Two honoured for their commitment to Haiti

By RON FANFAIR

Hamilton-based anesthesiologist, Dr. Alezandre Dauphin and community worker Winston LaRose, have done a lot for Haiti over the years. Dauphin has facilitated the training of Haitian physicians in Canada and helped established the Association of Haitians in Hamilton while LaRose, with the aid of Seneca College, shipped computers and other educational material to the Caribbean country earlier this year.

Dauphin and LaRose were recognized for their significant contributions to Haiti with Humanitarian awards at the second annual Pierspective Entraide Humanitaire (PEH) fundraiser in Toronto.

“Haiti is a country that I have great love and respect for,” said LaRose, the executive director of the Jane-Finch Concerned Citizens Organization. “That country brought us the kind of freedom that we take for granted and it’s really important that we as a community come to the aid of this country. I think very highly of this award that I am receiving tonight.”

U.S. House and Ways Committee vice-chair, Marie St. Fleur, was the event’s keynote speaker.

She is part of a group of Haitian-American politicians who have forged an alliance with the hope of shaping legislation and policy towards Haiti. The 22-member group of mostly Democrats recently formed the National Haitian American Elected Officials Network. They met for the first time in Washington, DC last month to discuss immigration legislation and U.S. policy towards the first post-colonial independent Black-led nation in the world.

“Haiti is a marathon and not a sprint,” said St. Fleur, a Massachusetts Democrat who in 1999 became the first Haitian-American elected at the state level. “The baton has been passed to us. Sometimes, it will slip. Some of us will get tired along the way and we will go off. But we have to energize a new group of people every time in order to keep the work going.

“That’s what the PEH is all about. You have to pass that baton on to the next person and you want to make sure the foundation you lay is much stronger that the one we leave behind. That’s what this is all about.”

St. Fleur, who left Haiti at age seven, returned to the land of her birth for the first time two years ago.

“That trip changed my life,” said the Boston Law School graduate. “I thought I had seen poverty in the U.S., but what I saw in 2007 stunned me. I could not believe that less than 600 air miles from the tip of Florida was a country that was still steeped in the 19th and 20th century and that people were still beasts of burden.”

Dentist and Haiti’s honorary consul general in Toronto, Dr. Eric Pierre, helped establish the PEH in 2002. In the past seven years, the organization has shipped millions of dollars worth of food, clothing, toys, medical supplies and educational material to Haiti.

“We wanted to do more than just sit in our armchairs and pontificate about the country’s problems,” said Pierre. “That’s why this organization was formed. We are determined to stay the course despite of the challenges…We need your concrete support as individuals and corporations in order for our organization to grow and positively impact lives.”

Retired Canadian politician Alvin Curling and Caribbean consul corps diplomats Jenny Gumbs (Grenada) and Madeline Blackman (Antigua & Barbuda) attended the event.

 

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