Local reaction to political instability and assassination in Haiti

Roby Joseph, a Haitian immigrant who has lived in Sudbury for almost a decade, is thinking and talking about home following the assassination this week of Jovenel Moïse, the island nation's president.

"Things are happening in Haiti (that) us the population … can't understand," Joseph said. "It's like people are controlling Haiti from the outside."

Joseph, the president of Sudbury's Haitian community and a restaurant owner, said the community has been keeping in touch about current events by using WhatsApp.

He said instability in Haiti is nothing new.

"The worry has been there for a while because we have … gang members," Joseph said. "(There's) kidnapping, killing people for no reason, and people have been saying most of those gang members have been attached to the government."

He said the president was a controversial man who had both supporters and enemies. As a result, reaction to what's been happening has been mixed.

"People that have never said anything on the phone were asking questions," Joseph said. "We're discussing … what happened and this is where different opinions come."

In North Bay, grocer Byron Jones has been helping with missionary work in Leogane, Haiti, for 25 years. He worries about his 32 staff.

"I contacted my contacts down there and said you know what? You better just hunker down, stay at home, keep everything closed," he said. "Who knows which way this will go? I know the local police and military are doing what they can."

He said the Haitian people were already having a tough time even before the assassination. Food prices have increased by roughly 800 per cent in the last few weeks, Jones said, and hunger is driving unrest in the nation.

"I'm hoping that the UN steps back in and the U.S. government because the country desperately needs hope," he said. "They don't have any natural resources, those resources were all stripped away."

The Canadian government has declared the situation volatile and is urging Canadians in the country to stay where they are and limit their travel.