The Zoryan Institute's core concept is to serve the cause of scholarship, education, and public awareness relating to issues of universal human rights, genocide, and diaspora.
From Truth to Reconciliation:
Towards a Just Future for the Indigenous
Peoples of Canada
In March 2016, the Institute partnered with the McGill Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralisn to host a thought-provoking conference that examined the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and possible ways to implement its findings. Through the TRC, Canada had the courage and fortitude to acknowledge the wrongs of the past, apologize for its actions and find atonement manifested in the TRC's recommendations.
The conference approached its subject from a legal, political, cultural and social perspective to understand how the TRC came to its finding of "cultural genocide." The loss of land and forced assimilation that Indigenous peoples of Canada faced is comparable to the atrocities the Ottoman Empire committed towards the Armenians. Canada, through its TRC, has set a model for reconciliation that other countries, such as the Republic of Turkey, could adopt.
The keynote speakers of the 2-day conference included Douglas White, Director of the Centre for Pre-Confederation Treaties and Reconciliation, and Phil Fontaine, former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations. They, along with other specialists, helped empower the attendees with facts, references, analysis and perspectives in understanding the significance of the TRC's declaration. We at the Zoryan Institute believe that the path to reconciliation requires education and dialogue, so that the Canadian public can understand its responsibility for the past and help build a just future for Indigenous Peoples. The publication of the conference proceedings in 2017 will help reach all those who were not able to attend the event in Montreal.
German Bundestag Votes to Recognize Armenian
Massacres as "Genocide"
In early June 2016, the German Parliament overwhelmingly adopted a symbolic but fraught resolution declaring the killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in 1915 a genocide. Germany's recognition of its complicity in the Armenian Genocide, and decision to implement this curriculum in schools, illustrates their atonement for their role in this crime. These actions have assured the international community that the German government of today is a responsible and credible one, worthy of being praised for putting humanity and human life and values ahead of political expediency.
The nearly-unanimous decision was based on the overwhelming evidence and pivotal archival documentation gathered by German scholar Wolfgang Gust and human rights lawyer Ingrid Gust. Through their tireless efforts, Wolfgang and Ingrid Gust painstakingly collected and published documents from the German Foreign Office Archive. With the support of the Zoryan Institute over many years, the Gusts collected, restored, analyzed, translated and published these historical archives. The Institute's staff also assisted with translation, editing and publishing of the book in German (2005), Turkish (2012) and English (2014). These documents are of paramount importance in understanding the Armenian Genocide, since only German officials had the ability to travel to the areas of the deportations and massacres and send official, uncensored, and highly candid reports of the ongoing devastation.
Genocide and Human Rights
Imagine what can happen when 25 students, from all over the world, come together for 2 weeks to learn about comparative Genocide and Human Rights Studies. Think about the interactions between Armenians and Turks, Hutus and Tutsis, Muslims and Christians, all co-habiting and learning from some of the most renowned scholars in the field together under the same roof.
In its 15 years of operation, over 400 students have graduated from the Institute's Genocide and Human Rights University Program with a deep, shared understanding of cases of genocide and human rights abuses. This newfound knowledge has the possibility of countering generations of hostility between nations, ethnicities and religions, and fostering mutual understanding and dialogue. Organized annually in partnership with the University of Toronto, the GHRUP plays an important role in filling a gap in the traditional university curriculum.
Professor William A. Schabas, a renowned International Lawyer at Middlesex University in London, England and a longtime faculty member of the GHRUP, sees the immense value in the program: "I love coming for the program and if it means having to flying in one day and fly out that night I'll do it," said Schabas. "This is a very special course. I do a lot of teaching on summer courses that are there for university students and others who want to learn about specialized areas in human rights, but this is quite a unique course on genocide and it's interdisciplinary. I think it makes a huge contribution. Education in this area is important…and I wish they had such a thing when I was a student. I never had such an opportunity."
By studying the genocidal trauma of many different groups of peoples, the GHRUP strives to show that genocide is a shared human experience and as such, must be the concern of all individuals and institutions.
the ZI e-Chronicles
The ZI e-Chronicles is Zoryan Institute's media platform for educational digital clips, featuring an array of topics discussed by leading experts in the fields of genocide, human rights and diaspora studies.
Ranging from explorations of the contemporary phenomena of genocide to the ramifications of genocide denial to analyses of April 24th, 1915, the videos aim to provide new, innovative learning tools by making the research of preeminent scholars, thinkers and writers accessible to the widest possible audience. To view our full collection of ZI e-Chronicles, please visit our YouTube Channel.
The Diaspora Journal is dedicated to the multidisciplinary study of the history, culture, social structure, politics, and economics of both the traditional diasporas – Armenian, Greek, and Jewish – and the new transnational dispersions which in the past four decades have come to be identified as 'diasporas.' These encompass groups ranging from the African-, Chinese-, Indian-, and Mexican-American to the Ukrainian- and Haitian-Canadian, the Caribbean-British, the Antillean-French, and many others.
