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Lama Mugabo, a Community Planner who uses storytelling as a planning tool. In 2005, Mugabo co-founded BBR – Building Bridges with Rwanda, a non-profit organization aimed at fostering collaboration between international volunteers and Rwandan counterparts engaged in the reconstruction of their society. Now, as the host of the Baraza podcast, Lama engages change agents in insightful conversations about nutrition, wellness, and community development. Through these interviews, the goal is to facilitate collective learning, growth, and the rebuilding of communities on both local and global scales.


In a captivating life journey, Lama Mugabo, a community planner driven by a passion for nutrition, wellness, and community service, reflects on his upbringing as a Rwandan political refugee in Bujumbura, Burundi. Fueled by the injustices faced by Rwandans—always the last to be hired and first to be fired—Lama's commitment to social and economic justice was born.

Lama's narrative unfolds at Lester B Pearson College of the Pacific in Canada, where he flourished from 1975-1977, imbibing the institution's vision of promoting international understanding through experiential learning. This experience shaped Lama's life purpose, and he dedicated himself to serving his community. Stateless but welcomed by Canada, Lama never forgot his roots.

Post the 1994 genocide against the Tutsis, Lama embarked on contributing to the rebuilding of Rwanda. Armed with a bachelor’s degree in communication from Simon Fraser University, he sought to tell African stories with depth, countering the often-shallow portrayals in mainstream media. Joining the UBC School of Community and Regional Planning in 2000, Lama aimed to acquire practical skills for Rwanda's sustainable development goals.

In 2004, Lama led the Remember Rwanda 10 years campaign, raising awareness across ten Canadian cities. The campaign's success prompted Lama to establish Building Bridges with Rwanda, fostering a platform for learning exchange between Rwandans and Canadians. In 2008, he relocated to Rwanda, leading a team for seven years in the Gashora Integrated Community Development Initiative, facilitating cross-cultural and experiential learning.

Collaborating with international partners, the initiative resulted in positive changes, including economic growth, job creation, and educational opportunities for Rwandan youth. In 2019, Building Bridges with Rwanda joined forces with Hogan’s Alley Society and the Institute for Diaspora Research and Engagement to commemorate 25 years of post-genocide liberation. The Remember Rwanda 25 Legacy Project aims to inspire learning about the Rwanda Development Model through reflection tours, conferences, and collaborative projects.

Lama Mugabo is a sessional instructor at Simon Fraser University, where he teaches courses on the hidden history of Hogan’s Alley, a Black neighborhood in Vancouver that was displaced by the construction of Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts and the remarkable transformation of Rwanda from a failed state in 1994 to a model state today. Lama is frequently invited to speak on social and economic justice issues. He continues his impactful work in Vancouver's Downtown East Side and contributes to discussions on Rwanda's sustainable development in the media. Lama’s journey stands as a testament to the transformative power of community engagement and cross-cultural collaboration.

RR25 Legacy Project at SFU June 6, 2019

Lama Mugabo joins Below the Radar to speak to building community and solidarity, from Rwanda to Hogan’s Alley. Lama is a Rwandan-born community organizer and planner with deep roots in the Downtown Eastside and the Black community in Vancouver.


University of British Columbia Feb 2020

Black History Month in Feb 2019 - Building Bridges with Rwanda in collaboration with the Institute for Diaspora Research and Engagement (Simon Fraser University). RR25 Legacy Project worked with UBC Global Fund to host 4 Dialogue Sessions: Gender, Tribalism and Ethnic Division, Islamophobia, Indigenous Vs Settlers conflicts. Each dialogue session had a facilitator, and a rapporteur whose responsibility was to synthesize highlights from each dialogue session to the plenary. Participants told us: “I learned a lot. I would like to see more opportunities to learn from positive outcomes from the continent.” “The results we see from Rwanda have challenged the assumptions that knowledge flows from North to South. It’s refreshing to learn how it has bounced back from its 1004 tragedy.” 

Screenshot_2020-02-15 RR25 Legacy Projec.webp

Reel Causes

Panelist on a community conversation about race relations between Blacks and Asians in Vancouver based on an award-winning documentary Down a Dark Stairwell. 


City of New West - Sanctuary City Team

Working as an organizer for CAN, Lama was instrumental in recruiting and training change agents who used their lived experience to advocate for policy change.  

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