TORONTO, AUG 15, 2017 Diversity is Canada’s – and Ontario’s greatest strength. We have flourished as a society because of our welcoming spirit to people of all creeds, cultures, and backgrounds. At the same time, we recognize that many communities are still struggling with the impact of past atrocities. The Mosaic Institute is reaching out to some of those communities with Survivors’ Stories, a cross-cultural discourse in keeping with the Mosaic model of respectful dialogue with a focus on both youth and elders to share their common lived experience.

The Mosaic Institute has partnered with the Aboriginal Sport and Wellness Council of Ontario, Canadian Romani Alliance, Armenian General Benevolent Union, Canadian Association of Rwandan Youth, Rwandan Canadian Association, and The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs– whom all have faced genocide or crimes against humanity in their community’s histories- to establish a youth Steering Committee.

The Committee will meet throughout the year to share their stories and attend awareness-building community events. The outcomes of the dialogues will be ultimately transformed into resources that will be shared broadly to strengthen intercultural understanding amongst Canadians. We are looking to bring on other communities with similar historical experiences in the future.

An Indigenous steering committee member, Haley Cochrane notes, “We acknowledge those who did not survive their countries’ genocide and we do this work in your honour. Our unique Committee is made up of family members of survivors from different genocides that took place around the world. We feel the loss that our ancestors felt. We are here to offer healing to those who need it and to implement proactive measures to ensure that genocide ends for good.”

One of our Rwandan steering committee members, Kizito Bijyinama Musabimana adds, “A genocide survivor’s experience never ends with the atrocity. Its horror lives on in our minds, and the more we try to forget, the more horrifying our life can become. As we enter new societies, we cover up – daring never to be asked the question; what’s wrong? From this day, we do this – no longer, ready to face our challenges. We hope to learn from each other by engaging in bold conversations, bringing comfort and creating inclusivity through shared experience.”

Bernie M. Farber, Executive Director of the Mosaic Institute noted, “Communities whose children have grown up in the shadow of inhumanity carry with them a special strength and a strong soul. We are grateful to the Province of Ontario, through the Ontario150 program for providing the funding which will permit these young people to not only share their common felt experiences but to also learn from others outside their communities.”

“Ontario150 is an important time to reflect on our diversity and commit to better relations between and within all communities, particularly  religious or ethno-cultural communities with painful connections to conflict,” said Eleanor McMahon, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport. “That’s why I’m proud to support Survivors’ Stories, an important project from the Mosaic Institute that will help build a stronger, more inclusive Ontario and assist reconciliation efforts with both Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples by facilitating the therapeutic airing of historic tragedies to promote healing.”

About Ontario 150
2017 is the 150th anniversary of Ontario as a province. To recognize this historically significant year, the government has launched Ontario150, a year-long commemoration that is honouring the province’s past, showcasing the present and inspiring future generations.  Through the Ontario150 grant programs and a series of signature initiatives, Ontario is engaging youth, encouraging cultural expression, promoting participation in sport and recreation, and creating economic opportunities across the province.

Mosaic Institute
The Mosaic Institute is a charitable not-for-profit organization founded in 2007, which works to amplify the voices of Canada’s diverse communities across the country.

Press contact:
Dr pamela Divinsky, Executive Director, Mosaic Institute | 416-644-6000 ext. 620