After leaving his son behind and being kicked out of the US, Carlos hopes that Montreal is the last stop on his journey to be able to live as a free gay man.
Après avoir laissé son fils...
Having previously volunteered with the Mapping Memories Project, I had an idea of the issues and stories that I would hear on the bus tour. Despite my expectations of a short bus ride with brief narrations, the actual experience was greater than anything I had anticipated. I think part of what made the bus tour so amazing was the small intimate space and the openness of those who were sharing their stories. The background noise from the sound boxes, which played alongside the narrations and the movement of the bus, made the listeners feel as though they were taking part in a journey back through time. Hearing these sounds and seeing the described locations gave listeners a shared sense of the experiences and the emotions that the guides felt on their journey of integration into Canada.
My favorite part of the bus tour was when we made a stop at the Old Port to throw rose petals off the side of the boardwalk. Before the stop was made we were told that every year a walk is held in memory of all who died in the Rwandan Genocide. Flower petals are thrown into the water, which are symbolic of all the bodies that were found floating in the river. Everyone on the bus was then asked to take petals to throw in memory of their loved ones who had died.
Being a first generation Canadian, I don’t know many people in my family, as most of them have remained in India. Therefore I only took two rose petals, one for my cousin and one for my grandmother, who I had never had the chance to meet. When I saw one of the guides, Leotine Uwababyeyi, a survivor from the Rwandan Genocide, whose story brought total silence over the bus, take a handful of petals, it really struck me to know that every petal in her hand accounted for someone she had lost. Remembering the hurt and loss my family and I had felt for just my cousin, I could not imagine the pain and loss Leotine must have experienced after loosing most, if not all, of her friends and family.
This bus tour was a really beautiful experience for me because when each person shared their story, I really felt a strong connection to each of them. Their stories were not based on black and white, shallow Hollywood films, but rather on their real life experiences, where they really struggled to get by and in some cases to survive. I also felt that through sharing their stories I was able to witnesses the unsurpassable strength that each of these individuals showed during all the difficulties, struggles, hardships and challenges they faced in their lives. When I left the bus tour, I remember feeling so privileged, because I knew I had been a part of something very rare and very special; I had witnessed the sharing of stories, feelings and emotions, in such a raw, open and spontaneous manner.
- Cynthia D’Cruz