Written by Hulya Miclisse-Polat
When we think of the Haitian Revolution and the events that ultimately led to our freedom, many times we point to our founding fathers: Toussaint L’Ouverture, Jean Jacques Dessalines, Alexandre Pétion, and Henri Christophe. But the revolution could not have been successful without the brave women who not only fought alongside the men, but also trained warriors, nursed, led Vodou ceremonies, and more.
They were instrumental at every level. One of these eminent women is indeed Catherine Flon. It is imperative to highlight the importance of Catherine Flon in the eyes of Haitian society because it is she who sewed the flag of Haiti on May 18, 1803. This act symbolized the identity and history of the Haitian people.
As we celebrate Haitian Heritage Month, let us learn a little more about Catherine Flon and the history of the creation of the Haitian Flag:
There is not much specific information about her Catherine Flon’s early life, but she was probably born in the middle of the 18th century in Arcahaie, Haiti. It is said that she developed early on a passion for sewing and also became a nurse. She founded a workshop in her hometown and trained many girls to learn how to sew. She was known for her helpfulness and also seriousness. When the revolution broke out, her parents left the colony for France. As for her, she remained in Haiti to fight against slavery.
On 18 May 1803, in Arcahaie, Jean-Jacques Dessalines obtained the pledges of the Generals to unite under his command. Dessalines then took the French tricolor of three broad vertical bands and tore out the flag’s white band symbolizing the French colonial power. He cast it upon the ground and trampled upon it. Then his, goddaughter, Catherine Flon, sewed together the remaining blue and red bands. This symbolized the union of the blacks and mulattoes under the motto: Liberté ou la Mort!
In 2000, the Haitian government included a portrait of her on the bill of ten gourdes. She is revered throughout Haiti and the Diaspora and is named after several institutions. Catherine Flon, by her significant acts of courage, remains today the symbol of the Haitian flag.
Today let us pay tribute to this powerful woman by recognizing the significance of our heroines and their legacy!