Michaelle Jean named la Francophonie leader

By Gerald V. Paul

Michaelle Jean
Michaelle Jean

The newly minted leader of the International Organization of la Francophonie  Michaelle Jean said its members must work closely together to ensure prosperity and stability.

Jean, former Canadian governor general and the first Caribbean-born person and woman to hold the title as secretary general of the 57-member organization, representing 270 million francophones spread over five continents, is stressing economic development alongside the cultural mandate.

“Even in the midst of poverty, exclusion and despair, there are dozens of women and men who are doing the impossible to bring about a visible improvement in their lives and in the lives of their communities. So our challenge here is finding ways to connect these two realities (alienation and community-building) rekindling that sense of hope, so that all citizens can work together to create a society in which everyone can thrive.” Jean, a recipient of the Black Business and Professional Association Harry Jerome Award told a BBPA gathering in 2007.

“Congratulations to the former governor general of Canada, Michaelle Jean, Haiti’s Honourary Consul General Dr. Eric Pierre told The Camera. “As you know, she was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti in 1957. And in 1968, she immigrated to Canada with her parents, one of thousands of families fleeing the dictatorial regime of Francois Duvalier. Emigration and the pain of being uprooted become part of her experience.”

The memory of her roots never left her. On Jan. 12, 2010, a terrible earthquake devastated the country of her birth, taking 300,000 lives. The outpouring of solidarity from Canada was unprecedented. She served as UNESCO Special Envoy for Haiti where she devoted her energy and powers of persuasion to support the post-earthquake reconstruction efforts and the will of Haitian people to end dependency on foreign aid.

She also worked for 10 years building a wide network of emergency shelters for battered women and their children, throughout Quebec and in other Canadian provinces.

A vocal proponent of  francophones, she showed so when she filled with vibrancy the role of Grand Temoin de la Francophonie at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, following a request by the Secretary General of the International Organization of La Francophonie, in 2010.

Pierre also revealed France elevated Jean to the dignified rank of the Grand Cross, the highest distinction granted by the order of the Legion of Honour.

Gerald V. Paul
Gerald V. Paul