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Defenders for Human Rights
Remzi Cej

Remzi Cej Displacement to Activism

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GRADE LEVELS = 7 to 12  /  SUGGESTED TIME = Three 60 minute class periods

Preparatory Set

  1. Be sure that the students are familiar with the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s and the types of situations which Remzi Cej experienced.
  2. View one of the following two videos; viewer discretion is advised.

    Yugoslav Wars 1991 – 1999 (1 hour, 53 minutes)
    WARNING: Contains extremely strong video footage, viewers discretion is advised.
    The Yugoslav Wars were a series of violent conflicts fought in former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia during the 1990s and 2001. The wars were characterized by bitter ethnic conflicts between the peoples of the former Yugoslavia, mostly between Serbs on the one side and Croats, Bosniaks and Albanians on the other.

    Life in Kosovo: War Crimes with English Subtitle (47:12 minutes)

Activity 1

View Remzi Cej’s presentation on TEDxSTJOHNS Bridging Adversity. (15:52 minutes)
N.B. Disponible en anglais seulement mais un vidéo recommandé.
Remzi Cej uses his hardships and struggles to do something positive for others. He believes that people do not forget or overcome their adversity but rather learn to manage it. One must learn to transform it into inspiration.

  1. Ask students to journal their reflections on Remzi’s experience.
  2. Discuss how Remzi Cej’s philosophy of bridging adversity was formed and its impact and application in our world today.
  3. To focus your discussion on a Canadian situation you may choose to apply the philosophy to one of the following groups:
    1. Canadian veterans from the various wars
    2. survivors of the residential schools
    3. victims of sexual abuse within the Catholic church
  4. Everyone faces adversity in life at one point or another. Ask students to write a poem advocating and illustrating how Remzi Cej’s philosophy of managing adversity and turning it into inspiration, could be applied to a high school student’s life.

Activity 2

  1. Ask students to review one or more of the simplified versions of the legal instruments in Speak Truth to Power Canada, and to identify those rights that were violated when you think of Remzi’s lived experience as a war refugee.
  2. Ask students to select three of the rights they identified and to write a paragraph on how each one of those rights was violated, and the short and long-term impacts on the individual.

Advocacy Activity

Linking to the Moments in Time section of this resource, under the theme of this lesson plan Displacement to Activism:

  1. Ask students to research one of these moments identified under the theme.
  2. Ask them to write a short opinion piece that includes the following in their reflection:
    1. Media and other events surrounding that particular period and issue (e.g. Due to the refugee crisis in Southeast Asia, in 1979 Canada sponsored 26,000 refugees from Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Canadian citizens sponsored an additional 34,000 refugees.)
    2. Due to the refugee crisis in Southeast Asia, Canada sponsors 26,000 refugees from Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Canadian citizens sponsor an additional 34,000 refugees.)
    3. Was this particular human rights moment in time perceived as an advancement or a setback at the time? Please explain.
    4. Today, would that same moment be perceived as an advancement or a setback? Please explain.

Culminating Activity

Remzi Cej has been active in many human rights organizations. Ask students to research, prepare and share a presentation to the class explaining the work of one of the following humanitarian aid organizations in which he participated while a student in high school. Include a visual that may be displayed in your school to enhance awareness of others.

Extension Activity

Remzi Cej and his family spent 1½ years in refugee camps in Albania waiting to be accepted as refugees into Canada. Refugee camps are set up by United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) when the need is urgent but become the responsibility of the country on whose land they occupy. Many agencies work together but they need the support of the international community. There are many refugee camps in the world today and the need is huge.

  1. Ask students to research one of the refugee camps under the UNHCR website.
  2. Ask them to investigate what life is like in refugee camps.
  3. Ask them to prepare a visual presentation to share with the class that ends with a social action.
  4. If time permits, all presentations could be shared through a school-wide Assembly.