“We want to do whatever we can to help,” said Edmonton Eskimo offensive guard Kelly Bates. “As a teacher, I’ve learned that I often take as much from a learning experience as I give and I expect this situation will be the same. We’re eager to learn how we can help and to do whatever we can to show Haitians that they haven’t been forgotten.”
Bates, Graeme Bell and Aaron Fiacconi of the Edmonton Eskimos, as well as Yvenson Bernard and Chris Cvetkovic , both of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Obed Cetoute of the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Jason Jimenez of the Hamilton Ti-Cats will join together for the “Huddle for Haiti.”
Cetoute and Bernard both have roots in Haiti. After the earthquake, Bernard spent six weeks there assisting his family and their local community in rebuilding efforts. His family will play host to the team while in Port-au-Prince.
“I traveled to Haiti last March to assist in relief, and the conditions are unfathomable,” Bernard said. “I’m desperate to give Haitians hope, and any relief possible in this devastating situation. Keeping people continually aware of the horrible situation and conditions in Haiti is my main goal.”
“Canadians overwhelmingly demonstrated their care and concern for Haitians in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake and this trip is a symbol of Canadians’ continued commitment to help Haiti rebuild,” said Robert Fox, executive director of Oxfam Canada. “With hundreds of thousands of people still living in tents and a cholera outbreak placing further stress on the Haitian people, these kinds of demonstrations of support are all the more important.”
“The CFLPA is grateful for the opportunity to work with Oxfam, an organization with an outstanding international reputation for humanitarianism,” said CFL Player Association president Stu Laird.
“Our members will gain a ground level understanding of the hardships and devastation that Haitians have endured,” he said. “These players demonstrate the giving spirit that has is so often associated with playing in the CFL. It is our hope that these contributions will bring further attention and support to the people of Haiti and other people in need around the world.”
The team will fly courtesy of WestJet, which has been donating air travel to volunteers working in Haiti since the earthquake rocked the capital city nearly a year ago.
“Some 10 months later, the enormity of this human tragedy is still revealing itself,” said Richard Bartrem, WestJet Vice-President, Communications and Community Relations. "In addition to donating $100,000 to the Canadian Red Cross – plus another $90,000 from individual WestJetters to various supporting charities and organizations – we also flew a rescue flight shortly after the earthquake and have since provided more than 500 one-way flights for relief workers and other volunteers as part of our ongoing commitment to support the reconstruction efforts in Haiti. Our support of Huddle for Haiti is a natural extension of this commitment."
On Jan. 12, 2010, a 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck near Port-au-Prince, killing an estimated 222,570 people and injuring more than 300,000 others. It was the worst quake to hit the country in more than 200 years and reduced much of the capital to rubble.
Since then, Oxfam has provided clean drinking water and sanitation facilities to more than 317,000 displaced people, helped construct more than 2,200 latrines, provided 98,000 people with emergency shelter, distributed hygiene kits containing personal-care items like soap, shampoo and towels to 120,000 people and assisted 134,000 people through our cash-for-work programs.