Remember * Inspire * Engage

 

Dialogue on the Rwandan Post-Genocide Reconciliation Model 

University of British Columbia

Saturday, Feb 22, 2021

Spreading the word

The second dialogue on Rwanda’s Post-Genocide Reconciliation Model was the result of a conversation between African students from the University of British Columbia, who attended the RR25 Inaugural event at SFU and the event organizers. They told us they were inspired by what they heard at SFU. They wanted us to bring the message to UBC campus, because they felt that the audience on the campus would gratefully benefit from hearing it.

 

They intimated that African students who arrive to study in Canada, face a major psychological challenge. How to reconcile with people from one’s own country who belong to different tribes or ethnic groups? “If Rwandans can rise above the fray and reconcile; perhaps there was something we can learn from the Rwandan model, and use it to build community, locally,” they wondered.

 

The more we talked, the more we realised that their request merited our attention. We formed a planning committee and decided to organize four discussion groups. There will be four panelists who will frame the event and give a contextual description of how Rwandans turned the problem of human destruction into an act of reconciliation over a period of 25 years.

 

A panel of speakers gave an illustration of the problem of post genocide reconciliation was handled. Rwanda and how reconciliation through action works was implemented.  origin and the process of the reconciliation process Each conflict will have a facilitator and a note taker. The group will select a rapporteur who will summarize the results if the discussion group. city and decided to shine the light on them.  that we could explore ways the Rwandan model could shed the light on them: Tribalism and Ethnic division, Gender, Islamophobia and Settlers vs Indigenous conflicts.  

 

WHAT WE HEARD

 

Tribalism & Ethnic Division

The impact of colonialism is not limited to Africa. It spreads to all former colonies; including Asia, Latin America where they used the divide and conquer tactic. In fact, one can argue that the current political impasse in the United States of America has disintegrated into what can be called tribal wrangling between the Red Republicans and the Blue Democrats. They allow to close their eyes to what the occupant of the White House is doing so long as he gives them supreme court judges.  It’s tribalism and harmful the way this post-colonial cancer is used to corrode African political system.   

 

“This dialogue offered a great opportunity to learn about the Rwandan model and engage in a meaningful conversation about possible solution to finding potential application to what prevents people to thrive in their new home communities.”

   

Gender Conflict

In the last 26 years, Rwanda rose from the abyss to become a model of excellence, not only in Africa but around the world in gender equity. Today, Rwanda leads the world in female representation at the legislature. Women members of parliament make up 56%. In post- genocide Rwanda, our mothers, our aunties, our sisters and our daughters proved to the world that they can lead the country to prosperity only if we untie their hands. They reminded us that Rwanda cannot advance with half of its population left behind. 

 

“I’m proud to hear the story of reconciliation in Rwanda. More importantly, I was inspired to learn how Rwanda is leading the world in terms of female representation in the legislature. Rwanda is shining light to many young African women who see women in leadership position.”

 

Islamophobia

Bigotry prevents people to see what unites us as humans and instead focuses on what divides us. Islamophobia is the type of bigotry that blinds one’s perception of the other and renders them incapable of appreciating people for who they really are. If you are wearing head gear, they assume you are Muslim. They assume that all Syrians are Muslim, or since Sikhs wear a headgear, they are Muslim. In Canada, we have ample opportunities to learn from each-other, however lack of openness clouds our ability to meet people we don’t know and learn from them.  

 

“Islamophobia is a type of bigotry based on knee-jerk reaction of anti-Muslim. This dialogue only scratched the surface. It allowed participants to hear from those who have been impacted by this racist ill- informed reaction. The model of post genocide Rwanda reconciliation helped framed the conflict and allowed us to see that if Rwandans can do it, so can we. We need more discussion groups that bring people together, to learn and share their experience to build our community.”   

Indigenous Vs Settlers

We were honored to have Shane Point of the Musqueam Nation, who opened the event with territorial acknowledgement warm words of encouragement. He stated that the work that Rwandans have done to reconcile after the horror of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsis was a remarkable achievement, that we can learn from.

 

In Rwanda, both the perpetrator and the survivor are cash poor. However, in the absence of monetary compensation, perpetrators were able to pay with sweat equity. They offered to pay with personal labor. They offered to cultivate the survivor’s land for free, for the rest of their lives. Canada is a rich nation. There are no reason why Indigenous people should carry the burden of poverty, while settles enjoy a high standard of living. We need a deeper conversation that will lead to sustainable reparations for the traditional owners of this land.   

 

“The Rwandan model makes a compelling case. It works at the individual level, with the support of the government and the courts. At the end of the day, we are not asking settlers to leave everything they have acquired and return to where they came from. We are asking them to endorse a national redress that leads to cash reparations, so that First Nations can equally enjoy the fruit of their labor. I would like to see this discussion across different demographics and communities, beyond the academia. " 

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