Citizens
Portraits of Canadian Women of African Descent
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Radegonde Ndejuru
Extrait sonore

Union and Reunion
UNION AND REUNION

"My wedding day. a joyous event. I like my dress. it reflects my Rwandan identity. I never dreamed of wearing a long white gown with a train. That day was also a reunion. I was a refugee to Canada; it was the first time I saw my mother after being apart for seven years."


Radegonde and Pierre
RADEGONDE AND PIERRE

"No makeup at my wedding. all natural! We were returning from Guinea-Bissau."

Radegonde Ndejuru

I did not choose to leave Rwanda. I left because they drove me away.

When you arrive as an immigrant, you are alone, alone, alone ...

Remarks recorded during an interview.


Born in Rwanda, Radegonde Ndejuru lived there until the age of 21. The country's gaining its independence, the end of Belgian colonial power and the taking of political power by the majority Hutu were accompanied by violent political and social turbulence. "The history of Rwanda is strewn with wars, people fleeing, tragedies and injustices." In 1963, when she was 11, her father was murdered during one of the waves of violence that shook the country. Ten years later, Radegonde herself was forced into exile. In 1973, she arrived in Canada alone, her family scattered throughout Europe and her mother remaining in Rwanda.

Our Joy

OUR JOY

She worked in Montreal as a nurse, but she missed Africa. She received her Canadian citizenship in 1978, and immediately left to work in Guinea-Bissau and then in Côte d'Ivoire, as a volunteer with the Quebec non-governmental organizations SUCO (Solidarité Union Coopération) and CECI (Centre canadien d'étude et coopération internationale). "There is the contact with the people, which is fantastic. I didn't have the impression of working, but of living and learning the whole time. This is what made these experiences unforgettable." These different stays on the continent reinforced her African identity. "I was just getting my African identity, more African than Rwandan," she says.

In 1988, as soon as she returned to Quebec, she took part with other women of African origin in creating the organization Solidarité Femmes Africaines, which has as its goal to improve the life conditions of women immigrants from Africa, to give another image of African women and to ease their integration into the host society, all the while promoting their African culture.

Through these life experiences and successive migrations, Radegonde has been able to combine fidelity to her culture of origin and roots with adherence to the positive aspects of her host society: on the one hand, the solidarity and strength of the group and the community, so important in traditional African society, and on the other, the individual freedom that is at the heart of interpersonal relationships in Western countries. It is this synthesis of African and Canadian influences that she has tried to instil in her children, and it is these values that have allowed her to orient her life according to her own vision, without being a prisoner of the social constraints that are so strong in African society, but preserving the solidarity and mutual aid of the group as the engine of change and social progress.



Nicolas, Raphaėl and Patrick
NICOLAS, RAPHAËL AND PATRICK

Sharing My Other Identity
SHARING MY OTHER IDENTITY

My Collection of Combs
MY COLLECTION OF COMBS

The Igisabo
THE IGISABO

The Kalao
THE KALAO

A Multicoloured Nativity
A MULTICOLOURED NATIVITY