by Higerta Gjergji

The nation of Haiti is currently ravaged by a severe and violent crisis. Armed gangs have taken control of 80% of the capital, Port-au-Prince. In response to this escalating wave of violence, the Haitian government has extended the state of emergency and implemented a nighttime curfew to contain the situation. However, despite these efforts, the country’s humanitarian problems are reaching crisis levels, with thousands forced to flee their homes and become internally displaced.

Over the past six months, the director of Maison d’Haiti – a community and cultural organization founded in 1972 with missions focused on reception, education, integration, and improving the living conditions of people of Haitian origin, Afro-descendants, and immigrants – has received a barrage of messages from Haitians seeking assistance to leave the country. Messages arrived with desperate pleas such as, “Please get us out of here. We’re starving, scared, and at the mercy of the violence,” which, according to reports, represents an unprecedented situation.

The director, Marjorie Villefranche, also serves as the spokesperson for La Concertation Haïtienne (CHPM), a grassroots initiative established following the arrival of a large number of migrants, mainly from the United States, in the summer of 2017. CHPM comprises about ten community organizations working in the fields of immigration, newcomer reception, education, health, social services, and others. It intervenes with governmental and institutional authorities and civil laws aimed at promoting better management and integration of recently arrived asylum seekers in Quebec and Canada.

CHPM’s primary goal is to advocate with governmental and institutional authorities and promote the adoption of civil laws aimed at ensuring better management and integration of asylum seekers arriving in Quebec and the rest of Canada. However, the severity of the crisis in Haiti has prompted CHPM to extend its focus beyond national borders, with a particular emphasis on protecting Haitian citizens exposed to alarming levels of violence and instability.

CHPM urges the Canadian government to take leadership within the international community to find immediate and lasting solutions, in collaboration with credible Haitian organizations, to end the political crisis and resulting violence. Furthermore, it advocates for a new and transformative approach that marks a departure from past interventions. La Concertation believes that Haitians and their diaspora have the necessary tools for the emergence of a just, equal, and prosperous state in Haiti.

Dubbed the Montréal Approach, this initiative aims to address the development of Haiti’s provinces, local and territorial communities. This approach aims to counterbalance the concentration and centralization of its capital, Port-au-Prince. Additionally, it aims to improve schools and healthcare centres, as well as promote the development of Haiti’s economy, democracy, and good governance.

The Montréal Approach focuses on initiatives developed by the Haitian population and its diaspora in three key areas: humanitarian aid, development assistance, and peacebuilding. The recommended approach is postcolonial and focuses on projects proposed by Haitians and their diaspora, rather than a plan imposed by another state for Haiti.

On the cover photo, the haitian capital Port-au-Prince © Sylvie Corriveau/