Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 8, 2004
Canadian missionaries stay to tend to Haiti's poor
By ART BABYCH
Canadian Catholic News
Catholic missionaries from Canada are remaining in Haiti in the wake of violence that has killed scores of people and forced the departure of the country's president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
As of March 1, all 231 Canadian women and men religious from various congregations were still in the troubled nation, says the Canadian Religious Conference.
Father Hubert Hamelin of the Clerics of Saint Viator, which has kept in touch with the missionaries said the Canadian missionaries were remaining in Haiti to look after the needs of the poor.
Sister Therese Masson, superior of the Filles de Jesus with nine members serving in Haiti, said the order's policy is for the sisters to decide for themselves whether to stay.
Three Canadian forces C-130 Hercules aircraft sent to Haiti have been shuttling people to nearby Dominican Republic but only a few dozen people have used the service.
However, the violence in the country is believed to have prevented others from getting to the embassy in Port au Prince to be transported to the airport for evacuation.
The Canadian Religious Conference, which represents the leaders of Catholic men and women's religious congregations in Canada, is urging Canada to take a leadership role in restoring peace and democracy to Haiti.
"Canada's many links with Haiti give our country a moral obligation to act," said CRC president Sister Gisele Turcot, in a letter to Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham Feb. 25.
In its recommendations, the CRC called on Canada to urge the United Nations to assemble a peacekeeping force to restore order to Haiti; listen to the Haitian people and to proposals from the "peaceful opposition"; help in implementing a transitional government; make a commitment to provide financial and technical help for a future election; ensure that human rights are respected and provide humanitarian aid.