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Canada: young members of the Haitian diaspora are mobilizing

  • March 27, 2024
  • 8
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Ayiti, uncertain future of our common humanity

We, young members of the Haitian diaspora from Montreal, Quebec and Canada, want to raise a cry of alarm regarding the unprecedented and tragic situation in which our country of origin finds itself today. Our populations feed off each other and a large Haitian community has resided in Canada, mainly in Quebec, for more than sixty years. This diaspora plays a key role in various areas of Canadian society, both culturally and politically, medically and academically.

These are all the reasons that lead us to write this letter today to the various levels of government in Canada.

Since the beginning of March, the situation has deteriorated drastically in Haiti following the sudden collapse of state authorities in the wake of attacks by armed gangs. It seems worrying to us that no representative of the various levels of government to whom this letter is addressed saw fit to speak publicly to express their support for the Haitian population in Canada and Quebec, or to inform them of a sustainable action plan to support the institutions representing it in these difficult and complex times.

As it is important that Canada and Quebec assume their responsibilities towards Haitian people present in the territory, we clearly ask you to act to: Lift the veil on those responsible for arms and ammunition trafficking in Haiti. In a report published in 2023 by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, it is shown that Haiti does not officially manufacture any firearms or ammunition and that almost all new rifles, handguns, magazines and balls entering the country are imported legally or illegally. Through this letter, we want the Canadian government to take a position against this trafficking, to exert the necessary pressure on the governments identified in this report to have more transparency regarding their involvement and their role in this trafficking.

Establish better measures for displaced Haitian people. In 2023, Quebec was the only province to refuse to participate in a new federal program to welcome 11,000 nationals from Haiti, Venezuela and Colombia. Through this letter, we formally ask the Government of Quebec to reverse this decision by considering the current risks. We also propose to the two levels of government to review the family reunification process in order to reduce waiting times and facilitate requests made by members of the Haitian community.

More generously support Haitian-led mental health organizations or groups. We ask that the various levels of government work in concert with these organizations to provide them with the necessary resources for their employees and the diverse communities they serve. With resources that are too often limited, these groups concretely support Haitians, materially, institutionally, with regard to their immigration or forced displacement, and their mental health.

We want our people to know that we, members of the Haitian community and our allies, do not forget them, that we support them and that we will continue to campaign to preserve, beyond shame, our common humanity. Our deep commitment persists, not only to Haiti, but also to those of our people who have no other choice but to leave to save their lives. We are aware that, from abroad, it is not ours — no more than any foreign power — to dictate the form that the renewal will finally take in this country that we cherish so much. However, with the same conviction that we have put into participating in the construction, questioning and enrichment of our second homelands, we can put all our energy into ensuring, from our respective places, that all efforts are made to to protect human lives, to support their struggles in a respectful manner from the nations and territories of which we also have citizenship. We hope for a prompt response from you, because in the face of the rapidly deteriorating situation, it is your responsibility to take action to provide adequate support to the needs of Haitian communities in Canada.

Manuel Mathieu and Marina Mathieu

The first is an internationally renowned multidisciplinary artist; the second is a multidisciplinary cultural worker. This letter is their initiative. They co-signed it with around fifteen people.

Have co-signed this text: Kharoll-Ann Souffrant, researcher, university lecturer and writer; Gabriella Garbeau, bookseller and author; Fedora Mathieu, lawyer specializing in immigration and refugee law; Fabrice Vil, lawyer and columnist; Sly Toussaint; Schelby Jean-Baptiste, actress, author and presenter; Karine Coen-Sanchez, doctoral candidate and researcher; Lyndz Dantiste, actor and co-founder of the Théâtre de la Sentinelle; Miryam Charles, screenwriter, director and producer; Mona-Lisa Prosper, LL.B., MBA, lawyer and entrepreneurship program director; Maxime Mompérousse, actor and director; Taïna Mueth, multidisciplinary artist; Déborah Cherenfant, strategist in women’s entrepreneurship; Vanessa Destiné, host and columnist.