Cambridge Commemorates Haitian Flag Day, Recognizes Sister City Relationship with Les Cayes, Haiti

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Cambridge Recognizes Haitian Flag Day and its Developing Sister City Relationship with Les Cayes, Haiti

On Monday, May 19, from 5:15 to 5:30 PM at City Hall, Cambridge Mayor David Maher will host a brief program recognizing Cambridge's Haitian connections and residents. Just before the regular City Council meeting begins, we commemorate Haitian Flag Day -- one of Haiti's major holidays, which will be observed on Sunday. This event will also celebrate the developing sister city relationship between Cambridge and Les Cayes, Haiti. There will be brief remarks from the Cambridge officials and a representative of the Haitian Consulate.

The January 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti had a very real impact on Cambridge, where many people from Haiti and of Haitian descent live and work. On January 11, 2010 – by coincidence, the eve of the earthquake – the Cambridge City Council adopted Policy Order 0-5: “That the City Manager appoint a committee to pursue the possibility of establishing a sister city relationship in Haiti.”

The Peace Commission, a department of the City of Cambridge having responsibility for establishing and maintaining Cambridge’s sister city relationships, developed a proposal to establish a Cambridge-Haiti Sister City Committee (the “Committee”) in response to the order. The Committee was established to develop and implement a strategy to build an assets-based, sustainable, long-term, sister city relationship between Cambridge and an appropriate city in Haiti. That Committee was appointed by the City Manager in January 2011 and began working with the Peace Commission.

During its initial meetings, the Committee identified three areas of potential support and collaboration with a sister city in Haiti:

• Public Health: short- and long-term support for public health initiatives, infrastructure and related ongoing efforts;
• Education and Youth: support for local efforts in Haiti, through schools and the arts, including materials, sponsorships and exchanges; and
• Infrastructure and the Environment: providing expertise and support to enhance and create public infrastructure and help reverse environmental degradation in and around the city and the surrounding area due to deforestation.

Over the course of two years, the Cambridge-Haiti Sister City Committee met regularly to discuss the various aspects of the proposed sister city relationship. Through that work, the Committee identified the City of Les Cayes in the Sud Département (the Southern Department – the equivalent of a state in the U.S.) as the most appropriate community. The Committee recognized that it needed to learn more about the situation, the possibilities, and the challenges of working in Haiti. To do that, the Committee invited academics, representatives of U.S. and Haiti-based nonprofit organizations, and medical personnel working in Haiti to brief the Committee on their efforts and experiences. The committee consulted with these professionals to gain perspective on a broad number of issues in Haiti.

These consultations led to a partnership with W.K. Kellogg Foundation, which funded the Cambridge-Haiti Sister City Committee’s fact-finding delegation to Haiti from May 23 through May 31, 2013. The delegation set out on a listening tour spending a week in Les Cayes. The focus of the trip was to meet with stakeholders, evaluate facilities, and begin the process of building relationships. The City Manager submitted his report on the Sister City Committee to the City Council on Monday, May 5 as part of his agenda, and the City Council voted to establish this relationship based on the recommendations of the Committee.

Committee members and consultants include:
• Donna Barry* (Former Director of Advocacy and Policy, Partners in Health, now at Center for American Progress)
• Brian Corr* (Executive Director, Cambridge Peace Commission, City of Cambridge)
• Linda Cundiff (Senior Director of Community Affairs, Cambridge Health Alliance)
• Renée C. Hamilton (Director, Malden Health Improvement Cambridge Health Alliance & Clinical Instructor, Tufts University School of Medicine)
• Sylvio Hyppolite* (Retired teacher, Graham and Parks School, now working for Partners in Health in Haiti)
• Claude-Alix Jacob* (Chief Public Health Officer, City of Cambridge)
• Dr. Marie-Louise Jean-Baptiste* (Physician, Cambridge Health Alliance)
• Jean Jeune* (Coordinator of Haitian Services, Cambridge Multiservice Center)
• Charlene Julien* (Faculty, Bunker Hill Community College)
• Muna Kangsen (Program & Outreach Coordinator, Cambridge Peace Commission)
• Karen Preval* (Office of the City Manager, City of Cambridge)
• Debra Wise* (Artistic Director, Underground Railway Theater, in residence at the Central Square Theater)
* Denotes an appointed member of the Cambridge-Haiti Sister City Committee 

The Cambridge Peace Commission promotes peace and social justice within Cambridge through building stronger connections and understanding among all aspects of the City. The Commission works with municipal agencies, communities of faith, nonprofit organizations, and the community as a whole to build connections and strengthen relationships, and to promote positive dialogue and foster understanding. The Commission works to ensure that differences and diversity are understood and celebrated, so that all residents can contribute to making Cambridge an equitable and peaceful community. It pays special attention to traumatic events and violence affecting Cambridge and its residents, coordinating and supporting compassionate community responses to support recover and healing. The Commission celebrates Cambridge residents and local efforts with recognition programs and events, and raises awareness about local and global peace and social justice issues through educational forums, discussions and presentations. It supports Cambridge’s Sister City relationships, including those with: Les Cayes, Haiti; San José Las Flores, El Salvador; and Yerevan, Armenia.
 

Page was last modified on 3/25/2019 8:41 PM
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