Latin American Heritage Month Act

An Act respecting Latin American Heritage Month

This bill was last introduced in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2019.


This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.


This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment designates the month of October in each and every year as “Latin American Heritage Month”.


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.


June 20, 2018 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill S-218, An Act respecting Latin American Heritage Month

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 20th, 2018 / 3:15 p.m.
See context


Mark Strahl Conservative Chilliwack—Hope, BC

Mr. Speaker, I believe if you seek it, you will find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:

That, in relation to Bill S-218, An Act respecting Latin American Heritage Month, standing in the name of the Member for Thornhill, the Order made on Wednesday, June 13, 2018, respecting the deferral of the recorded division on motion No. 1 at report stage standing in the name of the member for Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, be discharged and that the motion be deemed defeated; the bill be deemed concurred in at the report stage; the motion for third reading of the bill be deemed moved, the question on the motion be deemed put and a recorded division be deemed requested and taken immediately.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 5:30 p.m.
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Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to this bill to create Latin American Heritage Month.

I want to take this opportunity to highlight an organization in my riding, since we so rarely have the opportunity to do so. We try to do that during debates on bills and during members' statements, before question period.

I can explain how this ties directly to the importance of having a month to celebrate this heritage. I am specifically thinking about Solidarité Montérégie Amérique Centrale, an organization that operates primarily in my riding, and about Monique Messier, the chair of its board of directors, and her entire team. This organization has been around for years, and since I became a member of Parliament I have had the opportunity to attend their Arte y Cerveza fundraising soirees. These events allow the organization to continue operating, and provide opportunities for cultural sharing.

Cultural sharing is one of the most important things we can do in a diverse society like ours, and I would say that these events highlight most of all our values of solidarity. They focus on culture and include exhibits of all kinds of artworks, which explains the word Arte in the name. These soirees also provide an opportunity to learn about what this organization's volunteers are doing in Central America, and the money raised helps pay for the volunteers to get there.

I am very happy to say that I have been supporting this organization since becoming an MP. Bertrand St-Arnaud, the former MNA for Chambly and minister of justice, did a good thing when he allocated funding to that organization. I remember his speech when his ministry announced the funding. He said that the Quebec ministry of justice's main concern was the administration of justice and the courts, but that it also gave money to organizations that promote ideals of justice in Canada, Quebec, and abroad. That was his justification, and he was spot on, so I would like to take this opportunity to give him credit for that.

Events like that highlight the values of solidarity and sharing that are important to Quebeckers. They remind us that we can see beyond our borders, take the time to visit other countries and learn more about their cultures, and really make an important contribution.

When I think about Solidarité Montérégie Amérique Centrale, or SMAC, I remember seeing videos and photos taken during trips to help build schools or proper sanitary facilities for people in countries like Guatemala. That is highly commendable.

The sharing goes both ways though, and that is the beauty of this organization's mission. People from those countries also come visit us in Quebec and participate in activities hosted by our community organizations and our community. They come to share their art and culture. During these soirees, we get to connect with volunteers who talk about their experiences and with Guatemalans who tell us what the organization's work has done for their communities. That is extremely important, and it makes me so proud.

There are many organizations doing commendable work in our ridings. We can all agree on that. However, it is sometimes harder to convince people to go help out in other countries. We tend to help our neighbours and stay close to home, and with reason, that being said. Nevertheless, the opportunity to go help beyond our borders is extremely important. Canadians of Latin American origin, from Central America, contribute immensely to our culture. That is why it is important to have opportunities to honour their contributions.

It can be hard to see the point of a bill designating a month to celebrate the heritage of a particular cultural community. I myself have a cynical side, I admit. However, this is extremely important, because we have to duty to remember, to share, to exchange, and to celebrate. Whether it is for Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day, Canada Day, Canadian Jewish Heritage Month, or Sikh heritage month, we must always pay tribute to the efforts parliamentarians make to designate these months of recognition.

It is understandable that people view the purely symbolic value of such a month with a cynical eye, but it is important to take a few moments to stop and acknowledge that a given cultural community has made a substantial contribution and that meaningful exchanges have taken place. I myself am using the debate on this bill as an opportunity to talk about a major organization in my riding whose work would not normally be recognized in the House of Commons. That is why it is so vital to have opportunities like this.

However, before I go any further, I would like to apologize, Mr. Speaker, because I should have first paid tribute to the senator who sponsored this bill and who died tragically. We offer our condolences to his family and loved ones. This bill is part of his legacy. I also thank the member for Thornhill for introducing this bill.

The organization that I was talking about is Solidarité Montérégie Amérique Centrale or SMAC. I am pleased to continue to support that organization and I want to acknowledge its 20th anniversary in the House of Commons. I would also like to take this opportunity to apologize to its representatives for missing the anniversary celebration. I was unable to make it, because I was also the honorary chair for the Relay for Life in Chambly. Unfortunately, members cannot be in two places at once, even though we sometimes try.

