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Haiti, Quebec, and the French Canadian Mission to Quisqueya (December 1937–January 1938): Perspectives from the Founder of the Montreal Botanical Garden, Brother Marie-Victorin

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Abstract

As part of an initiative to enhance cultural ties between Quebec and Haiti, Brother Marie-Victorin (founder of the Jardin Botanique de Montréal) led a French Canadian mission that visited Quisqueya (island home to Haiti and the Dominican Republic) between December 1937 and January 1938, less than four years after the end of the US occupation of Haiti (1915–1934). The mission's primary aim was to reinforce Quebec and Haiti's positions as important centers for "French Civilization" in the Americas. Through his travelogue and 305 photos, Brother Marie-Victorin created a detailed record of, for the most part, Haiti's plants and society. He greatly appreciated the vitality of Haiti, its people, and various aspects of its society; however, as a member of the Brothers of La Salle Catholic Congregation, he also held negative perceptions of Vodou. Brother Marie-Victorin's journal entries reflect a certain naïveté, as well as uninformed reflections on Haitian society's ethnic and racial structures that seem to indicate that he and the other members of his delegation failed to examine the importance of Haiti's African heritage, particularly in the post-occupation period of nation-(re)building. In spite of these failings, the mission succeeded in offering Brother Marie-Victorin an introduction to Caribbean plants and critical botanical information needed for the seven subsequent expeditions he made to Cuba between 1938 and 1944.

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Images floristiques portoricaines: El diario del viaje a Puerto Rico del Hermano Marie-Victorin
  • Ibid
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