‘We are very happy’: Haiti en folie returns to all its splendor for the 16th edition

Beyond offering an opportunity for Haitians to celebrate their culture, the festival’s founder, Fabienne Colas, said it’s also an opportunity for other Quebecers to be exposed to it.

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After two years of adapted programming, Montreal’s Haïti en folie is back in full swing for a week of festivities starting Monday.

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More than 150 artists will gather for the largest festival of its kind outside of Haiti, complete with music, film, visual arts, literature, food and comedy, among other things, divided between online, indoor and outdoor venues, many of which will take place outdoors at Parc Lafontaine over the weekend.

“We are so relieved and so happy to finally be able to be outdoors again,” Fabienne Colas, founder and president of the festival, told the Montreal Gazette ahead of the festival’s 16th edition. “We’ve been waiting two years for this moment to happen, so this is fantastic.”

Despite the urge to go out again, Colas said some of this year’s offerings, notably movies and panel discussions, will still be available online. The festival typically draws about 100,000 people from across the Haitian diaspora, but more than a million tuned in online during the pandemic, Colas said.

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“That’s why we kept the component online, because a lot of people are all over the place and just can’t come here necessarily,” Colas said.

However, being outside again is “a dream come true”.

“In 2020, frankly, we couldn’t believe what the world had come to,” Colas said.

While Colas said all the acts, most of whom are Haitian, will draw crowds, some of the bigger names set to take part in the festival this year include Dany Laferrière, BélO, Kako, Corneille and Win Butler of Arcade Fire under the name of DJ Windows 98. , who will perform alongside Paul Beaubrun.

“They’re going to play a great DJ set with Haitian and Caribbean vibes,” said Colas.

As for the round tables, there is much anticipation surrounding the Innu poet and filmmaker Joséphine Bacon.

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“She is an icon in the indigenous community and we are going to talk about the similarities between the indigenous community and us Haitians,” Colas said. “Before slavery, in Haiti there were only indigenous people… we kept that indigenous spirit very much, and we are going to talk about literature, we are going to talk about community, we are going to talk about social issues. It’s going to be a great and beautiful conversation.”

Colas highlighted the traditional Rara parade on Saturday as one of the most anticipated parts of the festival. It is about a few musicians who start playing music in one place (in this case, the Rara Jazz music group in Parc des Compagnons-de-Saint-Laurent) and gather more and more people as they go through the streets. .

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“It’s the only show you don’t see, you just walk in,” says Fabienne Colas. Photo of Festival Haïti en folie

“It’s the only parade you don’t see, you just walk in,” Colas said. “It’s very simple: it’s not because of the locker room or anything, it’s because of the vibe. It’s because of what it symbolizes.”

In this case, it symbolizes the return to normality after two years of closure.

Beyond offering an opportunity for Haitians, who represent the largest black community in Montreal and Quebec, to celebrate their unique culture, Colas said Haïti en folie is also an opportunity for other Quebecers to be exposed to it.

“The more we understand each other the better, the more we can live better together,” he said. “To understand each other better we need to know each other better, and that is what the festival generates. A more cohesive Quebec, a more cohesive society, a more cohesive Montreal.

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“On top of the great music, on top of the great food, and on top of all the artists, the glitz and the glamour… there’s this notion of ‘wow, we can just laugh together, dance together, eat together and celebrate together.’ ”

The complete line-up of Haïti en folie can be found at montreal.haitianfolie.com.

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