Taking a walk through Oakwood Cemetery in the City of Niagara Falls, New York, you might notice the presence of many Armenian surnames like Sarkisian, Gamboian, and Stepanian: in fact, there are over 600 Armenians buried in this one cemetery.
While the city is known for the vibrant cultural heritage of its African American, Haudenosaunee, Italian, and Polish communities, there is another lesser-recognized historic ethnic group who have called the city home since the early twentieth century: the Armenians.
Survive, Remember, Thrive: Armenian Traditions in Western New York is a documentary video series produced by the Folk Arts Program at the Castellani Art Museum of Niagara University that celebrates local expressions of Armenian culture and heritage.
Survive, Remember, Thrive preserves the traditions, memories, and stories of the local Armenian community through one short film and 13 shortform videos that highlight Armenian churches, oral history and family narratives, food traditions, family owned businesses, artistic crafts, music, and more.
The series debuted to the public in the spring of 2022 at the Russell J. Salvatore Dining Commons on the Niagara University campus, with a limited series screening of a short film by the Buffalo Documentary Project, produced by the Castellani Art Museum of Niagara University, and a selection of five short videos created by the Castellani Art Museum.
Survive, Remember, Thrive: Armenian Traditions in Western New York is made possible through the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature, NYSCA Living Traditions, and Niagara University.
Special thanks to Dawn Sakalian, the Buffalo Documentary Project team including Mani Mehrvarz and Maryam Muliaee, and Gianna Lopez. And all of our collaborators and participants in this project, who’ve helped with outreach and guidance: Ani Avdoian, Kathy Peller, Albert Amato, Debbie Avdoian Amato, Anjelika Abrahamyan, Laurice Ghougasian, Art Garabedian, Lisa Ohanessian Mies, Lori Ohanessian Hurtgam, James Ieda, Alex Dzadur, Sonya Gregian, Rachel Aversa, Tony Mooradian Jr., Mike Petrosian, Tom Mooradian, Ophelia Adjemian, Mary Movesian, Gayane Ghukasyan, Robert "Butch" Kazeangin Jr., Gadge and Glenn Choolokian, John Sakalian, and more.
Project Director, Edward Y. J. Millar
Assistant Project Director, Dawn Sakalian
Community Support and Outreach, St. Sarkis Armenian Apostolic Church, St. Hagop Armenian Apostolic Church, and Western New York Armenian Community (WNYAC)
Cinematography, Buffalo Documentary Project
Film Production and Editing, Buffalo Documentary Project
Videography, Gianna Lopez and Edward Y. J. Millar
Video Production and Editing, Edward Y. J. Millar
Marketing & Museum Communications, Tara L. Walker