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Survivors of Rwandan and Nazi Genocides Share Their Experiences

Azrieli Foundation Hosts Compelling Program at Ryerson University

By: David Shear
Published: April 10th, 2013 in News » World
More than half of Canada’s Holocaust survivors and more than 5,000 members of the Rwandan community call Toronto home and this year the commemorations of the atrocities that affected their communities fall on the same date. In recognition of both Holocaust Remembrance Day and Rwanda Genocide Memorial Day, a compelling program hosted by the Azrieli Foundation on April 8th at Ryerson University brought together survivors from the two communities.

The program, called “Write to Heal: Genocide and Memoir,” explored the process of healing through writing and the power of personal testimony with survivor and academic speakers: Rachel Shtibel, Holocaust survivor and author of her memoir, The Violin; Dr. Régine King, Assistant Professor of Social Work at the University of Manitoba and Rwandan genocide survivor who is currently writing her memoir; Dr. Paula David, Institute for Life Course and Aging and the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Toronto, who discussed her work with Holocaust survivors and the challenges, benefits and effects on older adults of sharing their personal narratives, and Leora Schaefer, Canadian director of Facing History and Ourselves, who discussed the impact of memoirs on future generations.

“People from both these communities have had to overcome so much in their native countries and have contributed so much to their new homes in Canada. There is a great deal to learn from one another and much to share as they remember their distinctive pasts,” said Dr. Naomi Azrieli, Chair and Executive Director of the Azrieli Foundation. “Firsthand testimony is a powerful way to understand the incredible lives they have lived and remember those whom they have lost. It is our collective responsibility to make sure the next generation is aware of the atrocities that still face so many people around the world today and, with this knowledge, stand up for human rights in the future.”
Related articles: Rwanda, Nazi, Genocide, Toronto, Azrieli Foundation, Ryerson University, Jewish, Holocaust
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