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Our Voices Return



This Friday 13th November, the Colombian Truth Commission will do a formal act to acknowledge the suffering of more than half a million Colombians who have been forced into exile in the last six decades. The title of this three and a half hours-long online event is El Retorno de Nuestras Voces, which we translate as Our Voices Return. According to Statistics Canada, more than 31,000 Colombians have been granted refugee status in Canada between 1980 and 2016. Until 2014, Colombia was the source country number one in terms of immigration to both Quebec and Canada. The act will be a multi-media online even, with some in-person and many online presentations that will bring together victims, organizations, and authorities from more than 25 countries. (see attached poster for more details).

COHDS' Acts of Listening Lab (ALLab) has become a key hub for the collection of statements and other activities contributing to the transitional justice process in Colombia. Under the coordination and leadership of Professor Luis C. Sotelo Castro, Canada Research in Oral History Performance, a working group called Quebec Working Group was created in 2019. The Quebec Working Group (Nodo Quebec) is an interdisciplinary group of volunteers that provides support to the Truth Commission in the collection of testimonies from individuals affected by the Colombian armed conflict exiled in the province of Quebec. The group is part of a network that offers the same services in Ontario, British Columbia and various countries on different continents.

To build a sense of community and create affective spaces to support the victims who contribute their statements, Professor Sotelo Castro created in collaboration with singer Pilar Jimenez a community choir called The Listening Choir. Their songs are a response to some of the statements that the working group collects. See for instance: https://vimeo.com/430587119  This and one more video are part of the programming for tomorrow's Our Voices Returnevent.

The Colombian Truth Commission is one of a trio of institutions established under the terms of the peace accords that thegovernment of President Juan Manuel Santos (in office 2010-2018) reached with the rebel group Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC) in 2016. The overall aim of these institutions has been to provide redress to victims and document crimes committed during a five decade's old war.  

Note: The image states the event's time in Canada is 11h00AM, that is a mistake, the correct time is 10h00AM


Concordia University