SUDBURY – Jean Pierre Kanuma, a student at Cambrian College, grew up without his parents. They were two of nearly one million people who were killed in Rwanda in 1994. Their only child was just two years old at the time.
“No kid should ever see what I saw,” he says. “Anything can happen in life, really quickly. Things can go from white to dark in the snap of a finger.”
On April 6, 1994, the Rwandan president’s plane was shot down as he approached the national airport in Kigali. Within one hour, military and militia roadblocks barred access into and out of the capital, and prevented movement within the city. The killing squads would slaughter an estimated 800,000 to one million people during the next 100 days.
On April 24, Cambrian College’s Open Studio will host an evening to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the genocide, one of the twentieth century’s greatest humanitarian catastrophes. It pays tribute to the College’s multicultural community, which includes dozens of international students, including several from sub-Saharan Africa. It also continues to position the Studio as a forum for community engagement and social discourse.
During the event, there will be a screening of Rising from Ashes, a feature-length documentary film on Rwanda in the post-genocide era that focuses on the incredible rise of the national cycling team. A discussion and Q&A panel follows. Markus Schwabe, host of Morning North on CBC radio, hosts the evening.
“The way I could see the past in their eyes is pretty much the hope the bike gave them,” says Jock Boyer, the team’s coach, during the film. “You could see how much they were hanging on for dear life on the bike, because it was their way out.”
There is no admission to this event; however, donations will be gratefully accepted and offered to Road to Knowledge, a Sudbury-based organization supporting primary and secondary education efforts in Rwanda. The evening takes place at the Open Studio, 93 Cedar St., suite 303. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the film screens at 7 p.m.
– 30 –
Mary Katherine Keown,
(705) 566-8101, ext. 6876