Minister Kenney Launches Refugee Voices

Voices of Refugees Installation launched by Immigration  and Citizenship’s Minister Jason Kenney, June 2009.

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The Voices of Refugees Multimedia Installation was officially launched by Citizenship and Immigration Canada Minister Jason Kenney on June 16 2009.  SEE www.cic.gc.ca/english/department/media/photos/2009/

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Minister Kenney Launches “Voices of Refugees”

OTTAWA, ONTARIO–(Marketwire – June 16, 2009) – In recognition of World Refugee Day, “Voices of Refugees,” a new multi-media presentation combining portraits with videos of refugees telling their stories, was unveiled today by Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney and Mr. Abraham ABRAHAM, Representative in Canada of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

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“Voices of Refugees enables refugees to share their stories with all Canadians, to show that there are real people in real danger,” said Minister Kenney. “Refugees are sometimes forgotten as a faceless group stranded in a far away land. We need to heed these voices and listen to their stories.”

This project came from two ordinary Canadians – Graham Thompson and Sherry Tompalski – doing extraordinary things. The partnership between these two Canadians and the refugee artists featured in the multi-media presentation is the kind of initiative that will help bridge communities and build a more inclusive and cohesive Canada for all.

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“These works of art speak for themselves and help us understand that refugees are not faceless statistics, but real people with talents and with real needs like you and me. Ask them and you will know that every refugee has a moving story to tell,” said Mr. Abraham.

Every year Canada’s refugee programs provide protection to more than 30,000 people. We have a fair and generous domestic refugee protection system that is well regarded internationally. Through our resettlement program, we provide protection to 1 in 10 refugees who are resettled globally. In fact, since World War II, Canadians have provided refuge to over 1 million refugees.

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Even so, the Government of Canada is exploring ways to improve the refugee status determination system and our resettlement approach in order to better help refugees. Canada must focus our resources where they can do the most good. Working with its many partners including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Organization for Migration, private sponsors and service providers, Canada is helping refugees begin their lives anew.

Voices of Refugees is a testament to those who have already come to Canada and of the thousands still in need of protection. This presentation highlights the remarkable bravery of these individuals and the important contributions they are making to Canadian society.

Oxford University England Afghan Voices Video

Voices from Afghanistan video posted on Forced Migration BLOG of University of Oxford, January 2008.

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The Voices from Afghanistan video, part of the Voices of Refugees Installation, was posted in the Forced Migration BLOG of Online Refugee Studies Centre of the University of Oxford England’s Department of International Development (QEH) in January 2008.

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University of Oxford Backgrounder

The University of Oxford (informally Oxford University or simply Oxford) is a collegiate research university located in Oxford, England, United Kingdom. While having no known date of foundation, there is evidence of teaching as far back as 1096, making it the oldest university in the English-speaking world and the world’s second-oldest university in continuous operation.

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It grew rapidly from 1167 when Henry II banned English students from attending the University of Paris. After disputes between students and Oxford townsfolk in 1209, some academics fled northeast to Cambridge where they established what became the University of Cambridge. The two “ancient universities” are frequently jointly referred to as “Oxbridge”.

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Voices from Afghanistan Video

Notable Graduates from Oxford University
Theresa May
(1956- ) St Hugh’s Jul 2016 Conservative
David Cameron
(1966- ) Brasenose May 2010-Jul 2016 Conservative
Tony Blair
(1953-  )St John’s May 1997-Jun 2007 Labour
Margaret Thatcher
(1925-2013) Somerville May 1979-Nov 1990 Conservative
Harold Wilson
(1916-1995) Jesus Oct 1964-Jun 1970 Labour Mar 1974-Apr 1976
Edward Heath
(1916-2005) Balliol Jun 1970-Mar 1974 Conservative
Sir Alec Douglas-Home
(1903-1995) Christ Church Oct 1963-Oct 1964 Unionist/Conservative
Harold Macmillan
(1894-1986) Balliol Jan 1957-Oct 1963 Conservative

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The Refugee Studies Centre Overview

