Actor Yannick Bisson has returned from a whirlwind trip. And as he tells Hello!, it's one he won't soon forget. The Murdoch Mysteries star visited Haiti with the charitable organization Artists for Peace and Justice. "It was a pivotal experience for me," he says.
After arriving with his wife, Shantelle, to see progress the charity has helped achieve since the country was devastated by the 2010 earthquake, the Montreal native says that they instantly felt welcomed. "It wasn't hard to get a smile and a high-five out of kids who were living with literally nothing. Being greeted with that in the midst of what we were seeing was incredible."
It was Yannick's first visit to the poverty-stricken country, and he and Shantelle spent their time touring housing projects and a school in Port-au-Prince, which were built by Artists for Peace and Justice. While spending time with middle and secondary school student at the Academy for Peace and Justice, Yannick, 48, was surprised to see they'd dedicated a plaque to their special guests. "I was completely moved. I didn't expect it," he says. After touring the campus and joining students for lunch, he also had the chance to address a graduating class and answer questions.
Beyond the areas assisted by the charity, Yannick also saw Haiti's thriving art scene firsthand at an urban museum and local market. Still, he tells Hello! it's the people, not the place, that made the most profound impact on him. "They're incredibly beautiful, creative people with just the most wonderful spirit. They have this beautiful expression through their art and music that was very cool to see."
Such an incredible time seeing the difference being made in people's lives up close and personal. The work being done by @artistsforpeace in #haiti is making a very real difference. If you are looking to help this very needy country you can rest assured that every dollar is hitting the ground here in the form of much needed education, health and housing. Haitians are beautiful, giving people...they just need a leg up. I know I'll never be the same for having met them; in the slums and in the schools. ✌️
Over the years, Yannick - who's getting back to work on an 11th season of his CBC drama - says his wife has inspired him to take time out to give back to various causes. After visiting Haiti, he's more focused than ever on doing his part. He tells us he'll definitely be back and hopes that next time he'll have his three grown daughters in tow. "I was there to give in any way that I could," he says, reflecting on his recent trip. "But I ended up getting a lot more than anybody else there got from me."