By Tom Godfrey/QMI Agency
TORONTO – Activist Paul Rusesabagina, who inspired the hit movie Hotel Rwanda, has bowed to pressure and cancelled a visit to Winnipeg where he was to join former U.S. vice-president Al Gore and other dignitaries.
Last week, members of Toronto’s Rwandan community called on the federal government to deny Rusesabagina entry into the country.
Rusesabagina, 57, was scheduled to attend a youth empowerment event – a We Day celebration – on Nov. 23.
Some of the other guests include actress and UNICEF goodwill ambassador Mia Farrow, wheelchair hero Rick Hansen and former prime minister Paul Martin.
The high-profile activist has been dogged by fellow Rwandans who accuse him of being a “genocide revisionist and denier.”
John Ruku-Rwabyoma of the Rwandese Canadian Association of Greater Toronto and others accuse Rusesabagina of charging fees for sheltering fleeing Tutsis and moderate Hutus at the UN-protected Sabena Hotel des Mille Collines during the genocide.
“We are very pleased and delighted that he is no longer coming to Canada,” said Ruku-Rwabyoma. “The community is healing and they didn’t want him here.”
Event publicist Tamara Kaftalovich told the association that Rusesabagina will not appear as scheduled at the Free the Children event in Winnipeg.
In 1994, the majority Hutus slaughtered 800,000 Tutsis in Rwanda.
Rusesabagina has been internationally honoured for saving the lives of 1,268 Tutsi refugees while working as an assistant manager of the hotel. He used his influence to shelter the Tutsis and moderate Hutus from death.
His efforts were the basis of the highly acclaimed 2004 film Hotel Rwanda.
Rusesabagina lives in Brussels with his wife and children.