Frantz Voltaire is the director of CIDIHCA, le Centre International de Documentation et d'Information Haïtienne, Caribéenne et Afro-canadienne (the International Centre of Haitian, Caribbean and Afro-Canadian Documentation and Information) a non-profit organization founded in Montreal in 1983. A retired professor and expert in Haitian history and the Africanness of the Americas and Caribbean, he taught sociology, political science, and social sciences in different universities (Quebec-Canada, Haiti, Chile and Mexico, among others). He has produced or collaborated on several works and documentaries about Haiti including ‘Protoprens se pam’ (1999) about the bicentenary of the town of Port-au-Prince and ‘Les Chemins de la mémoire’.
The CIDIHCA is one of those rare Francophone, Afro-Canadian reference organizations working in the field of research, arts and culture in Quebec’s metropolis.
Africanist and eminent educator, Frantz Voltaire is also an historian, political scientist, author and filmmaker who enjoys close relationships with many Afro-Canadian organizations. For example, he was a member in 1984 of the first board of directors of the well-renowned Festival Vues d’Afrique which was first conceived in his own offices. He was also chairman of the board of directors of the Nyata-Nyata dance troupe… and there have been plenty more besides.
When combined with his intellectual rigour and commitment, everything he brings to the table makes him the right man at the right time. His contribution to the leadership and governance of the Afromuseum will be considerable.
A consultant in museology and history, Jean-François Leclerc holds a Master’s degree in History and Museology. From 1996 to 2018, he ran the Centre d'histoire de Montréal (Montreal Historical Centre), the city’s institutional museum that he repositioned as the MEM, Centre des mémoires montréalaises (Memories of Montreal Centre). Jean-François Leclerc is a museologist recognised not only in Quebec but, also, abroad for his vision of the museum’s social role. He has introduced many innovative projects driven by the concept of ‘museology for the people’, namely, projects that are rooted in the value and importance of oral history and in the participation of the city’s population, including its immigrant communities.
Jean-François hopes that his long and successful commitment to the contemporary museum as a mobile, open, intercultural and community institution, will enrich the impact of the Afromuseum.
A graduate in business administration and financial planning, Claude Gagnon ran his own financial services consultancy for many years before immersing himself in social economics. President and founder of the Amis du parc La Fontaine, he has sat on numerous boards of directors of non-profit organizations active in the areas of art and Montreal’s cultural life. He balances his working life between administrative management and the advancement of artistic projects.
Claude is a humanist, painter, filmmaker and manager who is deeply involved in his community. His motto is: ‘The length of a single life is uncertain but it is up to us to give it width and depth.'
Social visionary and lover of numbers, Mariama Sow is a certified CPA, CMA member of Chartered Professional Accountants Canada. After working many years for a financial institution, she switched to the world of retail and, more recently, to the telecommunications sector. Her volunteer work with diverse communities and groups across the countrybears eloquent witness to her determination to see them thrive economically. She is the founder of the platform, Unknown Gems , which promotes entrepreneurs and enterprises emerging from Canada’s black communities. She also played a key role in REPAF, Réseau des Entrepreneurs et Professionnels Africains, (Network of African Entrepreneurs and Professionals) as VP Finance and board of directors’ member from 2016 and 2017.
She is all set to introduce her valuable skills, both professional and personal, to the work lying ahead for the Afromuseum’s Board of Directors.
Zab Maboungou, Compagne de l’Ordre des arts et des lettres du Québec, founder of the renowned Zab Maboungou/Compagnie Danse Nyata Nyata, a performing and choreographic artist, philosophy professor and author of the book Heya ! Poétique, historique et didactique de la danse africaine, has distinguished herself on all artistic and cultural action fronts. Her movement technique, lokéto, is innovative and has won the favour of those who want to perfect their understanding of dance. Nyata Nyata is the laureate of the first Montreal Art Council’s Cultural Diversity Award in Dance. A unique itinerary reflecting the aesthetic with great poetic power.
Zab Maboungou, Compagne de l’Ordre des arts et des lettres du Québec, founder of Zab Maboungou/Compagnie Danse Nyata Nyata, a performing and choreographic artist has distinguished herself on all artistic and cultural action fronts. A unique itinerary reflecting the aesthetic with great poetic power.
Two of Nikita Chigoho’s passions are entrepreneurship and Africa. She completed her studies in statistics in April 2020 and recently launched a beauty business based on natural products from Africa. Her keen interest in afro descendant communities led to her volunteering her time and skills to numerous organizations within the Montreal’s black community, such as the DESTA Black Youth Network (from 2017 and 2019) and the Réseau des Entrepreneurs et Professionnels Africains (REPAF)(Network of African Entrepreneurs and Professionals).
Nikita Chigoho is always looking for learning opportunities and new knowledge that will give her more tools with which to better serve her community. In order to effectively fulfil her mandate as part of the Afromuseum’s board of directors, Nikita undertook training at the Montreal Volunteer Bureau so as to be able to efficiently and productively participate at board meetings.
The Afromuseum is the brainchild of Guy Mushagalusa Chigoho who, since 2014, has been running l’Espace Mushagalusa, an art gallery and cultural centre dedicated to the promotion of African art collections and culture. This venue for the arts lies in the heart of downtown Montreal just a short walk away from centres of culture and learning.
Africa and its heritage have been present in Canada and Quebec for a long time. What has been missing is something that bears witness not only to its presence but, also, to its history, its vibrant, living culture and the remarkable people it has produced. The wait is now over: the Afromuseum will bring it all together and share the wealth with everyone.
To this end, the Afromuseum will be a living museum that is accessible, mobile and with a lot going on. A welcoming space, it will feature cultural and intercultural activities with research and reference opportunities. It will provide an online platform that researches, informs and shares discoveries while giving a voice to young afro descendants, as well as to all witnesses of Africanity in all its forms.