OBSTACLES, COMING TO CANADA
The second wave of Haitian immigrants were not received as warmly as their predecessors. They were mostly working class and perceived as a threat -- an invasion of cheap workers who would steal jobs away from Québeckers.(7)
Karl Lévêque worried about these new Haitian immigrants. Many were clustering into the taxi business, and there were many negative reactions, both publicly and privately. Some Québeckers were singling them out, accusing the Haitians of taking good jobs. Tensions were mounting, the presence of the Haitian community sparked hatred and racism as they tried to integrate into society.
Haitians were frequently denied apartments advertised for rent, being
told that "it was just rented." Shortly after the same apartment was rented
to the first white person who requested it.(8) Haitians' telephone
lines were sometimes cut off because the previous Haitian tenant had left
bills unpaid. The assumption was that all Haitians were incapable or unwilling
to pay their bills.(9)
Karl Lévêque became a militant who worked to bridge the differences of cultures and ease the transitions. He was the protector of his people. And despite the racist incidents, the Haitian community was able to adapt reasonably well, with the help of the church and the supports it set up.
Lévêque was among those who started the Haitian Christian Community Centre in 1972. It was designed to help with problems the Haitian community was experiencing in integrating, and in sorting out their immigration status. Many had come to Canada only with tourist visas and had to obtain permanent residency or face deportation. The Centre provided a resource and comfort in settling in, a place where the old world could meet the new.