Highlights of the Governor General’s Visit to the Republic of Rwanda

April 8, 2019   

KIGALI—Today, Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada, completed her visit to Rwanda for the 25th commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi.

Her Excellency participated in various events, including the official ceremony marking the commemoration to honour the memory of the victims of the genocide, to convey respect for the survivors and other citizens who have dedicated their lives to the reconstruction and reconciliation of their country, and to acknowledge the commitment of Rwandans to build a peaceful, prosperous and inclusive nation.

In addition, the visit provided an opportunity to strengthen the long-standing partnership between Canada and Rwanda, notably through the Governor General’s meeting with Rwandan President Paul Kagame, during which they discussed shared values and priorities.

The Canadian delegation accompanying the Governor General included parliamentarians
Mr. Bob Bratina, Mrs. Brenda Shanahan and Mr. David Christopherson, as well as other prominent Canadians.

Here are some of the highlights of the visit:

PREVENTING GENOCIDE AND MASS ATROCITIES

The 25th commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi provided Canada with an opportunity to renew its commitment to fighting genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, and to demonstrate our support for the reconciliation process.

Upon arrival in Rwanda, the Governor General and the Canadian delegation paid their respects at the final resting place of more than 250 000 victims of the Genocide by laying a wreath at the Kigali Genocide Memorial.

On the official day of the commemoration, the Governor General laid a wreath at the Kigali Genocide Memorial and witnessed the lighting of the Flame of Remembrance by President Kagame. Later, the Governor General and the Canadian delegates attended the Kwibuka25 Official Ceremony, which included remarks by officials, testimonies and musical performances. Afterwards, Her Excellency and the Canadian delegation took part in the Walk of Remembrance and a night vigil, both of which allowed for reflection on these horrific crimes so that they are neither forgotten nor repeated.

The visit was enhanced by the involvement of Canadian delegates with first-hand experience in Rwanda. Mr. Éloge C. Butera, Senior Policy Advisor to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness for Canada and Honorary Witness to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, is a survivor of the Rwanda Genocide. As a regular lecturer across Canada on transitional justice, reconciliation, personal resilience following trauma, Mr. Butera demonstrated how informed and engaged citizens can play a role in preventing mass atrocities and building peace. In addition, Dr. Shelly Whitman, Executive Director of the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative, has a long history of working collaboratively in Rwanda to deliver security sector training. Dr. Whitman has taken part in numerous high-level meetings with Rwandan officials who remain dedicated to preventing children from being recruited and used in conflict.

INCLUSION OF YOUTH

The Government of Rwanda’s commitment to youth empowerment converges with Canada’s own values. The Governor General and the Canadian delegation joined youth participating in an initiative run by Right To Play (RTP), a Canadian NGO that works to protect, educate and empower children to rise above adversity using all forms of play.

Delegates working in the fields of education and youth inclusion contributed to this aspect of the visit. Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray, President and Vice-Chancellor of Saint Mary’s University and Board Chair of the Canadian Bureau of International Education helped to promote the importance of education. In addition, the youngest member of the Canadian delegation, 23‑year‑old Sandrine Murengerantwali inspired youth through her personal experiences as a classical pianist originally from Rwanda, and as the founder of Vivo Cuore, which helps Rwandan children with congenital heart diseases.

PROMOTION OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Advancing shared values and priorities related to science and technology was an equally important dimension of the visit. The Governor General and the Canadian delegation visited the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS). There, the Governor General and Canadian delegate Professor Neil Turok, Director Emeritus of Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics and founder of AIMS, participated in a Q&A session with students on the importance of education and science.

The presence of Canadian delegate Jean Lebel, President of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) helped to highlight the fact that Canada recognizes the transformative role that science and technology can play in alleviating poverty, advancing human rights, accelerating economic growth and improving the lives of people in developing countries.

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The detailed itinerary, list of Canadian delegates, photos and videos of the
Governor General’s visit to Rwanda can be found online at www.gg.ca
and by following GGJuliePayette on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Media information:

Julie Rocheleau
Rideau Hall Press Office
613-998-0287
613-302-0249 (cell)
julie.rocheleau@gg.ca

Follow GGJuliePayette and RideauHall on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.