Selkirk College Partners with Rwandan Music School

Contemporary Music & Technology Program Opens Doors to Africa


A blossoming relationship between the Selkirk College Contemporary Music & Technology Program and Rwanda’s Nyundo School of Music has been formalized.

Earlier this spring, music program instructor Gilles Parenteau and three Selkirk College students traveled to the African nation to repay a visit that took place this past September when a group from Nyundo spent a few days at Nelson’s Tenth Street Campus. During their two weeks in abroad, Parenteau signed an agreement on behalf of Selkirk College with Rwanda’s Ministry of Education aimed at promoting student and staff exchange, expertise on areas such as on-line training, joint field studies, internships, cultural tours and more.

Rwandan partnership

Selkirk College Contemporary Music & Technology Program instructor Gilles Parenteau and students Amanda Jane Cawley, Blake Unruh and Mitchell Hahn with their Nyundo School of Music peers during a visit to Rwanda this past March. The two music schools have signed an agreement that will see the relationship grow in many ways over the coming years.

“It started back in September with everyone taking a little bit of a leap-of-faith… which I’m so glad we did,” says Parenteau.

The Nyundo School of Music is part of Rwanda’s Ecole des Arts and was established in 2014 by the government to encourage confidence, musical expression, professional development, existing traditions and musical instruments, and transferable skills in all aspects of the Rwandan music industry. 

The school is under the direction of Canadian musician Mighty Popo. A Rwandan/Burundian refugee who survived the horrors of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, Popo’s family fled to Canada where he eventually established himself as one of the country’s leading world music performers. He won a 2005 Juno Award for World Music Album of the Year as part of a project called “The African Guitar Summit.”

Mighty Popo and 10 of his students came to Canada in September and one of the stops was Nelson where strong bonds were developed with both students and faculty. A pair of concerts that brought together students and faculty from both schools raised money for advancing the exchange. The trip to Rwanda by the Selkirk College contingent was the next step.

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