Canadian Armed Forces
The Canadian Armed Forces provided humanitarian aid in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake that crumbled parts of the island nation. Warrant Officer Christa Ethier was deployed and will never forget one of the little boys she met who was going to be adopted by a family in Montreal.
I wish, to this day, I wish I knew, you know, if his name was still Samuel. If I had a last name or something, just to see how, how he made out. That’s something… That little – That little boy, I’ll never forget.
All I can remember seeing was just rubble. It was a mess. Honestly, I remember just looking out the window as we were landing and thinking: “Wow! What are we going into?”
I arrived in Haiti four days after the earthquake had hit. We kind of set up shop in what was left of the airfield there. We were able to use part of it as kind of like a passenger terminal.
I think the only way to get in there was through that airfield at the time.
There was a few Canadian ran orphanages that were near us. There was a lot of adoptions happening at the time because there were a lot of children whose parents had died in the earthquake and they were primarily going to Quebec. So, we had a few helicopters land and take these children to the embassy in Port-au-Prince and then to Quebec to be adopted.
I think the Haitian children were scared for sure. There were quite a few broken legs and arms. They also weren’t really sure of what to do in the event of an earthquake. So, that was something that, a few of the Canadian military people had helped them with was evacuation, drills and stuff like that.
We were so tired and so just… I don’t know, so spent after being there for so long.
And these children came in and all of us were just like: “Give me a child.” We just wanted to play with these kids and stuff. So, that was a happy moment for us. It definitely boosted our morale to play with the kids and stuff.
Samuel was the little boy that I was photographed on a couple of newspapers with. He was 2 and a half, almost 3 at the time and he was adopted by a family in Montreal.
We had gotten him a “I love Canada” t-shirt. He had a little backpack. We filled it with all of our CARE Package stuff. So, like licorice, lollipops and stuff. We put all that in there.
He was really scared to get on the helicopter to go, but yeah, he was one that just liked to cuddle in and I think he just wanted to be held. He wanted to be hugged, he wanted to be up in your arms. And he was not scared to go with strangers at all. I think he just wanted a mom.
If Sam or any of those children that were in those orphanages were watching right now, I guess I would ask if they remember the Canadians that had come down there and were helping. I hope that they would.
Operation HAMLET was the Canadian Armed Forces’ participation in the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, commonly known by its French name, “Mission des Nations Unies pour la stabilisation en Haïti”, or the acronym MINUSTAH.
This operation ran from May 22, 2004, until October 15, 2017.