________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 26 . . . . March 12, 2010


A Memory Forgotten...A Generation Sacrificed.

Martine Duviella (Writer & Director). Anne-Marie Rocher (Producer). Jacques Turgeon (Executive Producer).
Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada, 2007.
23 min., 50 sec., DVD, $99.95.
Order Number: 153E 9909 105.

Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up.

Review by Frank Loreto.

*** /4

Six years after the death of her father Jacques Duviella, filmmaker Martine Duviella wanted to further explore the militant past of her parents who had to leave Haiti for Canada. She knew that her father belonged to a group of Haitian intellectuals in Montreal who gathered for coffee and political discussions, but she wanted to follow his journey in Haiti and to Canada. A Memory Forgotten…… is a tribute to her father and an attempt to capture a piece of history that many seem to have forgotten.

     As a younger man, Jacques Duviella and others formed the Popular Youth League. This was an active group of university students who wanted to make Haiti a better place. However, when "Papa Doc" Duvalier took power in Haiti, all forms of association were prohibited as his reign of repression began. Students suddenly found that they no longer lived in a democracy and that they were under surveillance. For their own protection, meetings of three or more were to stop. However, Jacques held a meeting anyway, and, for that, he was taken by the police. He spent two months in a cell on death row in Fort Diamante prison.

     In order to end a student strike, Duvalier agreed to release a number of political prisoners. Jacques was one of those set free. After his release, Jacques went into hiding until he was able to escape to Canada, followed a few months later by his wife.

     Unfortunately, the Canadian government had good relations with Haiti. Duvalier was anti-communist, and so anyone who was against him must surely be Communist. The Duviellas were questioned by Canadian authorities who were convinced that they were sent to Canada as Communist infiltrators. They were given a "first class interrogation" with questions such as, "Who is bankrolling you? China? the Soviet Union? Cuba?" They were told that Canada does not "accept trouble-makers. We don't accept Communists." The RCMP and Immigration were set to send them back to Haiti, but René Levesque intervened, and the Duviellas were able to remain in Canada.

     Duviella made it his mission to tell the young Canadian-born Haitians of their history. The youth interviewed give examples of how they are treated here. In the reporting of a crime, the news often states that "A young Haitian committed a robbery." "It's always something bad," says one young man. A girl relates how she and her friends were not allowed on a city bus. The driver stated, "Nine Blacks can't get on the bus at once. Wait for the next bus. You aren't riding on mine." Knowing their history and how those like the Duviellas fought for what they believed should inspire the present generation to fight as well. However, none of the younger people interviewed see much point in fighting, and most see no hope for change in Haiti.

     A Memory Forgotten... is a fine tribute to Jacques Duviella and his cause. Told with narration and footage of the time, the film presents an aspect of both Haitian and Canadian history that, for the most part, goes unreported. There is applicability in classes dealing with Politics, History, Ethics and World Issues and should be required viewing for anyone with connections to Haiti.


Frank Loreto is a teacher-librarian at St. Thomas Aquinas Secondary School in Brampton, ON.

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