Michaelle Jean: UNESCO Special Envoy to Haiti

Janet Feldman
Posted June 25, 2010 from United States

Dear All,

Fantastic news abt Michaelle Jean, and note that she has a foundation now, focusing on helping youth through arts and creative media. I sense an Arts and Culture Subgroup partner :))))! Janet

Haiti is at the heart of Jean's new mission

By Tobi Cohen

With her term as governor-general slated to end in the fall, Michaelle Jean has enthusiastically agreed to become a United Nations special envoy to Haiti -- her beloved homeland devastated in a massive earthquake in January.

As a special envoy with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Jean's task will be to promote and seek donor funds for reconstruction efforts.

During her four-year posting -- which will take effect when her mandate as the Queen's representative in Canada ends on Sept. 27 -- she will help rebuild the country's heritage infrastructure and national education system.

"As special envoy, I will be encouraging the international community, all of the donor countries and their partners to make basic education, vocational training and higher education a priority and to work with the Haitian government and population to ensure sustainable and human development," she said in a statement released Tuesday, hours after the prime minister confirmed the posting.

"It is with great passion, conviction and enthusiasm that I have agreed to take on this important mission, which fits in perfectly with the people-to-people diplomacy I have practised throughout my term as governor-general of Canada."

That said, Jean assured she will "remain engaged" with her "fellow Canadians" through the Michaelle Jean Foundation, a new, Ottawa-based organization aimed at engaging youth, particularly those from underprivileged, rural and northern communities, through art and other creative media.

Sources in the Prime Minister's Office say Stephen Harper had been angling to get the prestigious post for Jean for some time.

Tuesday, he welcomed her appointment, calling it a "tribute to Canada's leadership role in rebuilding Haiti.

"As UNESCO special envoy to Haiti, Michaelle Jean will draw upon her unique experience and dedication to Haiti, as well as her commitment to educational and cultural initiatives," Harper said.

"She will be in a position to further advance the international community's response to the urgent needs in Haiti as it recovers from January's devastating earthquake."

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova further praised Jean's career-long commitment to press for freedom, dialogue between communities, equality of the sexes and economic development through education.

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