Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Michaelle Jean's next gig is a homecoming

Governor General Michaelle Jean hugs Maile Alphonse during her visit to Jacmel, Haiti last March. Ms. Alphonse lost her mother in the earthquake, who was the godmother of Ms. Jean's daughter Marie-Eden.

Paul Chiasson

It's safe to say that most Haitians in these parts likely have no idea that Michaëlle Jean, Canada's Governor-General, has been appointed as a United Nations special envoy to Haiti. But when the news finally filters down, people are going to be ecstatic. Portraits of her will be painted. Banners to congratulate her will be hung. I won't be surprised if a parade is staged.

Ms. Jean is worshipped like a goddess in Haiti. And in Jacmel, her childhood vacation city, the story of her rise to represent the monarchy in Canada is told over and over to school children like an aspirational fairy tale. In fact, since the earthquake, much of the population here has attributed the Canadian aid flowing into Haiti has Ms. Jean's doing, regardless of whether the project in question was truly related to her efforts.

I've had the benefit, in recent months, of seeing Ms. Jean up close in Haiti and speaking with her in Ottawa. On both occasions, she was her usual graceful, articulate self. In Haiti, however, something special seemed to come alight in her, and the pain she felt at having to leave the country at the end of her visit in March was obvious. As her helicopter lifted off in Jacmel, tears streamed down her face. In her, the earthquake ignited a reorientation toward the Haitian cause. Her dedication to improving the future of her birth country seems now to be at its most fierce. Although many Canadians will be sad to see her leave Rideau Hall, in this UN posting she has won a homecoming of sorts. I'd say it's a perfect fit.

Story continues below advertisement

P.S. Our hunt for Jackson via the folks at the tent city on Rue de la Comedie is starting to bear fruit ... albeit strange fruit. We had a phone call from him this morning to say that he's still living there, but just last night one of his friends from the camp assured us that he and his family had rather abruptly moved out. So we're in the midst of figuring out what's really going on. We're supposed to meet him Friday to get the real story.

Photo: Governor General Michaelle Jean hugs Maile Alphonse during her visit to Jacmel, Haiti last March. Ms. Alphonse lost her mother in the earthquake, who was the godmother of Ms. Jean's daughter Marie-Eden. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

Report an error Licensing Options
About the Author
Global food reporter

Before taking on the global food beat, Jessica reported extensively from Haiti to document the nation's recovery from a catastrophic earthquake that struck in January, 2010. The resulting multimedia series, Project Jacmel, won a National Newspaper Award. Jessica has also reported from Afghanistan. More

Comments

The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Thank you!

You are now subscribed to the newsletter at

You can unsubscribe from this newsletter or Globe promotions at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of the newsletter, or by emailing us at privacy@globeandmail.com.