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The Life of a Can-Haitian

Time 0:02:29


The Haitian civil war was raging during the years around my birth in Port-au-Prince in 1990. My mother was forced to place me in the care of an orphanage called the Rainbow of Love. I was blessed with the fortune of being adopted by 2 amazing parents. They also adopted another Haitian boy and girl so I had Haitian siblings and together we went to Canada.

Living in Canada was hard - it was like a fairy tale, but I was the strange beast from a faraway land that many people had only seen on TV or World Vision Magazines. Then, one summer, we went to a camp for families who had adopted kids from Haiti. Most of the parents were white and all the kids were black. It was exhilarating just to see so many families that looked like mine. I would ask the kids- Do people always ask to touch your hair? Do they stare at you? I found out it didn’t only happen to me, and we would laugh about it together. After the camp, it felt like a dream.

As I grew older, I found myself more interested in people from various cultural backgrounds. When I moved to Victoria I immediately got involved in working with immigrants. One day I was using the services of an immigration office I always attended when I noticed a new picture on the wall of one of the support workers and she told me it was from Haiti. I found out she got the picture from the exact orphanage that I was adopted from and was friends with the woman who ran it.

I started asking my parents more about why they adopted me and what they knew about Haiti. I came into the office more often to talk to the support worker, asking her more and more questions about Haiti. She said, hey, I know another boy who just moved here from Haiti with his family- you should meet. When I met him, I looked at him, and he was the most foreign person I had ever seen. I couldn’t understand him- his English wasn’t good at all. But we saw each other at the basketball court, and through the community we got to know each other better.

All of a sudden we were chilling every day. He tells me everything about Haiti- how it is now, how it was when he was a child, about black magic and voodoo dolls. He started teaching me how to speak creole. He pointed out things I do, my gestures, or the way I say things, that’s how a lot of people in Haiti acted. It made me feel like I was part of something else, a whole country like me was out there.

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