Haitian-Canadians commemorate 10 year anniversary of deadly earthquake

MONTREAL — Haitian Canadians are marking the 10th anniversary of a catastrophic earthquake that devastated Haiti.

Many gathered at a ceremony in Montreal to commemorate the more than 200,000 people who died and 300,000 who were injured in the magnitude 7.0 quake on Jan. 12, 2010.

Among them was 22-year-old Gael Stephenson Chancy, who was just a boy when the earthquake struck.

He and his family were living in Haiti at the time and decided to move to Canada shortly after.

Stephenson Chancy says he saw scores of wounded and dead people in the quake’s aftermath, and he decided that it was time for him to grow up.

The Maison d’Haiti community organization, which is leading the ceremony, has been holding a weekend of discussions, presentations and artistic performances to mark the anniversary of the tragedy.

Director Marjorie Villefranche says it’s important to remember the dead but also the living, who continue to grapple with the aftermath of the disaster.

Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne and International Development Minister Karina Gould have issued a statement paying tribute to the bravery and resilience of the Haitian people, and to those around the world who contributed to reconstruction.

They also highlighted the many Haitians who moved to Canada following the earthquake and who are leaving their mark on the country.

“As hard as rebuilding is, real lasting change is even harder to achieve,” the statement read.

“Yet those who remained and lived through the earthquake and reconstruction and who, today, still work hard for a better and peaceful Haiti remind us of what is good and show us that there is hope.”

There were over 165,000 people of Haitian origin living in Canada according to the 2016 census, the vast majority of them in Quebec.

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