Refugee Jean-Baptiste Mukiza resettles in NDG, shares sport with community

December 10, 2015

By Douglas Gelevan, CBC News |

Sports can be about much more than just winning or losing a game.

It can bring people together. It can be a common language between different cultures.

And sometimes, as in the case of Rwandan refugee Jean-Baptiste Mukiza, it can rebuild a life.

Mukiza is a survivor or the Rwandan genocide and is now living in Montreal and working as the food distribution manager for the NDG Food Depot.

A new work-out routine

On Tuesdays after work at the NDG Food Depot, Mukiza snaps his fingers and leads his co-workers in a dance work out routine he calls Gym-Tonic.

It’s a new initiative that he created since starting work at the depot.

He smiles from ear-to-ear as the music plays. It’s clear by watching him that doing this activity with the people he works with fills him with joy.

“Our language is different, (our) colour is different but (we have) the same focus, the same pleasure,” Mukiza said.

The food depot’s director of development, Bonnie Soutar, shares Mukiza’s enthusiasm for his program.

“The staff works to their maximum, so to have that hour where we kind of get together and we do something fun and energetic and lively and there is music… it’s really quite bonding,” she said.

Mukiza knows sports and activities like this can bring people closer together.

It is a lesson he first learned as a young boy — in aftermath of the Rwandan genocide.

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