By Lama Mugabo
Cost Salish Territories – On Thursday, June 6, 2019, Building Bridges with Rwanda, joined hands with Hogan’s Alley Society and SFU’s Institute for Diaspora Research and Engagement to host the 25th commemoration of the genocide perpetrated against the Tutsis in Rwanda.
Let’s Celebrate the resilience of Rwanda’s goal was to educate, inspire and engage the Metro Vancouver public in understanding the remarkable journey Rwandans have traveled in rebuilding their nations from the devastation of the 1994 genocide to build a model state that other African nations are emulating.
“What a lucky bounce”, exclaimed Steven Kega, one of the volunteers who helped plan the event. “We never anticipated that guests from Women Deliver conference would find our event attractive and join us to celebrate the milestone of post genocide reconstruction and reconciliation”.
We had been communicating with the Rwandan Charge d’Affaires in the time leading to the event. A couple days before the event, we learned that ministers of gender and family promotion Hon. Soline Nyirahabineza, as well as the minister of health, Dr. Diane Gashumba, will be joining us to celebrate the resilience of Rwanda.
Rwandan millennial voices
In planning this commemorative event, we wanted to organize an event that centers the role of Rwanda’s millennials. We wanted the public to hear their voices, learn about their projects, and dreams for their country. As a diaspora community, we believe that we have the ability to foster sustainable development in our home country, and contribute to building livable communities in Vancouver.
Sandrine Umuhoza, a 24-year-old bright and confident international student at Simon Fraser University. Her story is fueled with hope for a better tomorrow. A contrast from a 24-year-old woman in 1993 Rwanda. Today, Rwanda leads the world in in female representation in the legislature.
“When, I left Rwanda last year”, Sandrine remembers, “I was lucky to be on a Rwanda Air flight piloted by the first female pilot the country has produced. Ester Mbabazi happened to be my age today. I was thrilled to experience this moment.”
Vancouver rises to the occasion
The City of Vancouver issued a proclamation to commemorate Rwanda’s 25 years of post genocide reconstruction. Deputy Mayor Rebecca Bligh joined the event to read the proclamation. Simon Fraser Chancellor, Anne Giardini reiterated the support SFU has given to Rwanda over the years. As my alma matter, SFU International has supported the laborious work of keeping the memory of Rwanda in the public limelight.
RR25 Legacy Project.
In collaboration with SFU Office of Advancement, we are looking to engage the public in a learning exchange exercise that will consist of a bi-annual conference and study tours to the land of a thousand hills, to learn about the experience of Rwanda.
We have planned a series of public engagement activities and opportunity to become involved.