A note from Steve High

Principal investigator of the Montreal Life Stories project

Steven High

Our project makes use of a humanistic approach. We let people define themselves. The Montreal Life Stories project demonstrates how important it is to go beyond studying communities to make them partners in the research

I welcome you to the We Are Here exhibition. It tells the story of the Montreal Life Stories project, an out of the ordinary University-Community research Alliance, which has recorded the personal stories of 500 Montrealers displaced by war, genocide and other human rights violations. To begin with, our team was made up of 40 investigators and 18 partner community organizations. Little by little, it brought together a total of more than 300 academic researchers, community members, students, artists and interns. Many of them are persons displaced by violence. Others are the children of persons displaced by violence. Almost all of them live here, in Montreal. The stories collected are our stories.

All of the members of the team participated in carrying out the interviews. They interviewed their parents and grandparents, members of their community or of other communities. Academic researchers interviewed community researchers and vice versa. The recorded stories were posted online through the creation of short digital stories. They were the subject of artistic installations and performances, which were also broadcast over the radio, through documentary or animated short films, through audioguided tours, teaching tools, and, of course, they were incorporated into exhibitions, in particular in this museum. We hope that sharing these life stories will catalyze critical thought and dialogue.

Montreal Life Stories was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and its Community-University Research Alliance program. This program is remarkable in that it involves the communities as partners in the research rather than simple study subjects. Come and listen...Really listen.