The Refugee Studies Centre (RSC) was founded in 1982 as part of the Oxford Department of International Development (Queen Elizabeth House) at the University of Oxford. Their mission is to build knowledge and understanding of the causes and effects of forced migration in order to help improve the lives of some of the world’s most vulnerable people. They aim to lead the world in research and education in the area of refugee and forced migration studies and to share our work on a national and global scale. They seek to realise this vision by taking forward new and transformative approaches to research, teaching and engagement with society, informed by Oxford’s long traditions of independent scholarship and academic freedom. A world-class centre for the study of forced migration and refugees has been created at the University of Oxford. With its pioneering research and innovative education and training programmes, the Refugee Studies Centre has had a major constructive influence throughout the developed and developing world and has stimulated effective international networks. In the early 1980s Dr Barbara Harrell-Bond undertook research regarding one such challenge: how to improve the performance of humanitarian agencies in the field. During fieldwork in Algeria she realised the paucity of academic literature available on the subject, and on her return to Oxford she founded the Refugee Studies Centre (then known as the Refugee Studies Programme).

National Gallery of Canada, Global Voices 2012

Global Voices 2012 at National Gallery of Canada, 37 paintings, 23 videos and 18 artists of Central Asia, Africa, the Americas, Cree and Mohawk Nations.

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The Global Voices 2012 event at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa Canada featured 37 paintings, 23 videos and 18 artists of Central Asia, Africa, the Americas, Cree and Mohawk Nations, including musicians Eman the Warrior & the Abezamutima Burundian Traditional Dancers and paintings and videos by Sherry Tompalski and Graham Thompson respectively in December 2012.

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The Global Voices 2012 program featured:

  • Afghan Portraits and the Voices from Afghanistan video.
  • Native American Flute and World Beat composer David Finkle with Simon Handley (percussion, electronics) and  Andy W. Mason (percussion, guitar, vocals).
  • Iranian Portraits and a video of Iranian dancer Dr. Maria Modhaddam
  • The Abezamutima Burundian Traditional Dance Group
  • Residential School Portraits and the Irene Lindsay  video, Thomas Louttit video and Dr. Morgan Baillargeon (actor, costume designer and concept creator) in the Campfire, Tea and Bannock video
  • Eman the Warrior (Emmanuel Oletho) the Singer and Song Writer from Ethiopia
  • Central American Portraits and the Victor Fuentes and Tito Medina videos
  • Dr Lee’s West African Rhythms
  • Central American Portraits and the Delores of Guatemala video
  • African Portraits and Videos featuring the Hawa Kaba video and Hamid Ayoub vide

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Who Organized the Project?

The Global Voices 2012 Event was created and organized by Sherry Tompalski (painter) and Graham Thompson (videographer). The concept was based on the realization that many refugee artists and activists arrive in Canada with highly developed artistic skills and compelling personal stories of survival. As a result, the refugee’s work is uniquely suited to a multimedia presentation where audiences have the opportunity to see, to hear and to understand their personal accounts of, for example, walking across Chad, without food or money to escape the horrors of Darfur (Hamid Video).

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A Transcript of the Global Voices 2012 Event at the National Gallery of Canada

My name is Graham Thompson. I am a videographer. I am one of many artists you will see this evening. for 10 years we have created events involving art, dance, media and music, the projects have included over 100 separate artists. artists from Australia, Peru, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, the Philippines, Taiwan, Venezuela, Bolivia, Canada and the United States. This work has been shown in Taipei, Manila, Belgrade, Chicago, Melbourne, London, Vancouver and Toronto. we wanted to acknowledge the extreme challenges many people face in our complicated world and we wanted to have a focus on survival and renewal. IN ORDER TO CREATE THIS WORK we have been helped by a great many Embassies, NGOs, Universities, Museums, Government Departments and Arts Funding Agencies.

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Special thanks goes to: The Catholic Immigration Centre, The Canadian Red Cross, USC Canada, Ottawa Carleton Immigrant Services Organization, Odawa Friendship Centre, The Minwashin Lodge, Metis Nation of Ontario, The World University Service Canada, the University of Oxford in England, Carleton university, the University of Ottawa, York University, The United Nations, Library and Archives Canada, Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Canadian Trade office in Taipei, Canadian Embassy in Manila, The Canadian Embassy in Belgrade Serbia, Canadian Heritage, the Parliament of Canada, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, The Canadian Museum of Civilization, The International TV Festival Bar Montenegro, the Coalition of New Canadians for Arts and Culture, Canadian Centre for International Justice, The City of Ottawa, the Ontario Arts Council, Canada Council for the Arts, SAW Video, the SAW Gallery and Donna Cona Inc

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A Transcipt of the Event

TONIGHT WE OFFER DANCE, ART, MEDIA AND MUSIC. Representing Afghanistan, Sudan, Burundi, Ethiopia, Iran, El Salvador, Guatemala, and the Cree & Mohawk Nations of Canada.

