By Derek Congram, Lecturer on Peace, Conflict, and Justice at the Munk School of Global Affairs
I grew up in the suburbs of Windsor, Ontario. There was a large Slavic (and specifically South, or Jugo, Slav) population in the area, many having immigrated to work at the Big Three auto factories. My friends and classmates growing up included a Brkovic, Chuk, Sladic, and Stankovic. But in elementary and high school my only knowledge of Serbia, Croatia, and by proxy Bosnia, was due to the nation-linked second generation soccer teams in the city and their respective cultural centres. When wars broke out in the 1990s, these friends did not talk to me about them. The wars were neither a subject of conversation at school nor, for me at least, at home. I’m still confused and, admittedly, embarrassed that the only reason I knew about the siege of Sarajevo was because U2 recorded a song about it (Miss Sarajevo), which they were playing on the radio. In hindsight, I find it remarkable – even though I was not actively seeking to be informed – that I could know almost nothing about the ongoing wars in the fragmenting Yugoslavia and associated war crimes, crimes against humanity, firefights involving Canadian peace-keepers, and ultimately genocide.