Tree Dedication to Haiti: Hope for Peace and Unity

Apr 04, 2023

Haitian Tree Dedication Red President Hibiscus for Peace and Unity in Haiti and the World.

Haitian Tree Dedication

From left to right:  Ketty St. Hubert, President of the Student Haitian Organization, Dr. Mike Allen, University President, Ginette Melchiorre, member of JEDI and whose niece was recently assassinated in Haiti, .and Dr. Phyllis Scott, JEDI Director. 


The Invocation by Karen Stalnaker, Director of campus Ministry

Invocation for Tree in Honor of the People of Haiti 

Gracious God and Source of all,  

we thank you for the gift of creation.  

Teach us to see You in every creature, leaf, and flower… 

We ask Your blessing on this tree, the hands that have planted it, and the hands that will nurture and tend it. 

And we especially ask for Your continued blessing on the people in whose honor and it has been planted… the people of Haiti…  

…We pray that You continue to hold the Haitian people – this people You love passionately - in Your Heart of Infinite Mercy… 

May the Haitian people, like this tree, grow and flower through changing seasons…  

And may Haiti’s sons and daughters living in diaspora be empowered to bring Haiti’s many gifts to the world, even as You inspire them to give back to the homeland, they so love... 

We make our prayer in Jesus’ Name and by the power of your life-giving Spirit. 




By Marsha Francois, Graduate Assistant, JEDI 

I seek peace, let me BE peace. Let me BE the tranquility I want. I want to be just; help me. Let me be kind as I seek a kind world. I want to live in a world where people are kind to one another. I want a world where people give and receive generously. I want to live in a giving world where everyone is giving. I want a world filled with love; help me to love beyond all logic and typical expectations. 

And let me be receptive to all the love that is already coming to me, including the love of the people I know, the love inherent in human nature, the accumulated love of previous generations that permeates and is embodied in the language, culture, music, recipes, technology, literature, religions, agriculture, and family heritages that have been passed down to me.  

Tree Dedication for Haiti 

History of Haiti by Ketty St. Hubert, Barry Student & President for the Haitian Student Organization on campus. 

Good Afternoon all, or should I say ‘’Bonjour tout moun’’ which translates to hello everyone in creole. My name is Ketty St. Hubert and I serve as the President for the Haitian Student Organization on campus. 

I must say this is an amazing way to start off Black History Month at Barry. It is a pleasure for me to stand here today and represent the very first black republic country to gain independence in the western hemisphere! Whew!!  

On behalf of all students at Barry and the faculty and staff I welcome you. 

On a spiritual level these flowers also symbolize divine feminine. Because of all these aspects, Hibiscus was voted the National flower symbol of Haiti. 

In 1492 Christopher Columbus from Spain, landed in Haiti finding the Taino’s tribe. The indigenous tribe was enslaved and once the nation was ceded to France in 1665, Haiti fell victim to the transatlantic slave trade. It is recorded that the average lifespan of a slave was 21 years and Haiti was one of the most brutal slave industries in the world.  

With nearly 800,000 slaves Haiti was very prosperous, producing 60 percent of the world’s coffee exports and 40 percent of sugar exported to Europe. Under France’s rule, Haiti became the wealthiest colony in the French empire. However, the oppression and severe brutality of slavery led to unrest and in 1804, Haiti, through battle, won independence from France. This independence, however, was carried with a devastating price…a price that will, over time, reveal the strength and determination of people.  

Today, we give honor to the ancestors and all generations thereafter that have survived the ruling of more than 40 leaders and economic corruption. Generations that had to pick up the pieces of their lives and mourn the deaths of their loved ones, after cyclones, tropical storms, hurricanes, torrential rains, floods, and even the 2010 earthquake that ravished the island. We give honor to those who are now suffering from the violence that threaten the lives of many, as we remember those who have lost their lives, including the niece of one of our own. We give honor to those who continue to risk their lives in the struggle for peace and unity.  

Today we acknowledged that through a turbulent history, our Haitian people stand with pride, hope, and determination. On this day, we stand with them. May the roots of this tree grow deep as the love of a people for its country and may it remind us that in unity, hope blossoms and justice will prevail. 

The Strength of its People 

Speech by Gabrielle Russell as a Barry Student 

I was asked today to speak about Haiti and what being a Haitian means to me. So what seemed to be an easy task, actually turned out to be difficult and somewhat daunting. How does one sum up how one feels about their heritage and home without selling it short? So, I did what most people would have done, I brainstormed. I thought about the country of Haiti. I thought about the beautiful island, the rich culture deeply embedded in the people who proudly call themselves Haitians, and most importantly I pondered on all the stories told to me by my grandfather. 

I was not born in Haiti, nor have I ever had the privilege to visit its beautiful land of vast mountains and valleys, but the spirit of the Haitian community is strong and alive in me. When I think of Haiti, I think of a country that has a community so fierce that no matter what happens its spirit remains unbroken. I am a first generation Haitian American and not a day goes by that I do not feel in touch with my island and the culture that surrounds it. Just like this tree Haiti’s roots run deep. As immigrants their strength and perseverance held them through adversities. Their 

love for family, faith, and culture fostered a tight knit and loving community where their admiration for food, music, and dance continues to be passed down through generations. 

So here I am, an American of Haitian descent speaking to what it means to be Haitian. It means to be proud, joyous, and prosperous. This Hibiscus Tree brings a slice of Haiti to our doorstep. It makes a place that takes just a little over 2 hours to get to, a few minutes from my class. It provides a token of comfort for all Haitian and all who love this community. It is a beacon of hope, because as long as this tree grows and blossoms, so does the community that it represents, and I am proud to say that I am a blossoming member of the Haitian Community. Thank you! 

In hope for peace and unity 

Closing Remarks by Ginette Melchiorre, Executive Assistant/Business & Finance Specialist & Member of JEDI  

On behalf of the Haitian community and everyone who lost family members and loved ones through gun violence, thank you for this symbolic gesture.  My deepest gratitude to President Allen, Dr. Scott and the Office of JEDI, Karen Stalnaker, Sue Rosenthal and the Division of Business and Finance, Raul Gonzalez, and the facilities team, Chartwells, ABM, the student organizations, and all attendees. 

This ceremony is a reminder of everlasting love and fight for peace, freedom, justice, and equality.  It is proof that we live Barry’s core commitments for social justice and collaborative service.  Planting this tree is ensuring that the legacy of those gone before us will continue through the roots, branches, and flowers. 

As we mourn victims of gun violence and kidnappings, including my Niece, Marie Lydie Duvivier, let us work toward making changes to prevent future loss and grief.  The greatest honor we can pay to the victims is to continue their service and struggle by giving voice to our opinions and beliefs, preserving life and freedom, and carefully voting and electing government officials who share our values and who are willing to shift laws, policies, and regulations to drive positive change to bring an end to this turmoil.  We must take collective responsibility in creating an environment honoring diverse perspectives; hold space for truly hearing and understanding each other; harness our collective strengths to cultivate peace, concern for others, and compassion for the oneness of humanity and our interconnectedness.   

May there be peace in celestial regions. May there be peace on earth. May the waters be appeasing. May herbs be wholesome and may trees and plants bring peace to all. 

Thank you. 

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