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WE  SHALL BEGIN  IN AFGHANISTAN. with the portraits, as shown on the screen,  of a family of refugees from KABUL. the paintings were created in Sherry Tompalski’s studio there were cameras covering the evolution of the artwork, and any comments the models wished to make we didn’t ask any questions, we simply let the people speak, if they wanted to for example, we will play 5 short videos from the sittings some people from the project, have requested that we use ONLY there first names. BAHARA from KABUL describes: a party which took place in her home which was invaded by patrolling soldiers as there  was a BAN on MUSIC. HER  BROTHER Remembers the escape from his village during an attack  in the Afghan war. HER other BROTHER Recounts his experience at the National football stadium where the Taliban used to publicly execute women accused of adultery. FATIMA who insisted that she not be photographed is shown through the creation of her portrait. Her story of 30 years of War in Afghanistan  is translated by Bahara.

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WE Move to Iran, on the screen you can see portraits of the Iranian Scientist and Folk Dancer Dr. Maria Modhaddam our work with MARIA includes portraits, videos and dance performances. The work was first shown in the PARLIAMENT OF CANADA in 2009, The event included speeches by the Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism and Abraham ABRAHAM the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees  in Canada. later we worked together at the University of Ottawa, As part of the 2nd Annual Conference of the Canadian Association for Refugee and Forced Migration Studies. in the following video, which features dance footage from her own archive, Maria talks about the life of a REFUGEE.

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IN PART 4, we feature the ABEZAMUTIMA  Burundian Traditional Dance Group the dance troop is made of highly experienced Burundian folk and traditional dancers. Through its artistic endeavors, the group hopes to share its heritage with communities and promote cultural diversity in the National Capital Region. ABEZA = beautiful inside, MUTIMA = heart or soul. Has anyone been to BURUNDI? Has anyone visited AFRICA? Burundi is located on the equator in eastern Africa.

IN PART 5, We move to CREE NATIONS  in SASKATCHEWAN and ONTARIO on the screen we see portraits of 5 participants in a project involving people who attended residential schools. I am grateful for the help of the Odawa Friendship centre and the Minwashin Lodge in helping with this section of the project. The Indian residential schools of Canada were a network of “residential” or boarding schools for First Nations, Metis, and Inuit funded by the Canadian government’s Department of Indian Affairs, and adminstered by Christian churches, according to wikipedia – The system had origins in pre-Confederation times. The last residential school was not closed until 1996. We have selected 2 video clips that will play after the portraits where IRENE LINDSAY and THOMAS LOUTTIT describe their experiences BOTH activists attended residential school  for 8 years after Irene and Thomas, we have a short instructional video showing a metis fur trader creating a campfire and tea and bannock on a winter’s day.

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IN PART 6  We MOVE to ETHIOPIA. Specifically, to a singer song writer called EMAN his music promotes peace, love and inspiration. Emmanuel Oletho was a refugee for three years in Kenya Yet, he was granted a scholarship to study at Carleton University through the World University Service of Canada. He is graduating in 2013 with Bachelor of political science. EMAN WILL SING – SHINE A LIGHT

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IN PART 7, We move to CENTRAL AMERICA, these portraits are refugee artists from Guatemala and El Salvador, we have selected 2 video clips for tonight that will play after the portraits. VICTOR, whose music you hear in the second video was almost killed in El Salvador in a torture chamber. TITO, whose music you hear in a video,  was just a kid when his songs got him into trouble in his home country Guatemala. some of the portraits were created with mixed media using a collage of sheet music from an Ottawa orchestra, symbolizing the person reassembling themselves in a new setting, in Ottawa. Some of the portraits have exported video frames from their videos clips, which symbolize the person having to reinvent themselves in their new country.

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In PART 8, we return to AFRICA, to listen to DR LEE’S WEST AFRICAN RHYTHMS Dr Lee  studied in Guinea, West Africa with renowned drum master Aboubacar Camara. Dr Lee has collaborated with the Cirque du Soleil and The Soul Jazz Orchestra. 2 YEARS AGO, Dr Lee performed with us at the National Library and Archives of Canada. the installation featured 65 works of art, 25 artists, 23 videos, 19 speakers, 13 NGOs & 2 plays.

