With the questions and uncertainties that have plagued the Caribbean
island of Haiti for the last 5 decades; it is a refreshing site to see
one of its refugees rise from the ashes of poverty to acquire one of
the most prestigious positions in Canadian government.
Not only is Canada?s new Governor General Haitian, but she is also a woman. Michaelle Jean,
who also battled cancer and the inability to bear children, she became
the first black person and only the third woman to hold the position as
Head of State, a position designed to defend Canada?s sovereignty and
promote its national identity.
Along with the title of Governor General, Jean will also serve as
Canada?s Commander in Chief of Canadian forces. This position entitles
her to promote stability in times of emergency. Jean left the
history-rich island that became the first independent nation in the
Caribbean as an eleven-year-old to flee the Duvalier dictatorship. ?I
have come a long way,? Jean said at her introductory press conference.
?My ancestors were slaves, they fought for freedom. I was born in
Haiti, the poorest country in our hemisphere. I am a daughter of exiles
driven from their home by a dictatorial regime.?
Her appointment has the more than 100,000 Haitian immigrants and
descendants in Canada, as well as in the United States, rejoicing. She
stands as a symbol of the strength of Haitians, and what they can
achieve in multi-cultural nations like Canada and the United States.
?She is a reflection of that great quality of Canada, a country which focuses on equality of opportunity,? said Paul Martin, the
Canadian Prime Minister, who picked Jean for the position. Martin has
attracted controversy from those who claim Jean was simply a token or a
pawn, chosen to boost the slipping support of federalism and his
Liberal party in Quebec.
Her alleged, yet unproven, ties to the Quebecois, who are in favor
of receding from Canada, had many people believing she should not have
been in the running. However, she has pledged to be committed to
Canadian federalism. ?We must eliminate the specter of all solitudes
and promote solidarity among all the citizens who make up the Canada of
today,? said Jean in response to the detractors.
She also gave up her French dual citizenship, which she acquired
when she married Jean-Daniel Lafond. He along with their adopted
Haitian daughter Marie-Eden were present press conference that included
traditional ceremonies and performances by Canadian entertainers.
?I think she?s a strong example of how one can make so much out of so little and defy the odds to become something great?, said Joanne Mathieu ?07.
As she embarks on this journey she not only carries the hopes of
Canadians, but also those of proud Haitians all over the world. She?s
become a ray of light in a country that has seen its share of dark days.
the Senate?s Chamber, Their Excellencies the Right Honourable Micha?lle
Jean and Mr. Jean-Daniel Lafond sign the Government of Canada Golden
Book in the presence of The Honourable Dan Hays, Speaker of the Senate,
the Prime Minister Martin, Mrs. Martin and The Honourable Peter
Milliken, Speaker of the House of Commons. In addition, the Governor
General signs the proclamation marking her accession.