Martial Arts for Justice president Dean Siminoff is seen here with Xaverine Mujawayezu, vice president of Avega Agahozo, a foundation in Rwanda that assists widows and orphans of the country’s 1994 genocide. Photo submitted

Martial Arts for Justice president Dean Siminoff is seen here with Xaverine Mujawayezu, vice president of Avega Agahozo, a foundation in Rwanda that assists widows and orphans of the country’s 1994 genocide. Photo submitted

Martial Arts for Justice aims to help 500 genocide survivors in Rwanda in 2020

The Nelson-based charity has also debuted its own YouTube channel

Submitted by Martial Arts for Justice

A Nelson-based national charity wants to help 500 genocide survivors in Rwanda this year, and it needs martial arts students across Canada to help them achieve that goal.

Nelson native Master Dean Siminoff is president of Martial Arts for Justice, which raises money each spring with a board breaking competition to fund projects such as teaching survivors of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda how to overcome their trauma.

“One person here can help one survivor in Rwanda,” says Siminoff. “That’s the way we’re breaking it down. Martial arts schools across Canada participate in our Breaking Boards Breaking Chains fundraiser each year, and if each student raises enough money, one person here will help one person in Rwanda.”

Martial arts schools host public events in April and May that promote their sport, the schools and their efforts to support MAJ. It is a significant opportunity for school owners to teach their students to be champions of justice. The number of schools and students participating increases each year, and this year Siminoff has set a target of raising $75,000.

A new tool he has this year to explain what they’re accomplishing is two new videos on YouTube showing the results of enhanced resilience training. Go to the MAJ YouTube channel to see the people and training they’re receiving in Rwanda as well as the difference it is making. A television interview in Kigali with Siminoff last year led to the production company working with MAJ to produce the videos.

“I’ve been going to Rwanda for four years to train therapists and survivors in our enhanced resilience program that uses a unique combination of physical and mental exercises to help them through the trauma that they’ve been living with for more than 25 years,” he says.

“Each trip we grow our network of people there and broaden what we can accomplish. We’ve been working with AVEGA, an association of genocide widows that formed shortly after the genocide ended and has 20,000 members. Many of the therapists are survivors themselves, and our focus is on training instructors to multiply the number we can help. This year we decided we need to scale it up, and that’s how we set on the goal of training 500 survivors in 2020.”

MAJ has a team in Kigali who Siminoff has trained to deliver the enhanced resilience program alongside him.

“Our goal is that if our team can deliver the program to 20 people each week spread over 25 weeks we will hit our target of 500 widows re-empowered. It’s putting more control of their life into their hands. Protecting vulnerable people and empowering them is something that all martial artists should care about. That’s why we’re encouraging martial arts schools to get involved.”

To share his experience with Martial Arts for Justice, the enhanced resilience program and the work they are doing in Rwanda, Siminoff is planning a public information night in Nelson this spring after he returns from an upcoming trip to Rwanda. He is also available for public speaking engagements by request.

If you are a school owner or student, or to find a martial arts school you can support in the Breaking Boards Breaking Chains campaign, or to make a donation, visit Siminoff also notes that although the BBBC campaign is focused on mobilizing martial arts schools across Canada, anyone who cares about fighting gender violence and trauma can donate or get involved.

Breaking Boards Breaking Chains has raised more than $280,000 since it started in 2013. The money has supported efforts to end modern-day slavery, rescue victims of human trafficking and help survivors of the Rwandan genocide overcome trauma and begin to rebuild their lives.

Martial Arts for Justice is an alliance of martial artists and school owners who choose to actively pursue justice, locally and globally. With head office in Nelson, it works with martial arts schools across Canada and internationally to help bring an end to violence and oppression.

Charity and Donations

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons. File photo.
MP Morrison calls Keystone XL permit cancellation ‘devastating news’

Kootenay-Columbia MP reacts to the Conservative Party’s removal of a controversial Ontario MP

Interior Health reported 91 new COVID-19 cases in the region Jan. 20, 2021 and three additional deaths. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
95 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health, two deaths

Another member of Vernon’s Noric House has passed

It was a quiet week for COVID-19 cases in the West Kootenay. Illustration: B.C. Centre for Disease Control
Two new cases of COVID-19 in Nelson area

The cases were confirmed for the week of Jan. 10 to 16

The Nelson and District Community Complex ice has mostly been empty this season with the Nelson Leafs’ season on hold due to the pandemic. File photo
Six Nelson sports groups included in provincial grant

The Local Sports Relief Fund is meant to offset pandemic-related expenses

The Nelson library’s podcast club is like a book club, but for podcasts. Photo: Submitted
CHECK THIS OUT: Happiness at the library

Columnist Avi Silberstein invites you to the library’s podcast club

Businesses continue to struggle under COVID-19 restrictions as the pandemic reaches the one-year mark. (B.C. government)
Another 564 COVID-19 cases, mass vaccine plan coming Friday

15 more deaths, community cluster declared in Williams Lake

A specialized RCMP team is investigating a suspicious trailer, which might have connections to the illicit drug trade, found abandoned outside a Cache Creek motel. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> files)
Police probe U-Haul trailer linked to illicit drugs left outside Cache Creek motel

Hazardous materials found inside believed to be consistent with the production of illicit drugs

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

From the left: Midway RCMP Csts. Jonathan Stermscheg and Chris Hansen, Public Servant Leanne Mclaren and Cpl. Phil Peters. Pictured in the front are Mclaren’s dog, Lincoln and Peters’ dog, Angel. Photo courtesy of BC RCMP
Midway Mounties commended for bringing firewood to elderly woman

Cpl. Phil Peters said he and detachment members acted after the woman’s husband went to hospital

Premier John Horgan leaves the podium following his first press conference of the year as he comments on various questions from the media in the Press Gallery at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, January 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interprovincial travel restrictions a no-go, Horgan says after reviewing legal options

The B.C. NDP government sought legal advice as concerns of travel continue

Gem Lake Top, at Big White Ski Resort, seen at Jan. 8. (Big White Ski Resort)
Big White cancels $7.3M in lift tickets, accommodations due to COVID-19 orders

Since November, the ski resort has been forced to make several changes

Darlene Curylo scratched a $3M ticket, BCLC’s largest ever scratch and win prize. (BCLC)
Kelowna woman in shock after winning BCLC’s largest-ever instant-ticket prize

Darlene Curylo couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw the amount of money she’d won from a scratch ticket

While each person has different reasons for becoming homeless, a UBCO study shows they learn through their interactions with different services to perform ‘as homeless’ based on the expectations of service providers. (Contributed)
Kelowna homeless forced to ‘perform’ for resources, says UBCO study

One participant in the study said ‘It is about looking homeless, but not too homeless’

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette takes the royal salute from the Guard of Honour as she makes her way deliver the the throne speech, Wednesday, September 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Gov. Gen. Julie Payette resigns, apologizes for ‘tensions’ at Rideau Hall

Payette, who is the Queen’s representative in Canada, has been the governor general since 2017

Most Read