What is CryPeace?

CryPeace is my dream to use digital storytelling and media to build empathy and peace.

It started with CryRwanda, a digital tribute to the victims of the Tutsi genocide, and an exploration of forgiveness and reconciliation. While CryRwanda was warmly received by individuals and key partners in Rwanda, funding challenges limited CryRwanda to a humble website, plus the honour of having my video poem, "Cry," screened at a genocide memorial event in Rwanda.

CryPeace is the evolution of CryRwanda into a project to share stories and wisdom about peace from around the world. Recently, I've been asking people what peace means to them, and whether they are experiencing it in their current situations. I'll be sharing insightful responses from indigenous people in Panama, and bikers from Ontario, on crypeace.org soon.

Next, I want to take my camera and technical expertise to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories to support grassroots peacebuilders, then back to Uganda where I've been working with an amazing peace leadership institute for 6 years, Isis-WICCE.

The beginning: CryRwanda
In 1994, I watched the events of the Tutsi genocide in Rwanda unfold from my living room in Toronto, Canada. I felt distant from the crisis, insulated, safe, and powerless. At the same time, I was in anguish that people could kill other people, especially those whom they previously called friend. Within one hundred days, 800,000 lives were lost. It seems to me that they were a preventable loss, if the world truly valued those lives.

In 1994, my reactions to the genocide were personal. It triggered a time of deep inner reflection, spiritual crisis, and sorrow for the victims. Although I did not know anyone personally involved in the crisis, my empathy felt personal because I was mourning the untimely death of my own dear friend in Africa.

Presently, I feel a desire to share my own reflections on suffering and peace with others. This act feels so small, but if we do not do the small things that we feel that we should, I believe we lose something of ourselves. More importantly, I wish to offer this space for others to share their own stories, reflections, suffering and dreams. At the least, I hope the sharers will find relief through expressing their own experiences. I also believe that hearing others' stories can deepen our understanding of others, acknowledge the nightmares some have lived, and offer tribute to the victims of violence. Perhaps we can even dream out loud in community about healing, peace, and a more loving future for individuals, and the world.

The future: Your Story
This website is the first small offering in what I hope grows to become a community endeavour. As its seed was the Tutsi genocide, I especially want to invite those who were directly affected by this tragedy to share their own stories. But all of us in the global human family have stories and wisdom to share. I welcome everyone to share their stories, thoughts, and ideas about suffering, reconciliation, justice and forgiveness here.

I feel very humble exposing such a small seed to the world, but if you will plant another seed by sharing your own story, or water others' seeds through your comments, or share an example of peacefulness with us, perhaps a garden will grow.

In peace,
Carole St. Laurent