On April 7th, 2017 at noon, Parliament Hill will be the venue of the official launching of the 23rd Commemoration of the genocide perpetrated against the Tutsi of Rwanda. This solemn moment will start with a minute of silence accompanied by a bagpipes tune, in memory of the victims, followed by speeches for the occasion by invited guests, in order to remember, like the rest of the world, over a million men, women and children brutally killed in 1994 for being born Tutsi.

The 1994 genocide against Rwandese Tutsi is part of our collective conscience, as one of the worst mass crimes of the 20th century, not only in terms of numbers, but also the extreme cruelty associated with it. This commemoration event provides Canadian Rwandese survivors with the opportunity to pay tribute to members of their families systematically wiped out by hatred, which was deliberately created and disseminated by the regime in power at the time.

As the largest Rwandese community in North America, we seize this opportunity to thank all Canadians for their solidarity during the worst times in our country’s history and in our personal lives. As new Canadians, we are both grateful and proud of our host country, where we feel at home and celebrate life anew.

The past 23 years are also an occasion to look back at our journey, made of superhuman efforts to rebuild the social fabric of our community and our country, and to keep alive the memory of what happened, so that humanity always remembers. Hence the relevance of the theme chosen by the Rwandese authorities to mark this event, articulated around three objectives, i.e. “memory, unity and renewal”.

These objectives remind us of the trend-setting message of the Canadian Parliament, when it voted two highly significant motions, one making April 7th “A commemoration day for the victims of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda” (passed in 2014), and the other making it “A day of reflection on genocide prevention” (passed in 2008). Laudable as these initiatives are, the survivors’ community has another strongly held memorial wish.  We call upon all peace-loving people, those who aspire for a world free from genocides, to help us realize our dream of a commemoration memorial in the National Capital Region.

We have seen, over the last twenty three years, the development of genocide denial and revisionist activities of tremendous proportions. Organized individuals and groups have undertaken worldwide deceitful campaigns that aim at putting perpetrators and victims under the same banner. Finally, the 23rd Commemoration gives us space and time to reflect on the living conditions of our brothers and sisters who survived, with tremendous physical and psychological after-effects associated with the genocide. It is the time to think about ways and means to alleviate their continued suffering. Today, 23 years after, they still call upon our solidarity.

Thank you!