Spotlight On CIDIHCA

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By Jean Jonassaint

Forty years ago, in 1983, on the initiative of Frantz Voltaire, at the time a lecturer at UQAM (Université du Québec à Montréal), with intellectual and financial support from a group of friends and young academics Haitians in Montreal, was created, the Centre International de Documentation et d’Information Haïtienne, Caribéenne et Afro-canadienne (International Center for Haitian, Caribbean and Afro-Canadian Documentation and Information), better known by its acronym, CIDIHCA. The first documentary fund of the new center was first and foremost constituted by Voltaire’s personal library, making it freely and freely available to Haitian and Quebec researchers interested in “Haitian affairs.”

Four decades later, this center, which aims to “develop knowledge about Haitian and Caribbean communities,” with national and international influence, is one of the oldest institutions of the Haitian diaspora in Canada, and undoubtedly the most prestigious. It is both a public library with some 28,000 titles, and an archive center which has, among other things, a photo library with some 20,000 photos, “the oldest of which date from 1869.”

Beyond preservation and conservation, the CIDIHCA is also a place of production and distribution of books and journals since 1986 with the publication of nearly 400 titles (in French, English, Spanish and Haitian Creole), the scope of which can be evaluated via the BAnQ catalog. Furthermore, since 1999, the center has also produced and broadcast documentary films, in particular those of its director, Frantz Voltaire.

“The Center is a privileged place for specialists, journalists, researchers and documentalists on Haiti and the Caribbean communities. The CIDIHCA is a welcoming structure allowing young academics to learn about research problems (supervisory function).” Here in this photo at the top of this page, we see young black Montreal university students visiting the CIDIHCA in the company of its founding director, Frantz Voltaire and its librarian, Mr. Tardieu.

Finally, for a pleasant visit of the CIDIHCA in images and sounds, see Mémoire haïtienne (Haitian Memory), a short documentary film by Berline Charles et al. (2023). 

Bonne lecture!

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