As we approach 2017, the Diaspora Journal will enter its 26th year of publication. This year, we are pleased to announce the publication of the Fall 2016, Volume 19(1) of Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies. This Special Issue of the Journal focuses on the role of religion and belonging in diaspora communities. Some communities covered in this issue include Nigerian Pentecostal, global Catholicism, Venice's Maritime State, Ghanaian Pentecostal, and Britain's Nepali Diaspora. In 2016, Dr. Simon Payaslian, Chairing the Diaspora Management Committee, welcomed Dr. Talar Chahinian and Dr. Vahe Sahakyan to the Diaspora team as Co-Editors. They will be working alongside renowned Professor Khachig Tololyan of Weslyan University, who is a co-founder and the first editor of the journal, since its inception in 1991. Dr. Chahinian is a Professor of Comparative Literature and Classics at California State University, and Dr. Sahakyan, a Professor of Near Eastern Studies at the University of Michigan. Dr. Chahinian and Dr. Sahakyan have been part of the Zoryan family as they are both alumni of the Genocide and Human Rights University Program.
Genocide Studies International (GSI) is a peer-reviewed journal devoted to innovative research, analysis and information on all aspects of the phenomenon of genocide. Among its objectives is to serve as a critical forum for analyzing governmental and supra-governmental efforts in the prevention of genocide.
In addition to its talented and experienced team of co-editors—Maureen Hiebert, Herbert Hirsch, Roger W. Smith, and Henry Theriault—this year, GSI welcomed Professor Hazel Cameron and Elisa von Joeden-Forgey as Co-Editors. Professor Cameron is a lecturer within the School of International Relations at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland. In addition to teaching, Professor Cameron is affiliated to the International State Crime Initiative (ISCI), a community of scholars working to advance current understandings of state crime. Professor Joeden-Forgey is also a member of the IIGHRS' Board of Directors and is a faculty member of the Institute's Genocide and Human Rights University Program (GHRUP). She is currently an Associate Professor and Director of the Master of Arts in Holocaust and Genocide Studies (MAHG) Program at Stockton University. She is also the Dr. Marsha Raticoff Grossman Professor of Holocaust Studies at Stockton and First VP of the IAGS. The Institute is proud to welcome such highly-respected scholars in the field of genocide prevention and human rights.
Syrian-Armenian Refugees Oral History Project
The current conflict in Syria has caused one of the largest refugee exoduses in recent history. Since the first wave of refugees arrived in December 2015, Canada has welcomed over 33,000 Syrian refugees, and thousands of these newcomers are of Armenian descent. After months of careful preparation, the Zoryan Institute launched its Syrian-Armenian Refugee Oral History Project, conducting its first interview on November 7, 2016. With this project, the Institute seeks to interview Syrian-Armenian newcomers and document their lifestyle in Syria prior to the war, their migration, and their experience of settling in Canada. The Institute's main objective with this program is to capture what life was like prior to the outbreak of war and document culture, traditions and history.
In addition, the project will seek to understand the effectiveness of refugee integration programs in Canada and to document first-hand accounts to serve as a tool for analyzing sociological, anthropological and historical patterns and trends prior to, during and after migration due to conflict. Syria has often served as a refuge for Armenians who fled from atrocities and persecutions, such as the Armenian Genocide. Armenian communities of Syria have integrated their Armenian identity into their everyday lives as evidenced by their cultural, religious, social and political organizations.
A successful project of the same nature was conducted by the Zoryan Institute beginning in 1983 titled, "The Armenian Genocide Oral History Project." This project comprises a collection of audio and video tapes containing carefully prepared oral history interviews with over 800 survivors of the Armenian Genocide, making it the largest collection on video to date. These archival materials are located at the Institute's office in Toronto, Canada and are frequently accessed by scholars, students, film-makers and other interested parties. A complete catalogue of this collection is available on the Zoryan Institute website.
Alongside the 2016 highlights, the Zoryan Institute continues to:
• Publish books and periodicals containing original research on Diaspora, Genocide and Homeland;
• Maintain and develop its archival collections;
• Organize conferences, public events and educational programs;
• Combat genocide denial through scholarship;
• Assist researchers, students and filmmakers.
The breadth, depth and reach of its achievements make the Zoryan Institute unique. It strives to address vital contemporary issues affecting not only Armenians, but all peoples in this increasingly small, interconnected world. We believe that an awareness of shared history is the only way to make dialogue and reconciliation possible. Especially in the case of Turkish-Armenian relations, history has to be analyzed from a variety of perspectives: sociological, political, legal, and psychological among others, shared and communicated through educational programs.
The Institute's ongoing work requires community involvement, as well as a long-term commitment of scholars and specialists, with significant human and financial capital. We ask for your support as we enter into our 35th year of operation to continue to fulfill our mission.