In existence since 1972, La Maison d’ Haiti (The Haitian House) in Montreal is the place where every Haitian visiting “The City of a Hundred Steeples” ought to have an obligation to stop by. I usually go to Canada, but last week was the first time I had the privilege to do so. Well-known Haitian activist and a friend, Maguy Métellus, made all the arrangements for the visit. Maguy herself is a founding member of this historic social services center. Her sister Mireille Métellus is one of the main coordinators there.
Nestled on Boulevard Saint Michel, few miles from the Centreville, its location seems strategic, for this is an area of a sprawling immigrant population—from Southeast Asia to Sub-Saharan Africa to the Caribbean. Several social services are being offered, including an afterschool program, a job development program and a program that is designed to help undocumented immigrants to find jobs and insurance subsidies so they can be an integral part of the affordable Canadian healthcare system.
According to Mr. Alix Jean, who is in charge of the afterschool program, at the beginning, the center was a venue for the promotion of Haitian culture. In 1985, however, the center widened its doors to offer social services not just to Haitian immigrants, but also to everyone in need of its services.
Because of the ever increasing demands for services, La Maison d’Haiti has been under pressure to create a much bigger place to accommodate everyone. Consequently, the administration has been hard at work, raising money to build a new place. The fundraising campaign is bearing fruits. Five million dollars has already been raised and the construction of a new building is set to begin very soon. According to Mrs. Marjorie Villefranche, the center’s General Director, they break the ground in September. Project pictures can be found in our Facebook fan page.
La Maison d’Haiti is indeed an exemplary endeavor for other Haitian communities scattered across North America and beyond.
Note: Dr. Ardain Isma is Chief-Editor for CSMS Magazine. He is a novelist. His latest novel, Midnight at Noon, can be purchased on Amazon and other book retailers. He may be reached firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, more pictures can be found on our Facebook Fan page: www.facebook.com/csmsmagazine