L’Asosyasyon Sent-Lisi Ay­iti cel­e­brates Haitian Flag Day

The Star (St. Lucia) - - COMMENT - By Faye-Chantelle Mon­de­sir

For the first time in Saint Lu­cia, the Haitian com­mu­nity proudly cel­e­brated its Haitian Flag Day, an event sim­i­lar to Saint Lu­cian In­de­pen­dence Day Cel­e­bra­tions. The suc­cess­ful event was hosted at the Bay Gar­dens Ho­tel on Wed­nes­day May 18th, 2016 with both Haitian Cre­ole and English demon­stra­tions of the coun­try’s his­tor­i­cal flag evo­lu­tion. Haitian Flag Day in Saint Lu­cia was the first of its kind for the Asosyasyon Sent-Lisi Ay­iti (Saint Lu­cia-nHaitian As­so­ci­a­tion), sig­ni­fy­ing a reignit­ing of sorts, af­ter the as­so­ci­a­tion hav­ing been dor­mant for a few years.

As part of the cel­e­bra­tions, speeches were de­liv­ered by for­mer CARICOM Am­bas­sador to Haiti, Earl Hunt­ley and act­ing Am­bas­sador June Soomer. Jointly, the two sit as the ad­vi­sors for the as­so­ci­a­tion’s board.

The ex­ec­u­tive com­prises Moris­son Blan­chard (Pres­i­dent), Ju­nior Cadette (Vice Pres­i­dent), Ge­orge Vic­torin (Trea­surer), Cecile Charles (Pub­lic Re­la­tions Of­fi­cer). Mem­ber­ship is open to both Haitians and Saint Lu­cians alike, with a pas­sion for the coun­try and its peo­ple.

L’Asosyasyon Sent-Lisi Ay­iti was founded in 2010 and, while it has been in ex­is­tence for 6 years, is now un­der­go­ing a re­vival. Last night’s event marked its pin­na­cle, with great plans to in­cor­po­rate res­i­dent Haitians seam­lessly into Saint Lu­cian so­ci­ety by dis­sem­i­nat­ing fears, myths and stig­mas at­tached to them through both lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional me­dia. As part of her ad­dress Am­bas­sador Soomer shared, “The image of Haiti which peo­ple have is quite dif­fer­ent to its real­ity. Haitians are an en­ter­pris­ing group of peo­ple and are hard work­ers. I have never yet seen a Haitian beg­ging.”

Col­lec­tively, the speak­ers who ad­dressed the au­di­ence spoke of their de­sires to not only elim­i­nate prej­u­dices and perceptions which have fil­tered into the minds and judg­ments of our peo­ple but also to make Saint Lu­cians re­al­ize that Haitians, like all na­tion­al­i­ties who choose to make Saint Lu­cia their home, have valu­able con­tri­bu­tions to make to­ward our so­ci­ety, eco­nom­i­cally through their labour and oth­er­wise.

While de­tailed en­coun­ters were re­layed, re­count­ing in­di­vid­ual ex­pe­ri­ences with var­i­ous groups of Haitians and within di­verse re­gions of the coun­try, all in at­ten­dance unan­i­mously agreed on the in­dis­putably rich Haitian cul­ture in­clud­ing dance, art forms and, of course, the fa­mous and highly ap­pre­ci­ated ‘kom­pas’ mu­sic.

‘Haitians are a very friendly, warm and lov­ing peo­ple’ was the key mes­sage con­veyed. The ‘voodoo’ or ‘vodou’ stigma ig­no­rantly ap­plied to all Haitians was dis­pelled, bring­ing home the fact that ‘it is but a re­li­gion prac­ticed ev­ery­where in the world, in­clud­ing right here on our own soil, within com­mu­ni­ties such as La­borie, Den­nery and Gros Islet’.

“Con­trary to what has been re­cently spo­ken about on po­lit­i­cal plat­forms, voodoo ex­ists right here in Saint Lu­cia; you don’t have to go as far as Haiti to find voodoo,” one speaker boldly ad­mit­ted.

PRO Cecile Charles told the STAR, “It is our aim to in­cul­cate the rich Haitian art into events such as our Arts show­cases, as was seen re­cently.

While Vice Pres­i­dent Ju­nior Cadette stated, “In re­gard to our long-term goals, we will be hav­ing Haitian artists and Saint Lu­cian artists, singers, dancers and painters at our launch in Novem­ber which will be open to the pub­lic.”

The launch is on Novem­ber 18th, 2016, cel­e­brated as the Vertiere Bat­tle (Bataille de Vertiere), the last great bat­tle of the Haitian Revolution.

From left to right: Earl Hunt­ley, Cecile Charles, Mor­ri­son Blan­chard (with mic), Ju­nior Cadette, Ge­orge Vic­torin.

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