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Ottawa survivors mark 30 years since start of the Rwandan genocide

A silent march through downtown Ottawa on Sunday marked thirty years since the beginning of the Rwandan genocide that saw hundreds of thousands of people killed.

Sunday marked the commemoration of the 1994 genocide that saw roughly 800,000 Tutsis killed by Hutu extremists in a massacre that lasted 100 days.

For many in attendance, the genocide still feels like yesterday.

“You have wounds that never really close. You kind of move on because you have to live, but it’s still fresh,” said Pascal Kanyemera, president of the Humura Association, an organization of survivors who reside in Ottawa-Gatineau.

“I lost both my parents, my sisters and brothers, my uncles, my grandparents. An entire village wiped out,” said survivor, Denyse Umutoni.

While the country has come a long way, the scars of the past still haunt survivors like Umutoni, as many gathered on Parliament Hill before marching to the Shaw Centre in solidarity.

Umoti recalls the events that ignited the genocide, when a plane carrying President Juvénal Habyarimana, a member of the majority Hutu, was shot down in the capital Kigali.

“I remember my mom crying at the time, she was crying saying they are going to kill my children,” said Umutoni.

The younger generations are now carrying the torch of remembrance as they led the march and reflected on the past.

“You cannot even imagine, like, how can this happen? But then you remember that we have to keep the stories alive or history can repeat itself,” said Kelly Mwiza.

Marchers say it’s a painful reminder of yesterday’s tragedies that can be turned into the lessons of tomorrow.

“Nowadays we have a lot of hate online and people don’t know what to do about it. But it’s something that Canada has to learn from and see the consequences of hate against minorities,” said Kanyemera.

Sunday is just the start of commemoration with several more events to follow throughout the week.

With files from The Associated Press


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