In what has turned out to be pretty much the polar opposite of Wyclef Jean's recent Haiti happenings, Grammy-winning Canadian indie-rock powerhouse Arcade Fire have decided to give back in a big way. The group, members of which have family ties to Haiti, have dedicated up to $300,000 in matching funds this holiday season for "Kanpe Haiti", a charity that's been helping to rebuild the country in the wake of 2010's devastating earthquake.
"If you are having a hard time deciding what to get your friends and family for gifts this year, give them our money! For any donation you make to Kanpe this holiday season, the band will match it," a press release issued by the band reads.
Co-leader Régine Chassagne, though born in Quebec, has maintained a connection to her parent's homeland. Her parents emigrated to Canada a few years before she was born, after fleeing the oppressive dictatorship of Francois Duvalier.
"My grandfather was taken by the Tonton Macoutes and it was 10 years before my father finally learnt he had been killed. My mother and her sister returned home from the market to find their cousins and friends murdered," she told The Guardian.
The press release was posted in both English and French to the band's website. In the English version, Chassagne's husband, Arcade Fire's lead singer Win Butler was magnanimous.
"We will also send a nifty little post card, signed by Regine and I, to put under the tree, or wherever you put your gifts (it's not our business). For any silicone valley jerks who might try to bankrupt us, lets put the upper limit at $300,000," the release continued.
Arcade Fire have been advocates for Haiti since the release of their first album, "Funeral" in 2004. In 2007, the group played a benefit show for Partners in Health in Manchester, England, raising nearly $100,000 for the charity. Chassagne penned a widely read op-ed piece for The Observer. In the article, Chassagne pleaded for help in restoring the dignity of the Haitian people.
"This earthquake has torn away the veil and revealed the crushing poverty that has been allowed by the west's centuries of disregard. That we must respond with a substantial emergency effort is beyond argument, but in the aftermath, Haiti must be rebuilt," Chassagne said. "Since Haiti shook and crumbled, I feel as if something has collapsed over my head, too. Miles away, somehow, I'm trapped in this nightmare. My heart is crushed. I've been thinking about nothing else."
Eat your heart out, Wyclef.