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A SPECIAL SECTION: Haiti, Since the January 12, 2010 Fierce Earthquake
The Mattapan/Greater Boston Technology Learning Center Charity Banquet

 Posted Tuesday, June 22, 2010        

Governor-General Jean, not jobless, after terms end  
By Agence FrancePresse  
OTTAWA - Governor General Michaelle Jean will serve as UNESCO special envoy to Haiti after her term as Canada's acting head of state and commander in chief ends in the fall, the government said Tuesday.

"She will be in a position to further advance the international community's response to the urgent needs in Haiti as it recovers from January's devastating earthquake," Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement.

"The appointment is also a tribute to Canada's leadership role in rebuilding Haiti," he said.

Canada's first black governor general, Jean was born in Port-au-Prince in 1957 and spent her childhood summers in Jacmel. She and her family fled Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier's regime when she was 11 years old.

Days after the catastrophic 7.0 magnitude earthquake on January 12, a visibly distraught Jean called on her former compatriots in a televised message in Creole to "stand firm."

"Like me, Haitian communities across Canada are heartbroken and overwhelmed by the magnitude of this catastrophe," said Jean.

"The images and news reports are unbearable to watch," she said. "So much distress, suffering and loss. We are also, of course, imagining the worst, situations no image can capture that only increase our feeling of helplessness."

But "we are a courageous people, stand firm," she added in a nod to Haitians in Canada and back home, unable to hold back tears.

Since moving to Canada with her family, Jean has visited Haiti as a journalist and collaborated on documentaries about Haiti and the expatriate community in Canada.

As the representative of the British throne in Canada, she returned to her country of birth in 2006 to attend the inauguration of Haiti's president, Rene Preval, and again last year when Haiti was still recovering from powerful storms.

Copyright © 2010 AFP
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