OUR STORIES | Barbara Pierre-Louis: “Ubuntu” and storytelling preserve untold histories

Barbara Pierre-Louis attended the “Ubuntu! Storytelling Across the Boundaries of Nation, Culture and Ethnicity,” a community conversation about migration, nation, identity, and race at South High School. The event was organized by Zenzele Isoke, a professor of Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies, and the Black Feminist Praxis Project Team.Dr. Pierre-Louis, a professor at Metropolitan State University, reflected on the importance of storytelling to her as a Haitian American in Minnesota. Storytelling is a way of preserving the stories and wisdom of her ancestors and black revolutionaries, such as Toussaint L’ouverture, the leader of the Haitian Revolution, she said. She also talked about the importance of libation, a ritual pouring of water as an offering to a spirit, as a way of celebrating those who have passed. Reporting for this article supported in part by Bush Foundation. Continue Reading

OUR STORIES | Beaudelaine Pierre takes lead on building the Haitian diaspora community in Minnesota

Meet Beaudelaine Pierre, a Haitian diasporan living in Minnesota who is working toward bringing the Haitian community in Minnesota together. She wants to create a more organized and unified Haitian diaspora in the Twin Cities, which is separated by both geography and internal struggles.Pierre is passionate about building relationships with other Haitians in Minnesota, and creating spaces for members of her diaspora community to support and learn about each other. Her ultimate goal is to help Haitians in Minnesota build themselves so that they can begin to help Haitians back home. But that cannot happen until the community here is strong, she said.Pierre currently works with women and immigrant communities as a coordinator in a leadership program for girls, and as women’s program coordinator for a non-profit called Women’s Initiative for Self-Empowerment (WISE). She also brings her lived experiences and expertise working in development, nonprofits and journalism in Haiti. So far, Pierre has helped convene two community meetings to discuss issues affecting the Haitian community in Minnesota. The first meeting was at the Minnesota Humanities center in November, and the second took place at the Wilder Foundation in mid-March. Continue Reading

Haiti, remembering eight years ago

About this time of year in 2002, Paul Miller and I met each other at a meeting, and we learned we lived in the same community.

Paul was already active in the cause of Justice for Haiti, and over the coming months he began to urge me to visit the island Republic with him. It took a while. Though I was a geography major, I needed to re-learn where Haiti was, and a little about it.

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Six months later after earthquake, Haiti-Minnesota sister parish visit

Six months after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake killed 200,000-300,000 people and destroyed much of the capital city of Port-au-Prince in the desperately poor nation of Haiti, Democracy Now and NPR are looking at the continuing devastation and evaluating international aid efforts (see sidebar). Here in Minnesota, two visiting Haitian priests are sharing information about their communities with sister parishes that had established ongoing relationships before the earthquake. 

Besides visiting St. Joseph the Worker Church, the priests will visit New Creation, St Peter Claver, Chaska Moravian Church, Basilica of Saint Mary, and Guardian Angel. Call Bonnie Steele at 763-425-6505×228 for events and times to hear from the visiting emissaries from Haiti. Bonnie Steele, a pastoral minister of St. Continue Reading

FREE SPEECH ZONE | Local Wedding Company Partners With Kids Against Hunger for Haiti Relief

ST. PAUL, MINN. February 25, 2010 – In times of crisis, Americans have always been more than willing to lend a helping hand to those in need. Now, a Twin Cities wedding service company and its artists are stepping up to the plate to bat for Haiti relief.  Bellagala is a local company based in Saint Paul that provides fourteen different wedding services all under one roof. Continue Reading

Haiti: Hope is on the way

It can fairly be said that the place called Haiti, and the people called Haitians, have been raped, looted and pillaged by my “civilized” world for the entire 518 year history since Christopher Columbus and his men landed there (in the vicinity of today’s Cap Haitien) in 1492. An excellent primer on this history for me was Dr. Continue Reading

FREE SPEECH ZONE | We are all to be blamed for Haiti

The tragedy unfolding in Haiti is a natural disaster which we could not have prevented. But, the destruction of its natural habitat before the earthquake, over-population and chronic poverty could have been prevented, or at least lessened in scope, by us.  We, the people of the world, especially the United States, bear a collective responsibility for this mess. We sat silent apathetically while trees were uprooted, vegetation trampled and environmental sustainability suffocated. We allowed the construction of unsafe dwellings to go on for decades while we devoted trillions of dollars to fund un-necessary wars. We let this former paradise to become a trash land and sub-human conditions there to linger on. Continue Reading