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Happy 4th of July to all Americans by birth or by choice, to all US residents, to all refugees and people with TPS living in America, and to all friends of the USA across the globe!!!

It was quite an honor to  meet President Barack Obama on his trip to Montreal on June 6th, 2017 where he delivered a true message of hope and unity. He reminded us that America is a nation of immigrants, that we need to embrace diversity and that women are key in the success of a country.

“Obama remains a beacon of hope in an uncertain world. He is among the greatest orators of his time. His message of optimism is the kick in the pants we all need when the gloom of recent global events gets us down, a reminder that if we just work together, anything as possible. Yes, we can, is the mantra that got Obama elected president. But it is also his legacy, which he has now shared with Montreal.” – Allison Hanes, The Montreal Gazette


Some of my favorite quotes from President Barack Obama during his Q&A in Montreal:

I believe we cannot unwind integration. I don’t think we can pull up a drawbridge. Openness to immigration is fundamental to who we are. You look around Montreal, you look at my hometown of Chicago, that’s who we are. It’s important for us to establish processes to make sure that we reaffirm that we are nations of immigrants, that it creates dynamism in our economies, strengthens us rather than weakens us and upholds our tradition of lawfulness.” – Barack Obama


“I did conclude at a certain point that if you just put women in charge of every country for just about two years, the world would make a huge leap forward and just be better off generally. And that’s why I do think you guys (women) are a little better.” – Barack Obama


The biggest determinant of how successful a country is, is reflected how they treat their women. The more woman are involve the better we are.” – Barack Obama.


“We’re in an environment where we are only accepting information that fits our opinions rather than basing our opinions on the facts that we receive — and evidence and reason and logic.” – Barack Obama


“We’re going to have to find a way to push back on propaganda and cultivate independent journalism and listen to those with whom we disagree, and work hard to find common ground — and that’s especially true for those of us who have had the privilege to serve in elected office.” – Barack Obama


“History also shows there is a better way, Canada shows, the United States, Europe, Japan show it is possible for us to overcome our fears and to reach across our divides.” – Barack Obama


On a personal note…

What a privilege to have finally met and talked to President Barack Obama, whom I have campaigned for, twice, as a proud Haitian-Canadian. It was an honor to have also been invited to President Obama’s table of honor. Quite an inspiring, historic and memorable evening for us all!

This meeting meant a lot to me and to our team at the Fabienne Colas Foundation. It reinforced our belief that all is possible if we only give it a try and put on the hard work. It encouraged us to continue to leverage the power of the arts for positive social change and strong economic impact in Canada, the USA, Haiti (where we hold festivals) and abroad.

I could not be happier to know that the 44th president of the United States and our Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau also discussed that day their shared commitment to developing the next generation of leaders. We are excited about the prospect of, one day, being able to share ideas, at some point, with the Obama Foundation about how we can get more young leaders to take decisive action in their communities.

A big coup by the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal who made all this possible. A way to celebrate Montreal’s 375th anniversary! MERCI President Obama on behalf of our team at all our festivals – Montreal International Black Film Festival, Festival Haiti en Folie in Montreal and New York City, Toronto Black Film Festival, Halifax Black Film Festival, Fade to Black Festival and Festival du Film Québécois en Haïti.