The Student News Site of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student News Site of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student News Site of DePaul University

The DePaulia

Arcade Fire brings Haitian awareness to campus

 Whether you have stuck with them from the beginning, heard their song “Wake Up” in the film “Where the Wild Things Are,” or were shocked by their Album of the Year Grammy for “The Suburbs” in 2011, chances are you have heard of the band Arcade Fire. Between making music and winning awards, Arcade Fire and its members are activists for human rights.

Last Wednesday, Marika Anthony-Shaw, a member of Arcade Fire, spoke at DePaul about the band’s humanitarian outreach, particularly in Haiti with the group Partners In Health (PIH).

Regine Chassagne, a founding member of Arcade Fire, has familial ties to Haiti, and references her family in the band’s song about the country. PIH is a non-profit organization that seeks to get the community involved in one another’s well-being.

“They built their model on partnerships, and they partnered initially with the community by asking ‘What can we do? What do you need?'” said Anthony-Shaw. “They partnered with patients; they partnered with families, families who will go to the ends of the earth in search of health care for their loved ones. Families will do whatever it takes and Partners In Health will too.”

PIH works to train members of the community to become “accompagnateurs,” workers who help maintain the health and stability of other members of their community.

“‘Accompagnateur’ … really means that you accompany patients when they are sick,” said Anthony-Shaw. “They got the whole community involved in health.”

She explained that PIH gets everyone involved for the better.

“When I say they partner with local community, they actually are a local community,” said Anthony-Shaw. “They’re the second largest employer in Haiti currently.”

The Arcade Fire musician added that students can get involved with the mission too.

“One of the most important things is knowing that fundamental vision,” she said. “That idea that health is a human right, believing that people should not die of curable illnesses.”

Since 2006, Arcade Fire has been donating $1 for every ticket sold to PIH, and financial support is important. Anthony-Shaw also encouraged students to join DePaul’s GlobeMed club, whose branch works with an organization to provide help in Guatemala. She explained that being involved is really about having “continual support for the mission of social justice.”

In addition to working in Haiti, PIH works in countries like Peru, Russia and Rwanda. Anthony-Shaw has even done work in America, spending time with Navajo tribes.

“My mom’s an anthropologist, and she works with … Native-Canadians, so I grew up on a lot of reserves. There are a lot of similar issues here as there are there. There’s real poverty,” said Anthony-Shaw. “Just a month ago I actually went to the Navajo nation … Partners In Health recognizes that there’s poverty in our own backyard.”

She challenges students to find creative ways to push for social justice and human rights.

“Charge an extra dollar for cranberry juice or whatever you drink at parties,” she joked. “I challenge you to find a system of support toward social justice … Do what you’re best at and you can incorporate it into that.”

She added a warning that people should really look into what charities and groups they contribute to or work with to make sure that money or help is really going to the people where they need it.

“Bear in mind who is benefiting,” she said.

When asked what her hopes are for PIH in the future, Anthony-Shaw said, “Honestly, it’s that it doesn’t exist: It’s that we don’t need Partners In Health in 25 years.”

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