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Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean to visit earthquake-ravaged hometown in Haiti - The Canadian Press, 2010

mardi 2 mars 2010 par William Toussaint

OTTAWA - The last time Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean visited Haiti, she wept to see the destruction wrought by vicious hurricanes on the country where she was born.

She will return to her birthplace next week but this time the scenes of devastation are bound to be infinitely worse as Haiti digs out from under the rubble of a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that levelled much of the country and claimed the lives of more than 200,000 people.

Jean plans to visit the poverty-stricken island nation March 8 and 9, travelling to the capital Port-au-Prince, the hard-hit town of Leogane and her ancestral hometown, Jacmel.

She then heads to Santo Domingo for a one-day state visit to the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti.

The trip is likely to be an emotion-packed one for Jean, whose adopted daughter was also born in Haiti.

She broke down during a news conference the day following the Jan. 12 quake, bemoaning that "fate (had) once again turned against the people of Haiti."

She tearfully appealed to Canadians to "show solidarity with the most vulnerable people in the Americas, our brothers and sisters in Haiti." And she delivered a message in Creole to Haitians, telling them "they are not alone."

Her candid, heart-on-her-sleeve appeal helped spark a flood of donations from Canadians to humanitarian and disaster relief organizations.

Jean last visited Haiti in January 2009, weeping quietly in a helicopter as she surveyed the damage from a series of hurricanes that had swept the country.

She nevertheless found cause for optimism during a visit to a Canadian-funded police station. Recounting some of her most traumatic childhood memories, when her father and mother were tortured in blood-spattered jail cells, she told Haitians their country had changed for the better.

She will likely find it hard to repeat that sentiment during next week’s visit.

The quake destroyed many public buildings, including the country’s parliament buildings, leaving the government on the verge of collapse.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited Port-au-Prince and Jacmel last month, pledging $12 million to help build a temporary home for the Haitian government.

Canadian Forces have taken the lead in providing medical care in the Jacmel region.

During her stay, Jean is to sleep aboard one of the Navy ships anchored off the port town.

News from ©The Canadian Press, 2010

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