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Community Consultations: Report of Activities and Outcomes

Multicultural Initiatives, Strategic Office
Library and Archives Canada
August 2006

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9. Haitian Community Consultation, Montréal, QC

9.1 Haitian Community in Montréal

Participants noted that there is a need for the Haitian community to learn more about the history of Canada as a means to help community members find their place in Canadian society. Similarly, participants wanted those both within and beyond the community to gain a better understanding of Haitian experiences.

Haitian organizations in Montréal currently provide youth and other members of the community an opportunity to learn Creole, the Haitian heritage language. To assist with this activity, members of the community said it was important to preserve Creole broadcasts from the local Haitian radio station.15 Teaching support is desired to assist with the overall objective of teaching and preserving the heritage language in the community.

9.2 Perspectives on Libraries and Archives

Many guests mentioned the importance of neighbourhood public libraries to the development of their community. The host library, Bibliothèque Parc-Extension, was cited as an example of an organization that provides valuable services in an area that is home to an increasing number of cultural communities.

Several service providers expressed regret over the disappearance of LAC's Multilingual Biblioservice program. They urged a similar program be instituted to help them access books and other materials for which they lack resources.

Participant service providers also saw a role for LAC to oversee a network by which resources or information about new resources might be shared in order to better serve communities. It was noted that because no single institution has the resources to do everything in this field, the sharing of information, services, and programs is essential. Large city libraries might be encouraged to share resources with smaller organizations. The notion that "cooperative reference services" might be offered through the network of libraries in Canada was also introduced. Those who work with Haitian and other communities in library settings urged an inventory of multicultural resources at Library and Archives Canada, with outcomes being made available to them.

Participant perspectives on archives were more general and focused on the role that archives might play in the preservation of community heritage and culture (particularly preservation of the Creole language).

9.3 Relationship with LAC

Participants supported the consultation mechanism and recommended that this consultation session be the first of many. It is by way of such sessions that community organizations and Library and Archives Canada can exchange information about the Haitian community, its needs as they relate to libraries and archives, and the LAC mandate. Guests recommended that follow-up meetings involve other potential partners (at all levels) if success is to be achieved.

It was also recommended that Library and Archives Canada target conference presentations and information kiosks to specific clientele: a kiosk or presentation about multicultural resources, among many others at annual conferences, has less impact than activities targeted specifically for service providers who are directly involved with cultural service provision (say, to the Haitian community).

9.4 Roles for LAC

Members of the Haitian community said they would like to have Library and Archives Canada's help in identifying resources in its collection that relate to the history of the Haitian community in order to facilitate their use by community researchers. Potential partnerships might be developed to meet this need. LAC was seen as a conduit for information between the community and the larger Canadian society.

The role of the institution was seen to be one of facilitator, ensuring access to published and archival documents which help communities to better understand themselves and others. Consultation participants said they would benefit from the compilation and distribution of publication lists highlighting Haitian authors and resources. These materials might be distributed more widely as a means to disseminate information about Haitian culture. Participants were also interested in having LAC exhibitions travel to their communities so that they might learn more about Canada and other Canadians.

9.5 Key Messages Emerging from the Haitian Community Consultation

  • The Haitian community would like to know more about Canadian history and society and would like other communities to learn something of Haitian-Canadian perspectives; Library and Archives Canada was viewed as a potential facilitator in this regard
  • Haitian participants desired to know more about the scope and role of LAC. For example, can the organization assist with the preservation of heritage languages (such as Creole)? Will the institution help the community to identify current Haitian holdings/items of relevance to the community? Might Library and Archives Canada circulate resource lists both within and beyond the community?
  • It was recommended that similar consultation sessions be held in future with the goal of facilitating partnerships; opportunities for feedback/exchange should be ongoing
  • Service providers seek resource and information-sharing tools to support collection development activities of interest to the Haitian community; they also seek opportunities for professional information exchange in regard to multicultural/multilingual collections and services

9.6 Connecting with the Haitian Community in Montréal

  • Travelling exhibitions might highlight collections of interest to the Haitian community; Canadiana exhibitions might also be taken into the community to foster community knowledge about Canada
  • The Library and Archives Canada Web site should be clear and simple to allow for easy navigation
  • Newsletters (including hard copy formats) might be used to promote LAC activities
  • Library and Archives Canada might circulate publication lists of items of interest to the Haitian community (say newly released titles published by Haitian and Haitian-Canadian authors); information about current Haitian holdings is also desirable
  • Further consultations are recommended

15. The radio station CJWI (AM 1610), identified as "CPAM Radio Union", serves the multicultural francophone community in Montréal with a substantial portion of programming for listeners from the Haitian community, including that in the Creole language.

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