Haitian creatives thrive in Minneapolis-St.Paul
Djenane Saint Juste teaching students about Haitian culture at Normandale Elementary in Edina, MN in 2019. Photo courtesy of Saint Juste

Djenane Saint Juste, a Port-au-Prince native, first considered moving to the Midwest from California when she learned that Minneapolis-St. Paul would tick off the boxes on her list for how she wanted to raise her child. Even better, the single mother heard she might be able to receive a scholarship for graduate school. 

What tipped her decision in favor, though, was a growing community of Haitian youngsters being adopted from Haiti. Turns out, the 2010 earthquake in Haiti had speeded up the process for a number of white Minnesotans adopting children from Haiti. Saint Juste reasoned that those children would see little diversity and miss their culture living in a Minnesota suburb. As a dancer and educator, she wanted to fill that gap.

Saint Juste followed through with her move with her son to the Midwest. She won a scholarship and graduated with a MAEd from the University of St. Thomas in Saint Paul.  


Minneapolis-St. Paul is home to a small group of Haitian artists who bring creativity to the area and their lives.

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J.O. Haselhoef is the author of “Give & Take: Doing Our Damnedest NOT to be Another Charity in Haiti.” She co-founded "Yonn Ede Lot" (One Helping Another), a nonprofit that partnered with volunteer groups in La Montagne ("Lamontay"), Haiti from 2007-2013. She writes and lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.