Canadian border opens to Rwandan genocide survivor

By 
  • April 16, 2009
{mosimage}TORONTO - Fifteen years after the genocide in Rwanda, 24-year-old survivor Patricie Mukundiyukuri has come to Canada to bring a message of hope and forgiveness.

“What happened to Rwanda can be an example to people who are going through problems,” she said through an interpreter from Cornwall, Ont.

“Things which have happened in the past are over. We need to sit down, talk, forgive one another and be able to talk about peace.”


Mukundiyukuri will speak at the Fountaingate Christian Assembly Church in Cornwall on April 26. Plans are still being finalized for talks in Ottawa, Quebec and aboriginal reserves in Manitoba.

Mukundiyukuri is vice-president of Rose of Dignity, a Christian non-profit group helping Rwandan women who are survivors of the 1994 genocide get out of prostitution by teaching them life and business skills. Last year, Mukundiyukuri was invited to do a speaking tour in Canada about her experience with reconciliation by Northern Connections, a Christian, aboriginal-run organization which works with First Nations communities in northern Manitoba.

Mukundiyukuri was only nine years old when militants attacked her village, leading to the separation of her family and the deaths of her father and eight siblings during the genocide. Mukundiyukuri said she thought she was going to be killed when she was taken to a ditch with other villagers and ordered to dig graves for her friends who were murdered by strangers wielding machetes and razor-sharp hoes. But her life was spared because one of the killers remembered Mukundiyukuri’s mother who had helped her in the past.

In a span of 100 days, close to 800,000 Rwandans were killed during the genocide.

Mukundiyukuri said she plans to bring a message of peace, hope and reconciliation during her talks in Canada.

Before the genocide, she said she and her family were church-going Catholics. But the genocide shook her faith and trust in God.

After meeting Rose of Dignity founder Chantal Merizzi of Cornwall, who started her organization in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, three years ago, Mukundiyukuri said she came back to her faith.

“God opened up the doors for her to come,” Merizzi said.

“You can become bitter or better,” she added, “and she has always chosen to become better.”

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