Diaspora

Norwalk's first Haitian Council member calls for national support – Thehour.com

FILE PHOTO: Norwalk’s first Haitian American Common Council member, Diana Revolus, is attending a Haitian women weekend in Washington, calling for national support.
NORWALK — As a first-generation American and the Common Council’s first Haitian American member, Diana Revolus is used to advocating for the city’s Black and Haitian communities.
This weekend, Revolus will flex her advocacy muscles in a new way, after being asked to attend the Haitian Ladies Network conference in Washington.
Dubbed the Haitian Ladies Weekend, the conference runs through Sunday and includes keynote speakers and sharing of Haitian culture, according to the network.
“I was asked to join. There is a group, a Haitian American women’s group, they are creating this empowering weekend for women all over the nation,” Revolus said. “I was called in as elected official to show a Haitian American woman in this position.”
Three intended takeaways from the weekend will be community as “women arrive seeking to build professional collaboration, gain supportive circles and strong desires to seek mentors and mentor others,” pride in and education of Haitian culture and empowerment as “women leave feeling a sense of their own power and a desire to continue leaning into this network of similarly minded sisters who share their drive,” according to the network.
In attending the conference, Revolus hopes to not only show other women the possibilities for Haitian Americans but share the efforts and results of her work in Norwalk.
“It’s a three-day weekend engrained with culture and speakers and music, but also conversation, mentorship and stakeholders in a place and space to get us wherever our lane is,” Revolus said. “If you work, if you’re a mother, how do we come together in creating a strong, sustainable situation to support not only Haitian American women but for my constituents, but for the cohorts throughout not only here, but abroad.”
Revolus said she hopes to leave the weekend convention with not only strengthened existing connections and the formation of new connections, but the reignition of generational mentorship and the start of passing a community engagement initiative along to the next generation.
“What I think we lost is that passing of the torch, that coming-of-age scenario it doesn’t just happen in your teens, it’s when you’re a young adult and an elder,” Revolus said. “Especially coming from maternity leave and being away a little bit, it’s a confirmation of what I’m doing now. I mentor a lot of girls and by happenstance they are all, besides my daughter, first generation Americans and what I do shows so much more for what they can do later on.”
Alongside her excitement and preparation for this weekend, Revolus is using the opportunity to raise awareness of the treatment of Haitian immigrants at the U.S. borders.
On Thursday, the National Haitian American Elected Officials Network, in partnership with Florida U.S. Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick and leaders of the Haitian Diaspora, held a national press conference to call for the U.S. government to aid Haiti.
Held in Orlando, the conference intended “to share immediate action the Biden Administration can take to assist the Republic of Haiti amidst its current crisis,” according to a NHAEON statement Revolus shared with Hearst Connecticut Media Group.
The conference called for President Joe Biden and his administration to address three key issues, including appointing a new Haitian American special envoy to the Republic of Haiti and supporting free, fair, transparent and inclusive elections in Haiti only after security and political conditions allow, as determined by the Haitian people, according to the statement.
The final request was to “encourage national dialogue with various entities to work on nation building and security; allow the people of Haiti to determine their political destiny by supporting consensus among civil society, political actors, religious and private sectors to create a society-led democratic government.”
With Haitian spread throughout the globe, and many residing in the United States and Canada, Revolus said it’s time the Haitian Americans and American government step up to help.
Both of Revolus’ parents emigrated from Haiti in the 1970s and 1980s, settling in Connecticut and founding community advocacy groups in Stamford.
Her father, fresh out of Haiti, started the Haitian Community Center in Stamford in the 1980s. Her mother, a teacher in Stamford, later started the city’s New Arrivals Program — a school initiative that helps students who have been in the United States for less than a year to learn English.
Now, Revolus said, it’s her turn to give back to the Haitian community in the country and state.
“When you free Haiti, you free the globe. In unity we are strong,”  Revolus said. “Not only is that going to happen this weekend — a lot of revolutions start with women — but can also go throughout, not only with the U.S. but in Norwalk.” 
Abigail Brone can be reached at abigail.brone@hearstmediact.com. 
I graduated with my master’s in journalism from Columbia University in 2020. I received a bachelor’s in journalism and English from the University of Connecticut in 2019. Before working for Hearst Connecticut Media Group I worked at the Journal Inquirer in Manchester, covering the towns of Enfield and Windsor. I have previously worked at the Hartford Courant, the Norwich Bulletin and the Republican-American. I love all things cats and Disney.

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