bernard poulin

Quebec reaches out to the children of Haiti

In 2011, news of an orphanage that had lost everything overnight spread through Canada and prompted a wave of solidarity. Indeed, the people of Quebec mobilized themselves to give a second chance to the children who had so little to start with.

The Mirella and Lino Saputo Foundation, the Serge-Marcil Foundation, Bernard Poulin’s Groupe SMi, Léger Marketing and Vasco design, as well as a large number of Quebec National Assembly members have reached out to Father Lionel Dehoux, supplementing thousands of volunteers in order to complete the reconstruction of a Haitian orphanage. The non-profit organization Corporation des Œuvres du Père Dehoux also received financial support from the Carmand Normand Foundation, as well as from the Marie-Claire Academy parent’s association.

The Tragedy

On January 12th 2010 at 4:43 pm exactly, a tragic event hits Haiti. The island is shaken by an earthquake of a rare violence and the world will helplessly watch more than 300’000 lives being taken by the disaster. The most powerful earthquake that the poorest country of the Caribbean has ever experienced (7.3 magnitude) would be followed by troubling scenes of chaos and destruction.

Without water nor electricity, many survivors having to face recurrent aftershocks and overwhelmed emergency services, find themselves helpless and exposed to hunger and disease. Subsequently, the country would eventually experience looting and riots that would make further casualties.

In the small town of Etang-Rey, about forty orphans survived the tremors following the incredible and salutary decision of Father Dehoux, in charge of the orphanage, who asked the children and nuns to sleep outside. His hunch was proven right when the building collapsed under the terrified eyes of the children.

The solidarity of Bernard Poulin and his peers

What followed was an upsurge of solidarity from business and political leaders of Quebec. For instance, M. Bernard Poulin, founder of civil engineering firm Groupe SM, established and presided over a campaign called “Rebuilding Hope”, whose objective was to raise funds to rebuild Father Dehoux’s orphanage. It turns out M. Bernard Poulin was personally affected by the tragedy, since one of his colleagues, Serge Marcil, was one of the many casualties of the disaster.

Several associations joined forces to help the destroyed orphanage. This was the case of the “Corporation des oeuvres du Père Dehoux”, made up of former Montreal scouts and guides. It was also the case of the Serge Marcil Foundation, created by his widow, Christiane Pelchat.

Construction work started in October 2011 and ended exactly a year later. The inauguration of the new orphanage that would house the 42 orphans marked the beginning of a new life and newfound hope. The building was re-baptized La Maison Serge Marcil, in honor of Bernard Poulin’s engagement towards Haitians and deceased colleague.

The successful completion of this project was the result of extraordinary teamwork coordinated by Father Dehoux and Mrs Jeanne-d’Arc Léger who presides the Corporation. Father Dehoux also received funding from the Carmand Normand Foundation and the Marie-Claire Academy parent’s association. These funds will be dedicated to digging a well allowing the orphanage to secure quick and safe access to potable water.