, the Gacaca Courts.

Most notably, the group met with President Paul Kagame at the Office of the President in the Cabinet Room on May 28, 2011. President Kagame was interviewed by Program Organizer Christine Johnston and the group appeared in The Sunday Times the following day:  http://www.newtimes.co.rw/news/index.php?i=14640&a=9502

Following the program, participants conducted the following genocide prevention activities:

  • Shared their experiences through presentations at middle schools and to university classmates.

  • Began a micro-finance cooperative called Umuko between Canada and Rwanda: https://www.facebook.com/umuko

  • Became active in commemorative events and activities with the Rwandan diaspora in Canada.

ROR 2012

The in-country Program Organizers for the 2012 program were Faustin Bismark Murangwa, Margot Bishop (RoR Alum 2011), Kurt Goddard (RoR Alum 2011), Audrey Madsen (RoR Alum 2010) and Rachel Zacharias (RoR Alum 2010). They were supported in Canada by Raphael Shainfarber. There were 16 participants from across 6 Canadian provinces. Participant's backgrounds ranged from Communications and Marketing to Law and History.

 

The group visited many historical and commemorative sites and met with several survivors, as well as officials from the CNLG, AVEGA, the NURC, and the Ministry of Defence.

Following the program, participants conducted the following genocide prevention activities:

• Wrote a Master's Thesis titled: “Reflections on a Tour of Rwanda”: https://www.uoguelph.ca/history/news/brad-crawford-his-research-rwanda

• Speaker at the Eleventh Conference of International Association of Genocide Scholars in Winnipeg with a speech titled: “Concentrate to Annihilate: Strategy, Massacre and Genocide in Rwanda”: http://www.genocidescholars.org/Winnipeg2014/

Following the program, participants conducted the following genocide prevention activities:

• Shared their experiences in Rwanda through presentations to colleagues, schools, and university classes.

• Wrote an editorial in STAND Canada's newsletter: http://standcanada.org/2010/08/

ROR 2013

The in-country Program Organizers for the 2013 program were Faustin Bismark Murangwa, Margot Bishop (RoR Alum 2011), Rebecca Butler (RoR Alum 2011) and Christine Johnston (RoR Alum 2010). They were supported in Canada by Rachel Zacharias (RoR Alum 2010) and Kurt Goddard (RoR Alum 2011). There were 11 participants from across 5 Canadian provinces. Participant backgrounds ranged from Political Science and International Development Studies to Law and Conflict Studies.

 

The group visited many historical and commemorative sites and met with several survivors, as well as officials from the CNLG, AVEGA, the NURC, the ICTR, the Ministry of Defence, the Gacaca Courts, the Rwandan Parliament, the Rwandan Senate, National University of Rwanda Students' Association, and the Rwandan Demobilization and Reintegration Commission ("RDRC").

ROR 2014 Restructuring

SHOUT Canada has been running the Reflections on Rwanda (RoR) Program in Rwanda and Canada since 2009. The decision was made by SHOUT Canada's Board of Directors to take the 2013-2014 program season to restructure, and thereby strengthen the RoR Program and SHOUT Canada going forward. Building on these achievements, we ran a successful trip in 2015. Read the report in the PDF to the right.

ROR 2015

The 2015 Reflections on Rwanda (RoR) program took place from May 17-31, 2015. The in-country Program Organizers for the 2015 program were Faustin Bismark Murangwa, Margot Bishop (RoR Alum 2011), Christine Johnston (RoR Alum 2010), Aviva Silbert (RoR 2013 Alum), and Jessica Zeroual (RoR 2013 Alum). There were 11 participants from across 5 Canadian provinces. Participant backgrounds ranged from Journalism, Political Science and International Development Studies to Law and Conflict Studies.

 

The program included several new and exciting elements, including:

 

ROR 2016-17 Restructuring

SHOUT Canada has been operating the Reflections on Rwanda (RoR) Program in Rwanda and Canada since 2009. The decision was made by SHOUT Canada's Board of Directors to take the 2013-2014 program season to restructure, and thereby strengthen the RoR Program and SHOUT Canada going forward. Building on these achievements, we ran a successful trip in 2015. Subsequently, as our Board of Directors grew and transitioned, we spent the 2016-2017 year reflecting on the future of the organization and developing institutional memory, with the goal of resuming the RoR program in Rwanda in the 2017-2018 season.

ROR 2018

Our 2018 ROR cohort visited Rwanda for two weeks this May, and had an amazing experience. We are excited to share our trip updates with you!

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