The Haitian Students’ Association of Concordia (HSAC) held a thrift shop event in the atrium of Concordia University’s Webster Library on Feb. 19.
HSAC members sold donated clothes to Concordia students and raised almost $600 for the Institution Mixte les Frères Nau de Bayonnais, a school in Gonaïve, Haiti, where Concordia students teach STEM classes every summer with student organization Katalis.
“We collected clothes and we’re reselling them at really affordable prices so that people can find something nice and wear it,” said Harvin Hilaire, president of HSAC, “but at the same time we’re using the money to help a good cause in Haiti.”
As students around him browsed through the racks and stacks of donated clothes, Hilaire explained that HSAC’s goal is to represent Concordia’s Haitian students and to provide a space where they can get together to talk.
He explained that HSAC regularly organizes events where Haitian students can meet, such as documentary screenings and icebreaker evenings. Hilaire also said the thrift shop event was part of HSAC’s push to go beyond Concordia and Montreal by helping people in Haiti as well.
“We’re in a university where there’s a lot of diversity, so sometimes people can get lost in it,” Hilaire said. “We have our office, suite K-202 at 2150 Bishop St., and we have get-togethers where people can come and talk. We make it homey for them.”
The student group was officialized in 2018 with the help of former HSAC president Andrew Denis after a 10-year hiatus.
“When I joined as VP External last year, I realized the organization had just started and it was really small, so it really became a mission of trying to get as many people to join the Concordian Haitian community,” Hilaire said.
The event was also an opportunity for members of the association to get signatures for a petition attempting to reinstate a Haitian history class that was removed from Concordia’s course calendar. Many of the students who attended the thrift shop added their names to the petition, which now has 100 signatures.
“We’re trying to show the university that we have a body of students who are interested in taking this class,” said Denis, who was helping at the event. “We want it to be re-added into the system and we want it to be taught by a person of colour or a Haitian individual.”
Hilaire said that HSAC is organizing four more events before the end of the year, including the Paint and Sip event, a collaboration between several black student associations at Concordia, which took place on Feb. 21.
“After that, we will be having our traditional Haitian drum event, called Tam Tam in Creole,” Hilaire said. He also mentioned there will be an exclusive, invite-only event to look out for, as well as HSAC elections before the end of the year.
Hilaire said that HSAC is also working on obtaining a scholarship for Haitian students at Concordia, but that it is still in early stages.
Photos by Clara Gepner