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Marie-Denise's Story

Time Code English Translation
0:00 – 0:20 When I think about my life in Haiti, and this is going back a few years, I had a life... I was in my twenties, so I had just finished university, and my life was simple and easy. I went to work, I had friends, I went out, I had family; my life was casual and carefree.
0:20 – 0:51 In the end, I didn't choose Canada; I think the choice was made for me. I had to leave under difficult circumstances. I left Haiti after being arrested arbitrarily, so it all happened very quickly and everything came crashing down fast, so after the arrest... I was already shaken by that experience. Then, I had to leave Port-au-Prince, and my parents, the network and political intervention were really the reason I left in a hurry.
0:51 – 1:18 I was arrested on the road. I was going to the beach with my boyfriend at the time, and there was a curfew, which we weren't aware of, so there were arbitrary arrests. And around the same time, a member of the army had been murdered. So, they wanted to make us take the blame for that murder, and once we were in the system... I remember that expression; when I was arrested with my boyfriend, Gérard, he said, "Now, you're going into the system."
1:19 – 1:46 When I came to Montréal, I was lucky enough to quickly become part of a network, first within the Haitian community, which welcomed me, and within the my family. My initial pied-à-terre was my family. So, I didn't have the immediate concerns of finding accommodation and a job. My cousins and aunt took me in... And I think that all of my emotional needs were met within the family, so I was very nurtured in that regard.
1:47 – 2:03 And then I applied for refugee status, so there was the more serious, legal aspect of going to a lawyer's office and preparing a case. So, I had painting, the legal aspect, the emotional side, and I gradually made a fresh start.
2:03 – 2:34 I came here because I had family here. But after more than twenty years, I can say that I'm happy to live in Canada, I'm happy to have been able to spend my adult life in Canada, I'm happy with the citizen mechanisms in which, I might say, I'm involved or I recognize myself, and I'm happy with my life. I think I have a satisfying life. With ups and downs, like everyone else, but I identify with the citizen mechanisms, the idea of citizenship and the values.
2:35 – 3:07 I hope that by sharing this story, people can perhaps get into the idea of a dialogue and especially the idea of curiosity about others. I often get the feeling that when they talk about other cultures, people tend to put others in boxes. There's the box for this culture, and there's the box for another culture. So, I hope that maybe it leads to some curiosity about meeting others, rather than the culture of the other, in all the multiplicity and diversity that exists in each little box.