The KANPE Foundation: a story of a shared love for Haiti

In 2010, Régine Chassagne and Dominique Anglade, two Canadians of Haitian origin, decided to create KANPE (to stand up in Haitian Creole), a foundation to support the most disadvantaged in Haiti. Although they knew each other as children, their paths diverged in their teens. However, their love for Haiti and their desire to make a positive impact would bring them together again.

Régine has always been interested in the culture and history of Haiti. When she had her first success with Arcade Fire, the band she co-founded, she knew she wanted to use her newfound fame to help Haiti. While searching for the best organizations on the ground, she came across the book “Mountains Beyond Mountains.” It tells the life and work of Dr. Paul Farmer, a renowned physician and founder of Partners in Health, an organization that has been working since 1985 to provide quality care to the most disadvantaged communities through a social justice lens. This reading was to be a turning point in her life. Régine contacted Dr. Farmer and a relationship was established with Arcade Fire. As early as 2005, the group began raising funds for the organization.

In 2008, Régine visited Haiti for the first time with Dr. Farmer. The trip opened her eyes to the lack of resources and opportunities faced by many Haitians, especially those in the Central Plateau. She knew she had to do more to help.

Back in Montreal, she reconnected with her childhood friend Dominique Anglade, an accomplished businesswoman who had worked for multinational companies in Canada and the United States. Dominique was also socially involved in Canada, particularly in Quebec,  in the field of economic development.

Régine told her about Partners In Health, and Dominique in turn introduced her to Fonkoze, Haiti’s largest microcredit organization. When Régine mentioned Fonkoze to representatives from Partners In Health, they responded enthusiastically that their organizations already knew each other. Not only had they been trying for years to work together, but they were both looking for a way to carry out joint projects. In August 2009, the two women met with representatives from Partners In Health and Fonkoze in Montreal. With their expertise on the ground, a strategy was developed so that Quebec and the rest of Canada could contribute to the great work already being done in Haiti. This is how the KANPE Foundation was born.

With the support of friends from the Haitian diaspora, and after consulting with leaders, local experts, and organizations that had been working in Haiti for several decades, they chose Baille Tourible, a small community located in the rugged mountains of the Central Plateau, for the establishment of the foundation.

The organization’s deployment procedures were well underway when on January 12, 2010, a terrible earthquake struck Haiti, causing the loss of Dominique’s two parents, two pillars of the Haitian diaspora, as well as her uncle and cousin. They decided to redouble their efforts, especially as a cholera epidemic followed later that year.

Their first project targeted the cholera epidemic that was raging in the region. Then programs were introduced using an integrated and holistic approach, as the community faced many other challenges, having been impoverished for decades and lacking basic services, like many other rural communities in Haiti.

In doing so, KANPE has deployed an approach based on six pillars (health, agroforestry, education, leadership, entrepreneurship, and infrastructure strengthening) to help the community move towards autonomy by supporting their projects. For more than 10 years, the Foundation has been working with top local organizations and local talent with the help of large and small donors who believe in the foundation’s mission, launched with passion and heart, and whose results are extraordinary to date. The foundation has also set itself the goal of changing the narrative and perception of Haiti by highlighting its successes and the richness of its culture, which are too often forgotten.

Today, the community of Baille Tourible, where KANPE is firmly established, has access to essential health services, free education, and innovative agroforestry projects. A young and ambitious generation, of which a large portion are women, is committed to continuing the transformation work that began over a decade ago. Their pride is manifested in the celebrations accompanied by the local marching band created by the youth, a source of local pride and a symbol of their dynamism.

Régine and Dominique’s story with KANPE is an inspiration to us all. It shows that social change is possible when we work hand in hand towards a common goal. Haiti is a country that has given much to the world through its culture and its role in history. It deserves our solidarity. Let’s work together to help change the lives of people everywhere and create a more prosperous future for all.

© The Kanpe Foundation. KANPE ™ is a registrated trademark of The Kanpe Foundation, Inc.