Haitian Quebecers scramble to reach loved ones, plan aid after major earthquake

marjorie villefranche

Montreal’s Haitian community is holding its breath as the country grapples with a major earthquake that Haiti’s civil protection agency said killed at least 227 people and left hundreds injured and missing.

The 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck Saturday morning in southwestern Haiti, eight kilometres from the town of Petit-Trou-de-Nippes.

The town is located about 150 kilometres away from Port-au-Prince, the country’s capital which has yet to recover from the devastating quake in 2010 that killed an estimated 250,000 people.

Marjorie Villefranche, a prominent member of Montreal’s Haitian community, said it’s been a scramble for many to try and get ahold of loved ones back home.

“It’s obvious that we’re like, ‘not again,'” said Villefranche, who runs La Maison d’Haïti, a non-profit resource centre for the Haitian community in Montreal.

“For the community in Quebec, we’re experiencing this with a huge feeling of helplessness. We are far from our loved ones, we are far from the country, we’re trying to understand what’s going on.”

Villefranche said she and other community leaders — including Frantz Benjamin, a Liberal member of Quebec’s National Assembly — are set to meet to try and come up with a plan.

“I hope there will be organized help that will come quickly to the people,” Villefranche said.

“We hope too that the aftershock will not be as terrible as it was for Port-au-Prince [back in 2010].”

Haiti is embroiled in humanitarian and political crises a little more than a month after President Jovenel Moïse was brazenly assassinated in his own home.

A truck is covered by parts of a wall that fell on it during an earthquake in Les Cayes, Haiti, on Saturday (Delot Jean/The Associated Press)

Frantz Voltaire, a Montreal-based documentary filmmaker, knows the southwestern region of Haiti well. His family comes from there, although most of it has since moved to other regions.

Voltaire is concerned that the region is “a very isolated place,” with limited ways to access it. He said that could make it more difficult to get help to those in need. 

“There is only one main road to access the main cities,” he said.

“It’s important for us — and I’m talking about the Haitian diaspora, people of Haitian descent — it’s important for us to mobilize resources in our communities but also, I think Canada and Quebec have to help because this is a very difficult situation.”

Frantz Voltaire, a Montreal-based documentary filmmaker, said he’s worried about help getting to those in need due to the isolated nature of the country’s southwest. (Franca Mignacca/CBC)

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante expressed her solidarity with the people of Haiti. “Montreal will participate financially in the international [aid] efforts,” the mayor posted on Twitter.

Quebec Premier François Legault also took to social media, expressing his condolences to the earthquake’s victims.

“My thoughts are with the Haitian people that has to once again experience such a tragedy,” Legault tweeted. “All of Quebec is with you.”

Author: desi123

Desi123.com is an online news portal that aims to provide the latest trendy news for Asians living in Asia and around the World.

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