“There are many things that can only be seen through eyes that have cried”
-Archbishop Oscar Romero (1917-1980)
UWinnipeg’s Oral History Centre strives to be a national leader and global innovator in developing excellence in oral history teaching, research, and collaborative community development. The Centre promotes oral history as a means of democratizing history and working towards social justice and human rights in a globalizing world.
Projects like the Salvadoran Voices of Manitoba look into lasting legacies and memories of home, violence, and integration across several generations. Our goal is to better understand how these stories are talked about within families and how they are transferred from generation to generation, the role this plays in the integration into Canadian society, and how society responds to refugees.
As a part of a large-scale project on the history of refugees in Winnipeg from 1945 to 2010, we conducted approximately 40 interviews with Salvadorans who had immigrated to Manitoba during the 1980s and 1990s, fleeing from the civil war in this Central American country that lasted from 1980 to 1992. All of the interviews that were conducted in English have been transcribed and are ready to be archived. Most interviews, however, were conducted in Spanish and we need Spanish-English translators to transcribe the Spanish transcripts, translate them into English, and create a number of other documents that allow us to include these oral histories in the Oral History Centre’s Digital Oral History Archives. The projected cost of this portion of the project is approximately $38,000 if we were to hire out the entire project.
However, in the spirit of collaboration, UWinnipeg’s Department of Modern Languages and Literatures has adapted a translation course that will not only provide students with hands-on translating experience, but also help the Oral History Centre complete the translation aspect of this important project at a much more affordable cost.
Monica Ruiz, a Certified Translator and Faculty member of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures at UWinnipeg, will teach this new Spanish-English translation course. Ruiz says, ‘The adaptation of this course will create a win-win-win situation in which class participants will have new opportunities to hone their Spanish language skills and the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures will be able to expand its Spanish language programming. In doing so, we also hope to significantly reduce the costs related to the work the Oral History Centre is undertaking. I came to Canada as a refugee in 1975 and can relate to the importance of this research. We are currently welcoming a major influx of refugees and it is crucial that we learn from our past, so we can create an environment that not only benefits these newly landed families, but also the communities in which they will be living.”
One only needs to look at the ongoing global refugee crisis to understand the importance and necessity of this research. With so many individuals and families currently fleeing their homelands in search of safe havens from violence and the dangers that have been threatening their well-being, their culture, and their very existence, we need to take action now by learning from our past so we can gain a better understanding of how to move ahead into the future.
Although it is not common practice to provide students with monetary compensation for their course work, we feel that it’s important to provide them with some form of remuneration in this case as their work will be saving the Oral History Centre significant costs. Your support will go towards these students’ tuition costs as their work will help us learn from past refugee crises as we move forward in dealing with current and future refugee emergencies.
Every gift – be it $2 or $2,000 – makes a difference and the more people we can reach; the more likely it is that we will hit our goal. All gifts are tax deductible.
If you don’t want to make a gift online, you can also send a cheque to:
The University of Winnipeg Foundation
901 - 491 Portage Avenue
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 2E4 Canada
*Note: Please make sure to mark your cheque for "Salvadoran Voices of Manitoba" and your gift will be counted towards this initiative!
Call toll-free: 1-866-394-6050