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By Barbara Black
Alumnus James M. Stanford has given $1.3 million to a Concordia-based project aimed at preventing genocide.
The gift from the Calgary businessman will fund the Will to Intervene (W2I) project developed by the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (MIGS), based at Concordia.
W2I takes aim at politicians, business leaders and those who direct non-government organizations to exert pressure on decision-makers. It is the inspiration of MIGS senior fellow Senator Roméo Dallaire, the much-decorated retired army officer who turned his shattering disappointment with United Nations forces in Rwanda into a fierce drive to build world peace.
With the announcement of his gift, Stanford said, “The important work by MIGS and the W2I program on genocide education and prevention has never been more compelling and relevant. The involvement of Lt.-Gen. Dallaire (ret.), our country’s foremost peace ambassador, is a testament to the calibre, integrity and significance of these initiatives.”
Stanford is president of Stanford Resource Management Inc. He is the retired president, chief executive officer and a director of Petro-Canada, and chairman of the board of OPTI Canada Inc. and NOVA Chemicals Corporation.
He earned a BSc in mining engineering from Loyola College in 1958, and another BSc, in petroleum engineering, from the University of Alberta. In recognition of his career, the U of A and Concordia have both awarded him honorary doctorates, and he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. Sen. Dallaire was awarded the Loyola Medal in 2006.
MIGS was established in 1986 to uncover the underlying reasons for genocide and other crimes against humanity and make policy recommendations on how to resolve conflicts before they become mass atrocities.
History professor Frank Chalk, who is the Institute’s founder and director, said, “Throughout the years, our Institute has had a positive impact on genocide prevention, early warning and accountability for war crimes around the world. Our graduates are making meaningful contributions to government agencies, regional security organizations, NGOs and educational institutions.
“From the Armenian genocide to the Holocaust, from Cambodia to Rwanda and Darfur, MIGS stands in the front ranks of respected research centres, and is consulted whenever issues related to genocide and crimes against humanity arise. This generous gift will make it possible for us to strengthen and further our mission.”
Chalk heads to London, Madrid and Kigali in March and April for consultations on the situation in Darfur, the activities of hate media, and the development of new forms of evidence to document genocide before domestic and international courts.
Kathy Assayag, Vice-President, Advancement and Alumni Relations, was especially pleased with the generous gift, which signals a great lead-up to the university’s major fundraising campaign.
“We are grateful to alumni like James M. Stanford, who continue to support their alma mater and higher education in general,” she said.