Mapping Memories: Experiences of Refugee Youth

Summary of organization/program

Mapping Memories is the initiative of artists, educators, film makers, policy makers, students and youth from Concordia University and the Montreal Community. 

Contact information


 Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling, LB-1042, History Department, 1400 de Maisonneuve Ouest, Montreal, Quebec

 Telephone: 514-848-2424 x7920

Geographic region

local, national, international 



History/Background Information

The Community-University Research alliance is a team of 39 university researchers and community co-applicants as well as 16 community partners who are collaborating on a major research project with funding from the government of Canada. Life Stories of Montrealers Displaced by War, Genocide, and other Human Rights Abuses uses the methodology of oral history to explore survivors’ experiences and memories of trauma, displacement, and integration into new communities. By conducting life story interviews with 1000 residents of Montreal, the project will examine how horrific events in other parts of the world – Cambodia, Rwanda, Haiti, Colombia and elsewhere – have shaped the lives of individuals and refugee communities in Montreal. Oral history, we believe, has a pivotal role to play in educating ourselves and our communities about the social preconditions, experiences and long-term repercussions of crimes against humanity.

The “Life Stories” proposal has been developed by a team of 37 participants in the Montreal-area, including 15 community partners representing the city’s diverse immigrant communities as well as a range of heritage, human rights, and education agencies. While the researchers come from a variety of disciplines, the lead academic partner will be the Department of History at Concordia. Seven members of the department are involved in the project, including the applicant. The Department has an international reputation for the study of genocide and human rights and is emerging as a national leader in oral history and digital storytelling. Central to Concordia’s position in the field is the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (MIGS).

Mapping Memories, Imaging a Future is a three-year collaborative multi-media research-creation program with refugee youth that will explore how innovative new media techniques can be used to create art work and empower youth in the process. With funding from the Canadian government, the objective of the program is both to deepen understanding about the under represented experiences of refugee youth and to further knowledge about artistic collaboration and new media such as DIY cartography, video blogging etc. Liz Miller is the principal investigator on the project and for last fifteen years, Miller has developed documentary and community media projects with youth, senior citizens and a wide range of human rights organizations.

Established: 2007

Dominant Media Forms

video production


music production


Our objective has been to produce creative work that will have an impact on policy, education, art and and on the lives of the youth involved. 

Statement of Principles


We train and involve youth participants in digital storytelling, video, soundscapes and mapping and our work has been disseminated at festivals, conferences, community meetings, via radio podcasts, and is now being integrated into school curriculums.

Samples of work

Funding Sources