The theme of the 33rd World Affairs Conference was “Fixing the 21st century.” And while Lionel Gelber keynote speaker Nanor Balyozian, a refugee from Syria, can’t do that, she definitely embodied the human toll of global conflict.
An Armenian Christian who’d lived in Syria since her family fled genocide in 1915, Balyozian held the audience of about 400 delegates enthralled as she shared her story of her family’s flight, once again, this time from Aleppo, Syria with her husband, two children and just six suitcase. A trip through Lebanon ultimately landed them in Canada where it’s a struggle to integrate but safe, the ultimate gift. She showed photos of her kids’ boarded-up school windows to protect from shrapnel in the beseiged city. Ultimately, when her neighbour’s home was bombed, it was really time to leave.
Here are some highlights from her talk. Kudos to the enture team, advisors and volunteers.