25 Years of History!

The history of RIVO in review

March 4th, 1993: RIVO is officially born!  

The membership builds over the years and the expertise in intervention with people who have suffered trauma from organized violence develops. As the network grows and knowledge is refined, RIVO becomes an essential intervention resource for immigrants. The number of people referred to RIVO increases over time and the organization provides services to people from all over the world. John Docherty, one of the founders of RIVO and coordinator to date, continues to accompany RIVO through its evolution.

In 2010, RIVO registers its most important year with nearly 700 therapy cases. However 2012 proves critical as the federal government cuts its health care program for refugees and asylum seekers (IFHP), throwing RIVO into a crisis. The organization loses 80% of its revenue in a single month. Thankfully, an anonymous donor saves RIVO with a $ 30,000 donation and another of $ 50,000 for the following years. This donor remains a significant supporter to RIVO.


Abdoul's story

After surviving through a few difficult years, RIVO rises back to life, thanks to the infallible commitment from John Docherty and its members. In 2014, RIVO launches its 1st fundraising campaign to secure new funding sources. The organisation recruits an ambassador: young refugee Abdoul Aziz Kimba Djado agrees to run a marathon for the cause, endorsing RIVO's slogan "Rehumanizing the world". For his 1st marathon, Abdoul ranks 6th over all and 1st in his age category.

Abdoul draws media attention. Through interviews, the athlete's story morphs from "the one who ran for his life," into "the one who runs for life". Follow this inspiring story in an interview on Radio-Canada's Médium-large with Catherine Perrin interviewing Abdoul with Véronique Harvey, Ts, psychotherapist and RIVO member.

New offices for RIVO

In August 2015, RIVO moves its sunny offices in a building shared by La Maisonnée, an NPO, which provides employability and francization services, making these complementary services locally accessible by immigrants receiving psychological support.


2015: Welcoming Syrian refugees


The announcement of the significant arrival of Syrian refugees raises a wave of sympathy and love for RIVO. In December, RIVO holds an "open house" where over 40 people from various organizations gather to celebrate the official opening of its new space. The images of Syrians fleeing massively by boat broadcast in the media create a decisive moment for RIVO, which welcomes "a wave of love" from visitors sympathetic to the refugee cause. Among them, Marie-Brodeur Gélinas, announces she will offer the proceeds from the sales of her « bienvenus les réfugiés » pins to RIVO.


Winds beneath their wings

RIVO is reborn and adds "Resilience" to its identity to become RIVO-Resilience. The parallel between the organisation's resilience, its ability to survive and rebuild, with that of the survivors, captures the imagination. In 2015, Amnesty International recognizes RIVO's work awarding it the "Benenson-Humphrey Award" - a prize awarded to an organization supporting victims of human rights abuse or defending fundamental rights - along with a $ 2000 grant.

Video testimonial of a survivor of torture who talks about the help he received at RIVO

And the recognition continues as the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) publishes an interview on RIVO's support of a 5-year-old boy.


Sharing knowledge through training

To better equip care providers from various institutional and community environments, RIVO has been sharing its expertise through training. On April 4, 2016, Gilles de Margerie, MD, and Véronique Harvey, Msc. Psychotherapist, both RIVO members, deliver a presentation at the Global Health Symposium on Trauma Intervention with Refugees to hundreds of medical students at McGill University.

For 2 years, RIVO has been highlighting the work of clinicians by publishing various blogs related to organized violence:

In this video clip, Anoushe Mashouf, a psychologist and RIVO co-founder, talks about her work with people who have experienced violence.

Awareness through celebrating resilience

On June 20, 2016, RIVO participates in World Refugee Day as a member of the organizing committee. The event was a success.

Throughout 2016, to raise public awareness on the importance of psychological support for vulnerable refugees and to emphasize the resilience of survivors, RIVO publishes a series of testimonials from survivors and a psychologist:

A survivor of incest and rape from India, now a supervisor in a Montreal company, tells of the help she received at RIVO.

At the Salon du livre de Montréal in 2016, Véronique Harvey meets Corneille who is launching a book on his life story and how he managed to rebuild himself after surviving the Rwandan genocide.

In March 2017, still seeking to improve the quality of its services and interventions, 18 RIVO clinicians follow a training in narrative approach provided by psychologist André Grégoire.

Supporting refugees to facilitate their integration

The growing number of refugees around the world - 22.5 million to date, according to the United Nations - requires serious consideration on their ability to reintegrate in their adopted country. Refugees and asylum seekers must first rebuild themselves as a person, regain self-confidence and trust in others, before they can integrate. Our present health care system can't respond to the particularities of these victims. This is why RIVO plays a crucial role because, in addition to providing direct support to the victims, the organization offers training and assistance to caregivers from all walks of life.

After 25 years of sustained effort, RIVO remains one of the few organizations to offer this cutting-edge service in Quebec, while demand continues to grow. This, among many reasons, is what makes RIVO indispensable and assures us that it is here to stay.

A tribute to a great founder

RIVO would never have existed without its co-founder and coordinator, John Docherty, who is often referred to as the "heart of RIVO". Like a great navigator, John was able to launch the organization, traverse storms, and lead RIVO towards the smoother sailing it experiences today. He is also the very essence of RIVO's reputation, often hailed for its integrity.

To learn more about this great man, read our interview with John Docherty.

Thanks’ a million!

We would like to take this opportunity to thank the committed therapists, the volunteer professionals who give their time and share their knowledge, the organizations and collaborators, our generous donors, from the modest personal donations to that of our generous anonymous donor.

We would also like to thank the George Hogg Family Foundation for its continued moral and financial support.

Finally, we salute the survivors, those called "vulnerable", but who are oh so brave and inspiring!

Thank you all, from the heart!

To learn more about RIVO, read our blog or follow us on Facebook.

To support our work and the process of rebuilding people who have experienced organized violence, please donate.


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