Montreal

Politicians moved to tears by Anglade's commemoration of Haiti earthquake

Liberal MNA Dominique Anglade, who is of Haitian descent, recounted how she found out about her parents' deaths. They had been visiting the country on that Jan. 12, 2010. Anglade's sister finally reached her after 24 hours without any news. 

Anglade lost 4 members of her close family that day, including her parents

Quebec Liberal MNA Dominique Anglade received a hug from Quebec junior Health Minister Lionel Carmant after she tabled a motion marking the 10th anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti, Thursday. (Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press)

A motion commemorating the 10th anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti brought a number of politicians to tears Thursday. 

Liberal MNA Dominique Anglade, who is of Haitian descent, recounted how she found out about her parents' deaths. They had been visiting the country on that Jan. 12, 2010. Anglade's sister finally reached her after 24 hours without any news. 

"She couldn't tell me who was dead; she could only tell me who was alive," Anglade told the National Assembly. 

"She told me, this person survived, that person survived. And I said, 'Mom and dad?' It was at that moment I understood I had lost, all at once, my father, my mother, my uncle and my cousin.

"That's my story, but it's also the story of hundreds of thousands of people that day."

The Saint-Henri-Sainte-Anne MNA, who is also a candidate for party leader, recalled a saying by her father. He had been a political prisoner in Haiti and was in exile in Quebec, when he wrote in a letter to her mother the year Anglade was born: "Let us build days that resemble our dreams."

Let us build days that resemble our dreams.- Dominique Anglade's father, Georges Anglade, wrote in a letter to her mother

Despite the pain, the sadness and the suffering, Anglade said, "the will to build days that resemble our dreams" remains. 

Several politicians were moved by Anglade's story. Her Liberal colleagues wiped away tears and CAQ MNA and the junior health minister Lionel Carmant, who is also of Haitian descent, crossed the aisle to hug Anglade.

Anglade lost her father and mother in the 2010 earthquake. Liberal MNA Andre Fortin holds her hand. (Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press)

International Relations Minister Nadine Girault called Anglade's father, Georges Anglade, "a great intellectual for Quebec and Haiti still bound to his homeland."

Girault highlighted the fact there are 143,000 people in Quebec's Haitian community, "so this is also a Quebec tragedy."

Parti Québécois MNA Joël Arseneau said the disaster struck Quebec "in the heart… Our two peoples are historically linked."

Québec Solidaire MNA Catherine Dorion mentioned that Quebec had welcomed 8,400 survivors following the disaster. She said hospitality and empathy are Quebec values that need to not be forgotten.

"I'd like us to imagine for two seconds, losing several members of our close family all in one day, having no choice but to leave Quebec, where you grew up," Dorion said. 

"Imagine yourselves floored, dependent on NGO help, with no control over how your life has been radically altered, amid others who've lost everything, and with no access to government institutions because those institutions have crumbled."

In 35 seconds, the earthquake left 1.5 million homeless and destroyed some of the most important buildings in the country's capital city, Port-au-Prince. More than 200,000 people died in the disaster and its aftermath. 

"It'll have been 10 years, but for Haiti recovery has been a long and painful process," Arseneau said.

Translated by CBC Montreal

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