Local Haitians commemorate their country’s independence, celebrate their heritage

The first day of the year marked 216 years of Haiti’s independence from French rule.
The Haitian community around the world and in Brooklyn celebrated their rich heritage.
Local resident Luke Bijouz has celebrated Haiti’s independence with an afternoon mass at Holy Family Church in Canarsie for the past 12 years.
“It’s a joyful celebration every year to meet people. Actually, we've met every year from different parishes in Brooklyn and Queens, and we enjoy coming every year to celebrate that mass,” Bijouz said Wednesday.
Congregants sang songs and heard powerful words from faith leaders in their native language.
When the mass came to its conclusion, the feast begun with the yearly tradition serving of a soup called joumou.
Holy Family Church attendees said celebrating their independence on the first day of the year gives them a sense of pride as they also celebrated their rich heritage.