Almost all Haitians are of African descent, and this country became the first country with a slave population to win freedom and independence from a European country after a slave rebellion.
However, periods of political instability made living in Haiti difficult, and in the 20th century the country was the poorest nation in the western hemisphere, thus one-fifth of its population fled the country.
Quebec and Haiti have had strong links for over 50 years, as Quebec missionaries arrived in Haiti in the 1940ies. They were followed by businessmen and tourists who painted a picture of Canada as an idyllic refuge.
Actually, there were few Haitians in Quebec before 1960, but those who came to Quebec integrated fairly easily into a society of French speaking professionals, as Quebec needed French-speaking doctors, teachers and professionals of all kind. These people chose Quebec for its language an culture.
The next wave, much larger, began in the 1970s, and most of these immigrants were unskilled refugees. In 1976, the Government of Quebec opened an office in Haiti that dealt mainly with immigration.
In fact, in the early 1990s, Haiti was one of the main sources of immigration to Quebec. Today, citizens of Haitian origin make up Quebec’s largest Caribbean community, and Haitian diaspora of Quebec is the world’s third largest, after those in Miami and New York City.
According to the official figures released by the Ministry of Immigration and Cultural Communities, Quebec’s Haitian community numbers were close to 75,000, in 2006 (according to the 2006 census).