PART 9, we return to CENTRAL Amerca, these portraits are created with graphite on paper and  ink and graphite on paper. AND we have selected 2 video clips, that will play after the portraits of the participants. The following video is NOT SUITABLE for YOUNG AUDIENCES, as there are graphic descriptions of violence Ms D, whose name is withheld by request, provides a detailed account of the destruction of her family during a labour dispute. Her story includes graphic details of her kidnap and imprisonment.

IN PART 10,  We again feature singer song writer EMAN, He is a voice for the voiceless. EMAN is an advocate for the poor, the victims of genocide, HIV orphans, and humanitarian related issues. EMAN WILL SING –  I AM A WARRIOR

IN PART 11  We look at portraits and videos of artists  from Guinea and Sudan we have selected 2 video clips that will play after the portraits of the participants that are shown on the screen. HAMID describes his escape from Sudan through the deserts of CHAD he Escaped, on foot, and without food, water or money. He trekked across the desert day and night, through small villages avoiding the main highways, and the possibility of detection. He survived a violent car jacking episode on his way to Niger. HAWA, who is A Refugee Artist from Guinea, West Africa, also tells her story…. she was sent to jail, because she filled out an application for a passport. In order to leave the jail, she was forced to sign a confession, that said she was a counter-revolutionary. HAWA exhibited paintings at the 2010 library and archives event.

IN PART 12 WE FEATURE COMPOSER DAVID FINKLE AGAIN, along with Simon Handley on percussion and electronics, and  Andy W. Mason on percussion, guitar, and vocals we have worked together since 2008 when David performed with NORTHERN VOICES in a large installation of 20 video screens and 8 computers. The installation featured 100 short videos of 30 aboriginal artists.

IN PART 13 we return to the ABEZAMUTIMA  Dance Group, the ABEZAMUTIMA Burundian Traditional Dance Group have created a 2nd dance for us this evening. Then  ALL MUSICIANS ON STAGE, DANCERS join musicians on stage, ALL speakers and behind the scenes people on stage playing available percussion instruments play a final song and dance.

I want to thank everyone for all their help and support in the creation of this GLOBAL VOICES 2012 event, including Sherry Tompalski, Petra Hawkes, Richard and Darren the Technicians, the national Gallery of Canada, The Abezamutima Dancers, David Finkle, Simon Handley, Andy W. Mason, Dr Lee, EMAN, the camera work of CE SOIR FILMS. This marks the end of our 10th international event in 10 years, involving over 100 artists from Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas, tonight we have selected an overview of a project that contains over 50 portraits, and 5 hours of video. Thank you for coming tonight.

CBC Radio, All In A Day, Adrian Harewood

The Reassembled Self Series featured on Adrian Harewood’s All In A Day (CBC) prior to their 2007 exhibition at La Petite Mort Gallery Ottawa.

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Adrian Harewood of CBC Radio’s All In A Day interviewed Sherry Tompalski regarding the exhibition of her Reassembled Self Series at La Petite Mort Gallery on July 27, 2007.

What is the Reassembled Self Series About?

The Reassembled Self Series takes the common experience of change, the many feelings, the turmoil and the inspiration and visualizes it as a tearing up and reconstructing of the self.

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Tompalski’s Pseudo Obedience

This new series of works on paper features faces and figures reassembled from torn drawings, coloured paper and shredded musical scores using graphite, oil stick, conte and charcoal. The work visualizes various psychological themes from “Pseudo Obedience” to “The Fragmented Self.”

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Psychologically Informed Images

Inspired by our inner experience, I am trying to make psychologically informed images that stimulate a curiosity about the hidden motives and conflicting desires that live within all of us. The work is developed in an exploratory fashion involving painting and drawing which subsequently is torn-up and reassembled with a collage of mixed media elements in an effort to create a fresh view of the subject.

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Gallery Owner Guy Burube’s Tattooed Neck

The Experience of Impermanence

The work is trying to capture our fragility and resilience, and our experience of impermanence. Take for example Rumi’s poems – and the following is my favorite. “This being human is a guest house Every morning a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor. Welcome and entertain them all! The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in. Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.”

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Adrian Harewood Backgrounder

Adrian is co-host of CBC News Ottawa. Harewood attended elementary and high school at Ashbury College, and was involved in community radio at CKCU (Carleton University) and CHUO (University of Ottawa). He has been a guest host on national CBC programs such as As it Happens, Sounds Like Canada and The Current. Before coming to television, Harewood was the host of All In A Day on CBC Radio One in Ottawa.