I am very proud to support this organization and see it diversify its activities. SMAC started out as a cocktail-and-auction fundraiser. Today, it has grown and now it hosts a dance and an art exhibit. This year, events were held on both Friday and Saturday, and artists were invited. It is so nice to see that. I fully support these people and commend them for their efforts. As it celebrates its 20th anniversary, I wish this organization continued success.

In closing, I want to come back to what I was saying about designated months. We have to understand that we have some rather large communities. Since becoming a member of Parliament, I have been hearing my colleagues talk about certain cultural communities that represent one million Canadians, or 500,000 Canadians. It can be breathtaking to see such wonderful diversity. We must highlight diversity and encourage cultural exchanges. It is the best way to promote community spirit, love, and respect for our neighbours. Organizations that promote solidarity help in achieving that objective.

Again, I want to congratulate SMAC and the sponsor of this bill. Even when we think that a bill is purely symbolic, we must never turn our backs on the importance of celebrating an occasion and heritage with our neighbours in order to promote community spirit. These are the values of Quebeckers and Canadians, and I am proud to share those values.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 5:40 p.m.
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Alain Rayes Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to commend my colleague on the speech he just gave on Bill S-218.

I want to begin by paying tribute to the late Senator Tobias Enverga, the sponsor of this legislative measure and a great Filipino-Canadian who advocated for multiculturalism.

Mr. Speaker, I thank you in helping me to quiet things down in the House.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 5:40 p.m.
See context


Alain Rayes Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech and the beautiful songs he treated us to.

I would like to pay tribute to the late Senator Tobias Enverga, the sponsor of this legislation and a great Filipino Canadian who advocated for multiculturalism. I would like to point out that he is the first Canadian of Filipino heritage to serve in the Senate. He was born in the Philippines and was appointed to the upper chamber in 2012 to represent Ontario. He proudly represented not only people from the Filipino community, but many different groups living in the greater Toronto area and elsewhere in Canada, and he did so in a very positive way.

We are debating this today thanks to the member for Thornhill, my colleague who was delighted to sponsor the bill in order to move it along in honour of Mr. Enverga. The bill reads as follows:

An Act respecting Latin American Heritage Month



the Parliament of Canada recognizes that members of the Latin American community in Canada have made significant contributions to the social, economic and political fabric of the nation;

Whereas the designation of a month as Latin American Heritage Month would be a meaningful way to remember, celebrate and educate the public about these contributions;

Whereas Latin American communities across Canada would be mobilized by a Latin American Heritage Month to jointly celebrate, share and promote their unique culture and traditions with all Canadians;

And whereas October is a significant month for the Latin American community around the world;

Now, therefore, Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts as follows:


Throughout Canada, in each and every year, the month of October is to be known as “Latin American Heritage Month”.

The month of October was chosen because that is the same month designated in the United States to mark this event.

Who are the members of the Latin American diaspora? By definition, they come from all parts of America where people mainly speak Spanish and Portuguese. We are talking about 20 or so countries in all, with 18 Spanish-speaking countries and one where Portuguese is spoken.

It was just announced that the World Cup will be held here. Latin American countries love soccer, or fútbol as some fans like me call it. I have many friends who are fans of soccer and who come from countries such as Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, Cuba, which is a beautiful country where many people vacation, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru—and this gives me the opportunity to say hello to my good friend Marisol Hidalgo, who is originally from there and the wife of one of my French friends—the Dominican Republic, Salvador, Uruguay, and Venezuela. I have had the opportunity to visit and to vacation in some of these countries.

There are more than 400 million Spanish speakers in the world. It is currently the second most spoken language. More than 363 million of these speakers live in Latin America. I mention these big numbers because they are reflected in our international schools and language schools. We live in a bilingual country, where we speak English and French, but Spanish is often the third language children learn. It is a good tool for their future. My three children had the opportunity to learn Spanish in high school, and I am proud that they are able to speak in this language.

Between 1996 and 2001 in Canada, the Latin American population increased by 32%, which is significant. Seven out of 10 people came between 1991 and 2011. According to the most recent data from the 2011 National Household Survey, there are approximately 750,000 people of Latin American origin. The population of Canada is about 34.5 million, so that represents a rather large community. The majority of members from this community were born abroad. Now, we can say that 32.5% were born in Canada. Canada has welcomed Latin American immigrants for more than fifty years.

Based on available data, we know that nearly 23% of immigrants came from the Americas. Although there are no absolute census numbers covering this broad and somewhat imprecise measure, we might estimate a probable demographic well over half a million men, women, and children, and this number is growing quickly.

I want to point out how much they contribute to Canada. They work, buy goods, contribute to the economy, and help fill our labour shortage. Everyone knows we are in the middle of a labour shortage.

