Armenian Genocide Commemoration Week at York starting today

A screening of Canadian director Atom Egoyan’s award-winning film Ararat and a conference, After-effects of the Armenian Genocide, are just two of the events planned for Armenian Genocide Commemoration Week at York starting today and running until Thursday.

The week’s events, organized by the Armenian Students’ Association @ York, are to remember the victims of the past century’s genocides.

Ararat, a film within a film with a contemporary look at two estranged families and a re-enactment by a famous film director of the siege of Van, considered part of the Armenian genocide, will be screened today at 7pm in the Nat Taylor Cinema, N102 Ross Building, Keele campus. Admission is free.

After-effects of the Armenian Genocide, exploring some of the lesser-studied aspects of the aftermath of the genocide, will run Thursday, April 23 starting at 6pm in Lecture Hall D, Vari Hall, Keele campus.

Armenian and immigration history Professor Emerita Isabel Kaprielian-Churchill of California State University, Fresno, will discuss “The Armenian Genocide and Armenian Immigration to Canada”. A social historian, her research is on immigration and ethnic history with an emphasis on refugee survival and settlement, and on family and social networks of immigrants in Canada. Kaprielian-Churchill will look at the condition of Armenian survivors of the genocide in countries of first asylum. After the First World War, many Armenian refugees from the Ottoman Empire came to Canada.

She will also examine policy, regulations and implementation of the Canadian immigration program with respect to the entry of Armenian refugees and discuss the impact the Canadian immigration program had on the small Armenian community in Canada that had already been established before 1914.

Kaprielian-Churchill is the author of the award-winning book Like Our Mountains: a History of Armenians in Canada (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2005), and is the producer of three documentary videos about Armenian survivors entering Canada during the 1920s.

A writer as well as a professor of comparative literature at the Royal Military College of Canada, Lorne Shirinian will then look at “The Effects of the Genocide on Armenian North American Poetry”.

“The effects of the genocide have indelibly marked modern Armenian literature in the diaspora and continue to do so,” says Shirinian, who will present a personal narrative of his experience as an Armenian diaspora writer. In addition, he will analyze Armenian poetry that has genocide as one of its essential markers and will go through a series of poems to show the various themes that are prevalent in this literature.

Shirinian is the author of 20 books of poetry, fiction, drama and scholarly studies. His fiction includes Love Hemorrhage (Blue Heron Press, 2007) and When Darkness Falls Upon Us (Blue Heron Press, 2005). He is also the author of the collection of essays The Landscape of Memory: Perspectives on the Armenian Diaspora (Blue Heron Press, 2004). His new play, Monumental, recently premiered as a table reading at the Curating Difficult Knowledge conference at Concordia University.

The Charles K. and Elisabeth M. Kenosian Professor in Modern Armenian History and Literature at Boston University, Simon Payaslian will talk about “The Politics of Genocide Recognition in the United States” where there has been intense political activity over the years to have the Armenian genocide officially recognized.

He will discuss the background of American policy regarding the Armenian genocide and current efforts for its affirmation as well as draw relevant parallels. He will look at arguments for and against official recognition, aspects of political lobbying, geopolitical considerations and the nature of national interest.

Payaslian is the author of United States Policy Toward the Armenian Question and the Armenian Genocide (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005) and The History of Armenia (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007).

The week is sponsored by the Armenian Students’ Association @ York, the Zoryan Institute of Canada Inc. and the Armen Karo Student Association, with the support of the Armenian Students’ Associations of McMaster University, Ryerson University, the University of Toronto and the University of Waterloo.

For more information about the week’s events, including an event listing, visit the Armenian Students’ Association @ York Web site.