Judi Rever was born in Montreal and raised in the Quebec countryside, the youngest of two children. At age 18, she moved to Ontario, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Western University and a Bachelor of Applied Arts in Journalism from Ryerson University. In later years, she completed a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia.
In 1993 she worked briefly for an arts and cultural affairs program at CBC radio in Quebec City before moving to France and doing research in Europe for several documentaries that aired on CBC television’s flagship program, The Fifth Estate. The experience was formative; senior journalists she worked with taught her techniques in building a network of sources and collecting evidence. She also learned the importance of storytelling, valuing skepticism over cynicism, and holding power to account.
During that time, Rever did research for the Fifth Estate's investigation of the Airbus scandal, which revealed secret commissions paid to Canadian politicians when Brian Mulroney was prime minister, in exchange for Air Canada’s purchases of Airbus jets. She helped investigate the activities of German businessman Wolfgang Stolzenberg, who defrauded Canadian and European residents out of hundreds of millions of dollars, and she helped expose the criminal activities of Pierre Maltais, a Quebecois cult leader and alleged pedophile who operated for years in Europe.
In 1996, Rever joined Radio France Internationale’s Africa desk, and was sent into the field to cover historical events that would ultimately shape her world view. She went to the Democratic Republic of Congo to cover the humanitarian crisis following the toppling of dictator Mobutu Sese Seko by Paul Kagame’s army. She interviewed Congolese civilians displaced by the war and Rwandan Hutu refugees who survived attacks by Kagame’s Tutsi troops in the Congolese forests. After leaving Congo she went to Rwanda to interview returning refugees and other Rwandans in the countryside. It was during her trip to central Africa that she began to question the official narrative of the Rwandan genocide, specifically the claim that Kagame's troops had stopped the violence in 1994. She invariably struggled with the editorial demands of telling African stories through a 'western lens' and with questions of moral responsibility.
In 1998 she left RFI to work for Agence France-Presse as a correspondent in Abidjan covering West Africa. She reported from Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Togo, Ghana, Guinea and covered the Christmas Eve coup in Ivory Coast in 1999. She also reported from Jerusalem and Gaza at the beginning of the second Intifada.
In 2002, she left AFP to return to Montreal, where she resumed her research on Congo and Rwanda. She eventually collected testimony of RPF crimes from more than 200 direct and contextual witnesses in Africa, Europe and North America, including defectors from Paul Kagame's regime. She interviewed lawyers and investigators who worked at the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and accessed confidential documents compiled by the ICTR's Special Investigations Unit that probed RPF crimes.
Her work on Rwanda has appeared in The Globe and Mail, Canada's national newspaper. In 2014, she and The Globe's Africa bureau chief, Geoffrey York, investigated the role of the Rwandan government in assassinating dissidents abroad. The evidence from their investigation was central to discussions at a US Congressional Hearing in Washington DC on Rwanda's human rights situation in 2015. The US State Department revealed that The Globe and Mail's investigation was credible, and that US officials raised the issue of assassination plots with the Rwandan government.
Rever has also written for Le Monde Diplomatique, Digital Journal, Foreign Policy Journal, and OpenCanada. She provides expertise on legal protection for Rwandan refugees as a country of origin information (COI) expert on Rwanda.