In 2013, they surpassed the employment rate of people born in Canada. People often think that immigrants have a harder time finding work, but in this case, they surpassed the employment rate in the labour market. Tens of thousands of workers from Latin America come every year to work temporarily in various regions of Canada and in various sectors, especially in the agricultural sector, where there is a labour shortage.

Latin America is the fourth-largest source of immigration to Canada. That is really something. Those people bring with them a diversity of cultures, a variety of food, and a wealth of knowledge. Earlier I named most of the countries covered by this bill. We all know people who come from those areas. They are all friendly, kind, and intelligent people who contribute to the development of our wonderful country.

Why a Latin American heritage month? It is simply about paying homage to the culture, the traditions, and the contributions made by this community to our society.

The Day of the Dead is celebrated in November in many countries, but the festivities start in October, hence the reason to start in October like the Americans.

October 12 is the day of indigenous resistance in Costa Rica, the day of respect for cultural diversity in Venezuela, the day of the Americas in Argentina and Uruguay, and children's day in Brazil.

Another interesting fact is that the United States celebrates exactly the same holiday, National Hispanic Heritage Month, from September 15 to October 15.

In 1988, Canada became the first country to pass a law on multiculturalism, simply known as the Canadian Multiculturalism Act.

This official recognition is in line with other similar commemorations that reinforce how important cultural communities are to our Canadian identity, such as Black History Month in February and Asian Heritage Month in May.

On a more personal note, I am the son of immigrants. My mother and father were born in Egypt. I experienced the process of settling in our country and the desire to learn even more about everything that is good in Canada, while respectfully sharing our own family cultures.

Members should also know that this contributes to our collective history of protecting our rights and freedoms under the principles of peace, order, and good governance.

As mentioned by the sponsor of the bill, the member for Thornhill, the Latin American population in Canada is young. According to Statistics Canada, almost 50% of people of Latin American origin living in Canada are under 25 years old. In light of the difficulties caused by the demographic shock that we are currently experiencing, this is an interesting fact. This population is young and can contribute for many more years to the development of our country. Seniors represent less than 5% of those reporting Latin American origins in the last census, compared to 12% of all Canadians for the same age group. This is a noteworthy statistic.

I join all my colleagues here to pay tribute to Senator Tobias C. Enverga Jr., the author of this legislation, by moving this bill forward and recognizing the month of October as Latin American heritage month here in Canada, much like they do in the United States. I would like to pay tribute to this culture and to these people who contribute to our development across the country.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 5:50 p.m.
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Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am excited to talk about Latin America. When people first said Latin Americans want a month, I actually thought that we need more than a month with all that Latin America has to give and all the things we need to explore in Latin America. Thirty days is not enough time.

I am pretty excited because I used to be the chair of ParlAmericas and now my good friend from Kenora has taken on that role. He has done a great job. Canada has really carved itself a niche in that entire region. We are looked upon. We are respected. We are kind of like a big brother in a lot of ways. They seek us for advice on legislation. They seek us for advice on all sorts of regulations.

Through ParlAmericas we have done a great job in actually building bridges in countries right across the whole hemisphere. Now I can pick up the phone because of ParlAmericas and talk to somebody in Brazil at a moment's notice, or in Chile, Peru, or Costa Rica. Those are the things that we have done through ParlAmericas, bringing parliamentarians together and sharing best practices, what works and what does not work, and learning from each other. That has made us an even tighter knit community. That is to our benefit, to Canada's benefit, and to Latin America's benefit.

When we look at the potential in Latin America we just say “wow”. Looking at the people, whether they are Portuguese, Spanish, or French, the entire region has so much dynamic to it, so much flare and ambiance with a love of family and a love of life.

My first trip to Latin America was actually to Brazil. I remember being out at a restaurant at 11 o'clock at night and looking over at the table next to me. There were two families having dinner together and they were laughing. I was thinking, it is 11 o'clock at night, why are these kids out? Then talking to a friend of mine he said that it was two teenagers out on a date. The teenagers were bringing the entire family on a date. That is part of their tradition. That is part of their culture. That is something that is appreciated and celebrated. It is quite a bit different from my kids who if they were on a date I probably did not even know about it until a week later. Right away, I could see how much family meant to them.

Then talking to them about what they do on the weekends and in the evenings, they have a love for life. They really know how to live life, appreciate the small things in life, and pull all that value out of those small things, and treasure them, and treasure each other.

Canadians, when we are doing the nine to five, or nine to 10, or, in this case, nine to midnight or 10 to midnight, sometimes we forget we need to express that love for life and to have that joyful time among family and friends.

The next trip was to Peru, Chile, and Costa Rica. I had the honour of going down there with the Prime Minister on two occasions. Again, in those scenarios, the world leaders in those regions really respected Canada. I think there are many reasons why. Part of it was that we never preached. We never went down there and told them they had to do this or do that. We always went down there with a manner of respect. We listened. We learned. We would give advice if they asked for it. We led by example. They appreciated that.

