Romeo Dallaire at the University

Kamloops - Monday, October 18, 2004 by: Michael Townsend

I was at the university for a talk by Gen. Romeo Dallaire Thursday night. It was truly an amazing experience. This man of course was the Canadian General responsible for the UN presence in Rwanda during the genocide, which the world tried to ignore. He had powerful statements about what happened which I can't go into here. (He wrote a book, which I bought last winter "Shake Hands With The Devil" which I got him to autograph last night, in which he chronicles the horrific events he witnessed and was hamstrung to prevent.) But for me what was truly heartening was the fact that he came bearing solutions and what we can do in the future. Unlike politicians he was unafraid to express radical new ideas and condemn old methodologies. He sees Canada and other middle power countries as having a very significant role in the future, not as a balance of power to the super powers but in a leadership role in enfranchising the 80% of humanity that has been marginalized in our so called ‘Global Community’. And as a General, his personality is perfect. He had an audience last night, (and he spoke in the Thompson Rivers University (The Newest University in BC) Gym and it was packed) which would have followed him anywhere.

Dallaire talked about a very vital new NGO. You may have heard about Doctor's Without Borders, 'Medcin Sans Fontieres', (bad French I know). Well there is a new one called 'Noses Without Borders.' Now this may sound like a joke and it got quite a laugh when he first brought it up. But in actual fact this is its mandate. Noses Without Borders' mission is to teach child soldiers, of whom Dallaire had much contact; to laugh, many for the first time.

If Gen. Dallaire should be speaking in a venue close to you, I highly recommend taking it in. His book, while for me has been a difficult read on many levels, is also well worth the effort.


Mike Townsend



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