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"Haitians...you are not alone"

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Malinda S. Smith, vice-president Equity Issues

This photo shows Haiti's Presidential Palace, which collapsed during the earthquake of Jan. 12. Photo courtesy M Eriksson on Flickr.

There is a saying in Haiti, Tonia Dyer tells us, “When the nose is hit, the eyes cry. You have to look at the ripple effect of something like this.” On Tuesday, 12 January 2010 the Republic of Haiti experienced a devastating 7.0 earthquake, which was followed by some 34 aftershocks. The quake has been categorized as a “catastrophe”   for the poorest country in the western hemisphere. Its people now face conditions characterized by “devastation and despair.” While a complete picture of the casualties is yet to be determined, we do know that this earthquake, which follows in the wake of three hurricanes in September 2008, already has had a devastating impact on the lives and livelihoods of the three million people who live in Port-au-Prince,  the capital city. It has destroyed or irreparably damaged much of the city’s infrastructure, including a major hospital, the Haitian Presidential Palace, the United Nations headquarters and the peacekeeping headquarters. For those of us in the humanities and social sciences community who are committed to engaged scholarship and to social justice and social wellbeing, this major ecological and humanitarian crisis in Haiti is a call to action. The Governor General of Canada, Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean,  spoke for many of us when she stated yesterday evening, “I would like all Haitians to know that they are not alone and that the people of Canada will respond to this emergency.” Malinda S. Smith is an associate professor of Political Science at the University of Alberta and vice-president Equity Issues for the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Malinda S. Smith, vice-president Equity Issues

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Equity Matters