Canadians have long celebrated Hispanic culture with events and gatherings hosted in many communities in Canada.
I am so pleased that now, in 2018, the rest of the country will join in these celebrations because the Parliament of Canada has passed the Latin American Heritage Month Act last June. Now, the celebration of history and culture will take place from coast to coast to coast.
Here in Canada, we have long promoted multiculturalism as a defining value of our people. We live in this country alongside different cultures, religions and ethnicities. Some of us might have even moved here because of this freedom and diversity. We are proud of our differences and our ability to share our cultures and heritage with one another.
Because of this diversity, our Latin American culture can thrive. Our cuisine, music, dance, paintings, drawings, photographs, literature, and Spanish language media are growing in popularity. Salsa dancing events are held in public squares from Toronto to Fort McMurray and Mexican cuisine is celebrated from Inuvik to Halifax.
Our communities are tightly knit. We show solidarity amongst ourselves, we stay positive and we help each other out. I believe it is important for the thousands of Latin American Canadians across the country to not only celebrate our culture, but to promote it.
When the late Senator Tobias C. Enverga introduced the Latin American Heritage Month Act in the Senate, he did it to recognize the significant contribution of the Latinos in Canada. He characterized the bill as “part of this continuous exercise in nation building that will signal greater inclusion for many Canadians”.
This is an opportunity to export our vibrant culture to all Canadians. We want everyone to recognize our presence, our contribution to the economy, and our influence on Canadian values and lifestyle.
Latin American Canadians have a rich heritage and culture in this country. In 2016, according to Statistics Canada, Latin American Canadians made up 1.3% of the total population and 5.8% of the visible minority population. As our numbers grow, so too does our ability to share our culture with Canadians from every background.
This October, there are dozens of events being held across the country to celebrate Latin American art, cuisine, music and more. A few months ago, I reached out to some organizations to encourage them to organize, support or participate in events in their cities. The response exceeded my expectations. I expect that these celebrations will keep flourishing and gain strong momentum. We must make this month of October, and every month of October, a dynamic and living platform to diffuse our culture and our knowledge to the world.
Throughout the month of October, I encourage Latin American Canadians to create events and to attend those being held in your communities. I encourage you to start new initiatives. More importantly, I encourage you to share these celebrations with our fellow Canadians, whom I know would love to explore our traditions and ways of life.
To our fellow Canadians, we invite you to share in this celebration of Latin American heritage and culture in Canada. Find an event near you and join us as we mark the first national Latin American Heritage Month this October.
Senator Rosa Galvez, originally from Peru, represents the Bedford division of Quebec.