Anglade family hoped to build better Haiti, and died in its rubble

MONTREAL - They spent their entire lives trying to build a better Haiti.

In the end, they died as their beloved homeland crumbled around them. Georges and Mireille Anglade, a Montreal husband and wife, are among four Canadians confirmed killed so far by Haiti's earthquake.

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They were remembered Thursday as passionate, intelligent people who worked to help the troubled country reach its potential.

Georges was a geography professor and accomplished author who was active in Haitian politics and who helped found the Universite du Quebec a Montreal in 1969.

He had been a political prisoner under the Duvalier regime, helped lead Haiti's democracy movement, served as public works minister in the Aristide government, wrote several books, and was an adviser to current president Rene Preval.

His wife was an economist who worked with the United Nations in Haiti and was actively involved in women's rights. In Montreal, she taught French.

But she had recently become president of a Haitian women's group and remained active in the country.

The Montreal couple was found buried in the rubble of the family compound in a suburb of Port-au-Prince on Wednesday after rescuers failed to get to them on time.

Georges Anglade, twice exiled from Haiti under its former dictatorship, lived and raised a family for 30 years in Quebec.

"His loss will be felt very deeply in both countries - he has passion for both places but he was very actively involved in Haiti over the last 20 years," Frantz Voltaire, Anglade's cousin, said in Montreal.

After a distinguished academic career, the couple had begun globetrotting and spending winters in Haiti. They arrived there Dec. 8 for what was their final trip.

Georges Anglade had most recently spent time writing and publishing lodyans - a predominantly Haitian literary genre that consists of short stories passed on orally.

He was expected to attend a writers conference in Haiti that was to have started on Thursday, Voltaire said.

"After his career as an academic, he'd immersed himself in the world of literature," said Voltaire who, luckily, had left Haiti just hours before the earthquake struck.

"He will be remembered as a thinker," Voltaire added.

Bernard Vachon, a retired professor who started with Anglade at UQAM, said his longtime friend will leave a mark on the academic community as well as the city's large Haitian population.

"He was really a humanist, he was very proud of his origins and he wanted to bring a real contribution to the culture and evolution of political and economic aspects of Haiti," Vachon said.

"After he retired, he was very concerned and returned many times a year to help there."

Anglade, who left Haiti to pursue his studies in France in 1965, settled in Montreal in 1969 in what he originally thought would be a short-term stay.

He was exiled from Haiti in 1974 after being jailed without charges, and vowed he wouldn't set foot in the country again until Jean-Claude (Baby Doc) Duvalier was no longer in charge.

The Montreal academic was true to his word, returning in 1986 to join the democracy movement. He became founder of the Haitian Movement of Solidarity, a pro-democracy group.

He would be exiled a second time in 1991, when a military dictatorship came into power, but would return in 1995 to play a prominent role in Haitian politics. He was appointed public works minister by president Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

"Someone with a democratic vision was needed - someone who can foresee the needs of the coming century," Anglade said in an interview at the time of his appointment.

He also served as adviser to Preval in 1996.

The couple is survived by two daughters - Dominique and Pascale - who grew up in Montreal.

Pascale Anglade said in an interview from Charlotte, N.C., that her parents did plenty of travelling, and it was hard to always know where they were.

But they made frequent stops to visit grandchildren in Montreal and North Carolina.

Pascale said she spent the holidays with her parents in Haiti, bringing her children there for the first time.

She said her father was committed to making a difference in his homeland.

"The political climate was such that they couldn't go back to Haiti in the 1970s," Pascale Anglade said.

"But they were committed to bringing about change there. They always remained positive."

Georges Anglade wrote a book in 2004 titled, "What If Haiti Declared War on the U.S.A.?"

It was a tongue-in-cheek exploration of how, just maybe, if Haiti were completely flattened, his beloved homeland might get a chance to rebuild itself from scratch.

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