HATIANS ROOTING FOR LES HABITANTS? HOW MONTREAL’S BECOME A HAVEN FOR HATIAN-CANADIANS

It’s hard to imagine two places more seemingly-different than Canada and Haiti.  One is the hockey capital of the world, enjoying—or at the very least enduring—flurries of winter snow and a place in the prestigious G20 economic group.  The other is a place bereft of hockey and snow alike, and in its place, a sun-drenched island which has faced environmental and political disasters in the past few decades, and while its people survive and its identity remains vibrant and distinct amidst the crowded cultural scene in the Caribbean, there’s no denying that economic opportunity can be hard to come by in Haiti.  That’s just one of many reasons which has forced something of a Haitian diaspora, and surprisingly enough, many Haitians find their way to the Great White North.

Surprising, that is, until you begin to look deeper, and see the reasons Montreal has become a haven for Haitians looking to immigrate to Canada.

 

SHARED FRANCO-CATHOLIC ROOTS

Top 10 Immigrants Montreal

While Haiti and Canada are separated by thousands of miles, the little island and the province of Quebec are united by at least two factors, namely, their strong ties to Francophone culture and, as a result, the Catholic Church.  Neither tie should come as any real surprise, as both Quebec and Haiti once belonged to the French during their imperial period.  Quebec has long had the reputation as being not just the most noticeable bastion of French culture in North America, but one of the most vibrant and popular centers of French culture outside France herself.  Haiti, meanwhile, was at one point a colony overseen by the French, and even after its famed revolution, it retained much in the way of French culture, including the language and, yes, Catholic beliefs.

Country of Birth Number Percentage of Immigrants in Montreal
Haiti 44,220 8.22%
Italy 42,845 7.96%
Algeria 33,270 6.18%
Morocco 28,820 5.35%
France 27,940 5.19%
Vietnam 18,745 3.48%
Lebanon 18,640 3.46%
Philippines 16,065 2.98%
Romania 11,005 2.04%
Mexico 9,355 1.74%
Portugal 8,940 1.66%
Colombia 7,445 1.38%
Peru 6,850 1.27%
El Salvador 6,380 1.19%
Poland 6,325 1.18%
Chile 6,325 0.74%
Hungary 2,090 0.39%

Source: StatsCan

These shared cultural touchstones can make the transition from Haiti to Quebec all the easier.  Montreal, in particular, stands out in this regard.

As such, if you live in Port-au-Prince and are looking for another Francophone city to travel to, you may want to consider Montreal.  It has some of the oldest and most prominent French and Catholic buildings and pieces of art in North America.  In this way, it can the transition easier—you’ll still be able to speak French and have a degree of cultural familiarity while likewise becoming accustomed to all the accoutrements of Canadian culture.

 

Economic Opportunity

To say Haiti has been struggling though some difficult economic times would be something of an understatement.  The small Caribbean island has been ravaged in the past few decades by everything from dictatorships and war to natural disasters—none of which are good for economic prosperity.  The Duvalier family ruled Haiti for decades following its independence, with disastrous results, and even with the coming of elections, coups and the nightmarish 2010 earthquake and tsunami which claimed the lives of anywhere from 100,000 to 316,000 lives. 

Top 10 Immigrants Quebec City

All of this is to say that, sadly, Haiti isn’t necessarily the best place for Haitians looking to get ahead economically.  It’s easy to construe economic advancement as greedy or a simple money grab, but currency is needed to buy food, to gain access to clean water, to send children to school and later college in a world where the wealth gap is increasing and the cost of education is already tragically prohibitive for many in even “comparatively-rich” countries, such as the US.

Country of Birth Number Percentage of Immigrants in Quebec City
France 4,800 17.63%
Colombia 2,450 9.00%
Morocco 1,255 4.61%
Algeria 1,105 4.06%
United States 825 3.03%
Mexico 615 2.26%
Haiti 610 2.24%
Romania 590 2.17%

Source: StatsCan

As a result, immigration to Canada is on the rise, where college is less expensive and both Anglo and Francophone culture is preeminent.  Immigrants from all over the world, from Northern Africa and the Middle East to Southeast Asia and Eastern Russia—and, yes, Haiti.  Immigrating to Montreal and finding a job in its growing economy may be one of the best options out there for Haitians looking for more economic opportunity.

 

Rising Population

Top 10 Immigrants Laval

The overall population of Haitian-Canadians has been on the rise for years, as tracked by both the 2006 and 2011 Canadian censuses.  What’s more, the overwhelming majority of Haitian Canadians live in Quebec—97%.  Of those, yet another great majority live in the Montreal area.

Country of Birth Number Percentage of Immigrants in Laval
Lebanon 10,955 11.34%
Haiti 10,155 10.51%
Greece 6,400 6.62%
Italy 5,995 6.20%
Morocco 5,030 5.20%
Algeria 4,585 4.74%
Romania 4,275 4.42%
France 3,285 3.40%
Portugal 2,910 3.01%
Egypt 2,240 2.32%
Colombia 1,445 1.50%
United States 1,350 1.40%
El Salvador 1,205 1.25%

As such, if you want to be part of this trend and live in one of the burgeoning areas of the Haitian Diaspora, Montreal might be the perfect place to make a fresh start.

 

IMMIGRANT-FRIENDLY HISTORY

Top 10 Immigrants Longueiul

Immigration can be challenging, to say the least.  After all, you’re leaving one home with the hope of finding another, and in cases such as this, you’re traveling thousands of miles to a new country, where the codes, customs, and—even with the Francophone similarities—culture may be different.  As such, you’re going to want to immigrate to a place that’s immigrant-friendly and has a history of being welcoming and non-hostile.  In this respect, Montreal is perfect.  From Italian and Spanish immigrants to American draft dodgers during the Vietnam War, Montreal has risen to the status of world city and done so in large part by making itself a haven for immigrants.  This, and the fact that 97% of Haitian-Canadians reside in Quebec, makes the greater Montreal area the perfect choice for Haitians immigrating to Canada.

Country of Birth Number Percentage of Immigrants in Longueiul
Haiti 3,205 9.57%
France 2,625 7.845
Morocco 2,120 6.33%
Algeria 1,815 5.42%
Colombia 1,325 3.96%
China 1,270 3.79%
Romania 1,160 3.46%
Afghanistan 945 2.82%
Chile 885 2.64%
Vietnam 830 2.48%

There are many reasons to consider immigration.  It may be that you want to pursue greater economic opportunity, either for yourself or for your family.  It may be that you want a fresh start in a new country.  It may be that your own country has been hit by natural disasters or is in the middle of political unrest.  Whatever the reason, immigration is one of the most powerful forces in this globalized world of ours.  Haitians have been all too familiar with the processes of immigration and emigration for centuries, so now, with Port-au-Prince experiencing difficulties, it may be time to consider a new home—and to that end, Montreal, home to 97% of Canada’s Haitians, may well help you and your family feel 100%, and ready for the fresh start you deserve.


Ask Questions

Do you have questions? Please fill in the form.

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Immigroup.com/news is independently run and does not seek editorial input from IMMIgroup Inc. The views of the authors of content on immigroup.com/news do not reflect the views of the consultants employed by IMMIgroup Inc.

"All images on immigroup.com are CC licensed, public domain or the work of IMMIgroup employees. If you see your image on immigroup.com and it has not been CC licensed, please contact us immediately at [email protected] so we can take it down."