Montreal’s Olympic Stadium has new tenants! Born and raised in Montreal, I have many fond memories of watching the Expos from the nose bleed section. Built to host the 1976 Summer Olympics it was revered for its “unique” architectural design but also loathed for that very reason and the astronomical cost to have it built. The stadium houses a very complicated legacy. Currently, it also houses hundreds of Haitians that have migrated to Canada from the United States seeking asylum.
On January 12, 2010, at 4:53 pm, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck 25 km southwest of Haiti’s capital city of Port-au-Prince. The quake destroyed 60% of government and administrative buildings, 80% of schools and 105,000 homes were destroyed and almost 190,000 badly damaged. The death toll was estimated at over 220,000 from the initial quake and many others died from untreated injuries and rising disease.
Shortly after the tragedy, 60,000 illegal Haitian immigrants living in the United States were given a Temporary Protected Status (TPS) by the Obama administration. This program would allow them to remain in the states until the conditions in Haiti improve. Bear in mind that the TPS was always meant to be temporary.
January 22, 2018 is the expiration date of the TPS as deemed by the current administration in the United States. Haitians enrolled in the Temporary Protected Status program are to be deported back to Haiti. The lives that were rebuilt in the United States after the earthquake would have to be restarted again in a country still recovering. Like a rigged game of Snakes and Ladders, maintaining or getting ahead is exponentially harder.
Montreal has always had a thriving Haitian community. Although Creole in the official language in Haiti, French is mandatory in the school system. Therefore, it was not all that surprising that the Haitians living in the United States would see Montreal as a safe harbour. Thousands have already entered Canada with hundreds arriving daily seeking asylum as refugees.
Olympic Stadium was originally built to host the 1976 Summer Olympics that was closely watched by the world. 41 years later, the world is still watching.
-Gregory Bourne, System Support Associate, Toronto, Ontario, August 17, 2017
Temporary Protected Status Designated Country: Haiti (2017, May 24).
Haiti earthquake of 2010 (2017, June 28)
Banerjee, S (2017, August 02, 2017). Montreal’s Olympic Stadium to be used as shelter for asylum seekers. Retrieved from https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/montreals-olympic-stadium-to-be-used-as-shelter-for-asylum-seekers/article35862056/