Connecting the dots between Haiti’s revolutionary past and Toronto’s Simcoe Day

Connecting the dots between Haiti’s revolutionary past and Toronto’s Simcoe Day

In Ontario, the first Monday in August is Simcoe Day, a civic holiday named after John Graves Simcoe — Upper Canada’s first lieutenant governor. Simcoe is well-known for passing an anti-slavery law that set the stage for the abolition of slavery in Canada.

He also shares a historical connection with Haiti.

John Graves Simcoe found himself in Haiti (called Saint-Domingue back then) in January 1797, when the British stationed him there in a bid to take over the island. His escapade didn’t last very long. After six months, he returned to Canada defeated by the revolutionary forces — and the “climate” (so he said).

The Brisith surrendered not too long after Simcoe’s return. They gave up the fight in 1798 and negotiated a peace treaty with Toussaint L’Ouverture, the leader of the Haitian revolution.

Photo: Wikipedia

 

Head shot of Michaëlle Jean. Image source: Carleton University

 

Michaëlle Jean reinvented the image of  a Canadian Governor-General. During her tenure, she represented a contemporary image of  Haitians and Canadians alike – poised, rooted , accomplished and deeply personable.

A trailblazing figure in many respects, Michaëlle Jean is a philanthropist, activist and award-winning journalist.

As she so aptly put it in her installation speech, “The time of the “two solitudes” that for too long described the character of this country is past. The narrow notion of “every person for himself” does not belong in today’s world, which demands that we learn to see beyond our wounds, beyond our differences for the good of all.”

Tirelessly devoted to community-building and empowerment, she founded the Michaëlle Jean Foundation, an organization that invests in young, creative people so they can be catalysts for change and revitalization in their communities.

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Photo: Michaëlle Jean.
Source: Carleton University