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Governor General's tearful return home

Michaelle Jean leaves Haiti after an emotional 2 day visit.
Michaelle Jean leaves Haiti after an emotional 2 day visit.
Canwest news service

Michaelle Jean is returning to Canada today after a heart-wrenching visit to quake-ravaged Haiti.

Jean returned to her place of birth for the first time since the devastating quake hit her home country.

She spent much of her two day visit touring the most devastated areas, and speaking to community leaders.

 Jean met with Canadian troops stationed in Haiti, thanking them for their compassion and their work.. She arrived by helicopter near a field hospital run by Canada's Disaster Assistance Response Team where more than 10,000 Haitians were treated. The hospital is now being taken down.

"You've made a lasting legacy. You made a difference," she told the soldiers. "Thank you so much, I'm so proud of you."

But the most emotional part of her visit was in her family's hometown of Jacmel where she heard stories of the hardships residents there continue to endure. 

"I have this big dream," Jean said. "There is a refurbished port to get goods in and out… There are extraordinary beaches. There are kilometres of white sandy beaches… If we could get ships back in here, to see the port of Jacmel rediscover its pride, to work with all its vigour. It would be extraordinary."

Throughout her visit though she seemed to be holding back  tears and putting on a brave face. 

He arrival Monday was met with great joy and a jubilant rally in Port-au-Prince.

 One of her main messages was about empowering women. Before leaving on her trip, Jean had posted an entry on her blog about how her mother had had the courage to take her kids and escape an abusive relationship. Jean's mother fled to Montreal where she raised her children in a tiny basement apartment. 

Spousal abuse is an enormous problem in Haiti. Jean spoke directly to the women of the country, telling them they deserved the respect of men and that the hopes of the nation rested on them.

After being serenaded by hundreds of women, Jean was greeted warmly by Nadeje Augustin, deputy mayor of Port-au-Prince. "I want to tell you: Walls fell. Many people are dead," Augustin said. "But we, the women of Haiti, are still here."

She ended her trip on Tuesday with an emotional walk through Jacmel.

"It's not about my pain, it's not about me mourning," she said. "It's about how do we engage in the reconstruction phase of the Haitian people."

As she left for the Dominican republic by helicopter, the enormity of what she had seen suddenly seemed to hit her. She broke down weeping within minutes of climbing aboard her flight.


  • Kyla Matton - Mtl Parenting & Ed Examiner 5 years ago

    You have a talent for personalizing these reports! It's a pleasure to read your articles :)

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