May 26, 2023Print | PDF
The Balsillie School of International Affairs will launch its new series, “Migration Storytelling,” on May 30 with the screening of a documentary film by Kitchener-based director and producer Angela Onuora at the CIGI Auditorium in Waterloo.
Onuora’s Operation Lights Out: The Story of CANAIRELIEF explains how unacknowledged Canadians in 1969 played a key role to save more than one million lives during the “Biafran War,” also known as the Nigerian Civil War, which took place from 1967 to 1970. The effort forever linked Nigeria and Canada in history.
“With recent crises across the globe, from Cameroon to Ethiopia, Sudan, Syria and Ukraine, the film serves as a powerful reminder of the costs of war, the devastation wrought by forced migrations of huge numbers of people, the importance of concerted humanitarian efforts, and the resilience of the human spirit,” says Onuora, who moved to Canada from Nigeria in 2014.
An official selection at seven film festivals, Operation Lights Out: The Story of CANAIRELIEF was named winner of the best documentary award at the Toronto International Nollywood Film Festival and the Lake International PanAfrican Film Festival; honoured with a special recognition award at the Silicon Valley African Film Festival; and received the special recognition award from the U.S. House of Representatives.
Presented in collaboration with Laurier’s International Migration Research Centre and English and Film Studies department, the showing of the 90-minute film on May 30 will be followed by a moderated conversation with Onuora. The event will be opened by Laurier’s Head of Film Studies and English, Russell Kilbourn.
The Balsillie School’s Migration Storytelling series will showcase international filmmakers, authors and musicians explaining the journeys that made an impact on their lives, as well as the lives of Canadians.
“The whole idea behind the series was first to help further internationalize and innovate the student experience here at the Balsillie School and secondly to recognize that storytelling is a powerful way of learning,” says Balsillie School director Ann Fitz-Gerald. “Many leaders from the arts world have a powerful migration story that inspired them to do what they have done which sheds light on important aspects of international affairs. And those stories often provide a real account of what they have endured in their home countries, the regions surrounding those countries and their journeys to places like Canada.”
Fitz-Gerald says the stories shared as part of the Migration Storytelling series will not only be of interest to political science and global affairs students, but also to the wider student community and public.
“It’s important that we go beyond textbooks, beyond journal articles and make important connections with people,” says Fitz-Gerald. “Canada enjoys an amazing level of diversity in its society. It's important for leading schools of international affairs like the Balsillie School to provide a platform and invite those leading artistic leaders, and the diaspora communities they are part of, to Waterloo.”
Operation Lights Out: The Story of CANAIRELIEF will be shown at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 30 at the CIGI Auditorium, 67 Erb St. W. in Waterloo. Admission is free, but attendees are asked to reserve a seat. More information about the film is available online.