Ideas from the Trenches - Just Trying to Help

There are 50,000 PhD candidates in Canada, toiling away in relative obscurity, immersing themselves in fascinating research that rarely sees the light of day. In this episode, producers Tom Howell and Nicola Luksic meet recent Western University PhD graduate Marylynn Steckley. She spent six years in Haiti, learning about the effects of slavery, colonialism and racism, and finding inspiration in an emerging peasant movement.
Harry Nicolas is a Haitian local food advocate. He’s pictured here at a market in Port au Prince. ( Joshua Steckley)
Listen to the full episode54:00

Producers Tom Howell and Nicola Luksic meet recent Western University PhD graduate Marylynn Steckley. She spent six years in Haiti, learning about the effects of slavery, colonialism and racism, and finding inspiration in an emerging peasant movement. **This episode originally aired September 15, 2015.
 

Development aid gone wrong: How Haitian farmers were removed from their fertile land 0:29


 

"I'm now struggling to see what the good ways of helping are. Wealthy nations continue to cause disaster, poverty in Haiti. And the path to understanding is looking at how we contribute to that destruction."
-- Marylynn Steckley, PhD graduate, Western University


The borderlands that separate genuine helpfulness from meddling -- or worse -- are an unruly region in the realm of thought, riddled with questions of consent and of who-knows-best. In this episode Marylynn Steckley takes us to a small, densely populated island in the Caribbean, where wealthy foreigners have been 'just trying to help' for decades: the troubled nation of Haiti.

  

Guests in this episode: 

  • Anton Allahar - Professor of Sociology at Western University specializing in ethnic and racial relations, globalization, democracy and Caribbean Studies.

  • Kysseline Cherestal - Lawyer and senior policy analyst with ActionAID USA. She and her team interviewed more than 150 displaced farmers in the Caracol region of Haiti. Here's a link to their reports: Land for Haiti 

  • Harry Nicolas - director of Kore Pwodiksyon Lokal (advocacy group for local production in Haiti), songwriter, and star of several TV commercials such as this one

  • Yasmine Shamsie - Professor of Political Science at Wilfrid Laurier University, specializing in democracy-building and economic development programs of international actors (governments and international organizations) in Central America and the Caribbean.


Special Thanks:

We met Marylynn Steckley thanks to David Holton and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council's Storytellers competition in Ottawa.  

She was one of the five winners from the competition in 2014. Here's her winning 3-minute presentation

PhD graduate Marylynn Steckley with her son Hayden Jwasiys Steckley (Joshua Steckley)

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