The project


We are here Life Stories of Montrealers Displaced by War, Genocide, and other Human Rights Violations (Montreal Life Stories) is an oral history project that explored Montrealers experiences and memories of mass violence and displacement. Funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, this Community-University Research Alliance was based at Concordia Universitys Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling and led by Steven High, Canada Research Chair in Public History.

During five years (2007-2012), a team of both university and community researchers as well as 18 partner organizations recorded life story interviews with close to 500 Montreal residents who have been displaced by mass violence in almost every region of the world. The project hoped that the act of listening intently to how these survivors speak of their memories may help us understand what these experiences mean to them and how they can be retold.


Montreal Life Stories is

  • Hundreds of people including university and community researchers, artists, activists, students, interns and volunteers, working together to collect and make public the life stories of 500 Montrealers;
  • A research allliance structured around seven working groups directed by committees and coordinated in a decentralized and consensual way;
  • A space to develop an expertise in several areas: oral history, ethics, interviewing; new media, training, artistic creation, etc.;
  • Hundreds of audio or video interviews of one or several sessions, that are either open to the public, limited access, or anonymous - several of which have already been broadcasted publicly;
  • Short films, websites and blogs, theatre pieces and artistic performances, expositions, educational programs for students of all levels, conferences, publications and so much more!
Lisa Ndejuru

During all these years, what we have done is a bit like when one is in the dark and is afraid. To be less afraid, we can whistle or sing. We can also hold ones hand. And by doing so, there is less fear. This is what we have done with this project, holding hands, we explored the darker areas of human history. We searched for light.

Lisa Ndejuru, Montrealer of Rwandan origin,
co-researcher

Callixte Kabayiza

Montreal Life Stories uses oral history to track the experiences and memories of violence and displacement of Montrealers. They could be your neighbor or your colleague. These stories are now Quebec stories.

Callixte Kabayiza, Montrealer of Rwandan origin,
co-researcher

Henry Greenspan

A good interview is the process in which to people work hard to understand the views and experience of one person: the interviewee.

Henry Greenspan, collaborator