Quest for Closure

Quest for Closure is a political history of the Armenian community in Canada and the attempts of its members to have the federal government officially recognize the Armenian Genocide that killed 1.5 Armenians from 1915 to 1923. Quest for Closure is the first book to treat this subject matter and brings to light new information and analyses to be shared with Canadians and others interested in human rights issues.

Joy Kogawa, author of the novel, Obasan, writes, "Lorne Shirinian's Quest for Closure is a profoundly important work…."

Ed Broadbent, former leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada, and Past-President of the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development writes, "Lorne Shirinian's Quest for Closure is not simply about the desire by Armenians in Canada to gain acceptance from their fellow citizens. It's a plea from the heart…."

Lorne Shirinian has written a powerfully compelling book on the extremely important topic of genocide and how the Armenian people, Canadians and the world at large deal with such a traumatic event and its aftermath. The author is in a unique position to provide insights into the Armenian Genocide of 1915 and how survivors in the diaspora, such as Armenian-Canadians, have coped. Shirinian chronicles the continuing frustrations of the elderly survivors, their descendants and human rights activists regarding the unwillingness of the Turkish government to recognize the Genocide and the continuing efforts of Turkish officials to dissuade other governments and people from recognizing the historical record. Quest For Closure is based on many years of original archival research, a multitude of interviews, as well as the author's own personal family experiences. This important book reprints rare and powerfully stark photos of the all too many dead and the emaciated survivors. Several key historical documents are also included in the appendices.

The main text of the book commences with an in depth account of the Genocide of 1915 and then documents the experiences of Armenians in Canada from the years just after the Genocide to the present era. The book is comprehensive in the time period covered and provides the first book-length account of Armenians in Canada and their attempt to deal with the ongoing consequences of the trauma of the first genocide of the twentieth century and the quest for some sort of closure and moral acceptance of responsibility by subsequent Turkish governments. Given historic calamities such as the Jewish Holocaust and the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Tutsis in the Rwandan genocide, Quest For Closure is a profoundly timely book. It is a powerful warning about the terrible costs of genocide and those who seek to deny such deeds. Prominent Canadian novelist Joy Kogawa in her moving introduction suggests:

There can be no healing without truth telling. There can be no hint of a first step towards reconciliation without acknowledgement of crimes done. When unspeakable horrors against a people are buried, the poison seeps down through generation upon generation. We are witness today that memory cannot be obliterated by time, denial or suppression, and that violence and hatred and cycles of violence continue.

We must remember. Remember and tell. Through Lorne Shirinian we hear ancestral voices and hopefully by remembering and learning, we can begin to build a more just world.

Alan Whitehorn
Professor of Political Science
Royal Military College of Canada
Former JS Woodsworth Professor of Humanities
Simon Fraser University