The Peace Tower on Parliament Hill is shown in Ottawa on April 12, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Montreal Haitian group urges Ottawa to speed up immigration files for quake victims

Montreal’s Haitian community is asking Ottawa to process immigration files more quickly for Haitians waiting to come to Canada, following a deadly earthquake that struck the country over the weekend.

The head of the Montreal-based community organization Maison d’Haïti says Ottawa should quickly approve the applications from people who had already started the immigration process.

Marjorie Villefranche said today in an interview the federal government should also allow more family reunification in the wake of the earthquake in the southwestern part of the country that has killed at least 1,297 people.

Villefranche says leaders of a Montreal-based crisis group formed in response to the quake are sending letters to Ottawa and Quebec, asking the governments to facilitate immigration to Canada and to grant permanent residency to Haitians who are already here but have a precarious immigration status.

Frantz Benjamin, a Quebec legislature member who is also part of the crisis group, says community leaders are working to get help to the Caribbean nation as well as to support people close to home.

Benjamin says a phone line is being put in place to offer support to Haitian Quebecers, many of whom are still struggling to process the trauma surrounding the devastating earthquake that hit the country in 2010.

He said that for now, he’s asking people to donate to humanitarian organizations like the Red Cross, but the group is also working with local Haitian associations to come up with a longer-term plan to rebuild the homes, schools and infrastructure that were destroyed in Saturday’s 7.2-magnitude earthquake.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 16, 2021.

The Canadian Press