Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Bringing her sewing skills to those in need

Mireille Roy teaches woman and children how to sew in Haiti.

The Gift: Creating a sewing program in Haiti

The Reason: To help women learn a trade

When Mireille Roy retired from her administrative job at Ottawa's Saint-Vincent Hospital eight years ago she figured she would relax, read and maybe travel. But then her brother asked her if she wanted to join him and his girlfriend on a trip to Haiti to do some volunteer work.

Story continues below advertisement

"They said to me, 'What about coming to teach people how to sew?" Ms. Roy recalled from her house in Gatineau, Que. "I love sewing, I have always loved sewing."

Although she had never travelled much at all, Ms. Roy agreed to go and she spent two weeks in Haiti that year teaching women to sew. She decided to keep going back. "I loved the women I worked with," she said.

Today Ms. Roy runs two sewing groups, instructing about 50 women on how to make curtains, table cloths, aprons, cotton shopping bags and bedding. The women sell the products for badly needed family income. She also manages a weekly program for about 55 children, offering sewing, woodworking and recreational activities.

This year while working with a Quebec-based charity, La Fondation Les Artisans de Paix Internationale, Ms. Roy has been raising money to build a women's art and trade pavilion to act as a permanent home for the sewing program. She hopes to have it completed in the next few months.

Ms. Roy, 69, travels to Haiti twice a year and spends the rest of her time raising money and keeping up with her two children and four grandchildren. "I thought I was a good person, but I'm better now," she said. "I really am."

Story continues below advertisement

Report an error Licensing Options
About the Author
European Correspondent

Paul Waldie has been an award-winning journalist with The Globe and Mail for more than 10 years. He has won three National Newspaper Awards for business coverage and been nominated for a Michener Award for meritorious public service journalism. He has also won a Sports Media Canada award for sports writing and authored a best-selling biography of the McCain family. More


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