Montreal remembers Haitian quake
Community hosts various events to mark tragedy's 1st anniversary
The quake struck Haiti on Jan. 12, 2010, and resulted in the deaths of 230,000 people, including 58 Canadians.
Doors opened Wednesday morning at Maison d'Haiti, a Haitian community centre in Montreal's North End, for an open house with literary readings and a children's choir.
Maison d'Haiti was the first place many Haitian-Canadians called when they couldn't reach their families a year ago today.
At 4:53 p.m. ET Wednesday, a minute of silence was held at the community centre and at several other locations to mark the moment the quake hit Haiti.
A gathering of about 200 was also held at La Perle Retrouvée Haitian cultural centre in Montreal's St-Michel district, and there was a service at St-Joseph's Oratory to remember victims.
According to Statistics Canada, the 2006 census estimated Montreal's Haitian community at 85,000. It has grown by at least 3,000 since last year's earthquake.
A sombre day
"I was really sad and I was wondering how could I go through the day," said Maison D'Haiti director Marjorie Villefranche.
"Then I watched the TV and saw the people in Haiti, dressed very well, going to the mass. I said, if they are strong I have to be strong too," she said.
Villefranche said Haitians are discouraged by the slow pace of reconstruction in their home country, but she said they're still patient.
Guirlène Charles-Joseph, who was in Haiti when the earthquake struck, moved to Québec with her young daughter last October. She still has trouble riding Montreal's Metro or taking an elevator.
"It's all closed in, and the way it moves makes me think of the earthquake," said Charles-Joseph.
She said today would be very difficult as she relives what she went through, but at least she is surrounded by other Haitians.
Fundraisers for Haiti
Volunteers from Action S.O.S. Haiti were up early Wednesday morning collecting money in 12 Metro stations to help single mothers in Haiti.
Wearing straw hats, a common sight among Haitian farmers, they raised money to buy chickens and chicken coops for 40 single mothers in Petit Goâve, Haiti.
"Helping one woman, it's almost probably helping five to 10 people," said Montreal North borough Coun. Monica Rincourt, who was assisting with fundraising efforts Wednesday.
She said right now in Haiti women are often the subjects of abuse and there will be a one-year followup with each of the women.
Also on Wednesday, the association that represents Quebec construction managers (APECQ) announced Construction Without Borders, a project intended to create sustainable building projects in Haiti.