One thing I found when working with people from Latin America is that, when doing business there, the people want to know who we are. They want to understand where people come from and about their families. Once they have a comfortable relationship, then they are ready to get on to business. It is so different from other countries in the world where one sits down, has a business meeting, and that is it. Latin American people really want to know who they are working with and who they are doing business with. It is such a nice concept to have that in a business relationship.

I remember being in Cartagena, at the OAS, or the Summit of the Americas, watching President Obama. I remember sitting in the runway in the Prime Minister's jet looking out the window and there was President Obama's jet, and then there was a little jet that was Hilary Clinton's jet. I was laughing that they both came in separate planes. Maybe there were security reasons for doing that.

However, I remember talking to some of my friends down there. I said, “Isn't it nice the Americans are here?” They said, “Yes, it's nice but they only come once in a while and they write a cheque and then they expect us to do what they want. They don't get to know us. They don't actually understand who we are and what we are doing. They just drop in, drop out, and say, this is what we want.” They do not like that. They like the Canadian approach where they are treated as a friend and a partner, where respect is shown.

I think that is why we see the warmth that we have with the people and the countries in that region. I think that is why we have trade agreements with Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras, Chile, Peru, and Colombia. Hopefully, we will see something in Mercosur countries somewhere down the road. Hopefully, we will do something with the Pacific Alliance that will even bring us closer and closer together. There are so many opportunities to do business and trade in that region.

As we do business and trade in those areas, their standard of living and quality of life are going to get better. Their ability to purchase more goods and have the things we have here in Canada will become easier. As we look at security in the region, it will become safer.

I encourage everyone, especially when it is minus-40 in Saskatchewan or Winnipeg, to acknowledge that Latin America is our saving grace sometimes. A lot of people from Saskatchewan travel and participate in tourism in places like Mexico, the Caribbean, and the Dominican Republic. A lot of people in my riding go and live in Mexico in the wintertime. They love Saskatchewan in the summertime. I would encourage everyone to come to Saskatchewan in the summertime. It is cheaper to come to Saskatchewan and travel because there is no carbon tax. I just had to get that in there.

However, a lot of people like to get away in the wintertime, whether it is for a week, two weeks, or a month. Where do they go? They go to Latin America. Why? It is the guaranteed sunshine and the friendly people. They love Canadians. They like who we are. They like to talk to us. They like to visit with us. It is such a nice environment and we have become such close friends.

The other thing we have had from Latin America, especially for our honey producers, is a stable force of labour through temporary foreign workers who come in the summer, work in the beehives, and do the work we cannot get Canadians to do. Then they go home and take care of their families in the wintertime, because they do not like Canadian winters, and I do not blame them. It has created a scenario where we have all these people coming into Saskatchewan in the springtime, working right through to September or October, and going back home. Again, families and friends are being created, connections are being created, and it has been a win-win for everyone involved.

I also remember the time I went to Honduras and toured a plant of a company from Montreal, whose name escapes me right now. As we toured that plant I saw how modern it was. Talking to the people on the floor, they said it was so nice that a Canadian company would invest in their region and give them jobs. Those jobs are well appreciated. The company is providing great value to the community, but also it is not taking advantage of the people in the community. It is treating them with respect, offering health care, a fair wage, and excellent working conditions. In fact, we could put that facility in Honduras in Montreal and we would not notice the difference. That is where Canadian companies have played a proper role in the region.

I would be remiss not to talk about Canadian companies in the mining sector in Latin America. We all know that the TSX is the exchange for the mining sector around the world, and we have a lot of Canadian companies doing business in Central and South America, and in the Caribbean. Our companies have recognized the importance of being good corporate citizens.

One of the things I did when I was travelling with ParlAmericas was that I always tried to make part of my trip a tour of a Canadian facility. For example, when I was in Suriname I went to see IAMGOLD's gold mine. One can actually go there and see how it is operating. The nice thing to say about those mines, and this mine in particular, is that the safety standards were equal if not better than they would be in Saskatchewan, Quebec, or anywhere in Canada. That is, again, working well to build our Canadian brand around the world.

When we look at all these things, 30 days probably is not enough time to celebrate our relationship with Latin America. In fact, if we were to go country by country, we could probably do two or three days for each country, just talking about their culture and heritage, and getting a good understanding of who they are.

This is a really good first step, and I am really excited to see this come forward. I am glad to speak to it, and really look forward to working with the people in Latin America into the future, both in my role as a parliamentarian, and even after, some day when I am no longer a parliamentarian, perhaps in the role of a tourist.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 6 p.m.
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Matt Jeneroux Conservative Edmonton Riverbend, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for this tremendous opportunity to speak about Bill S-218, the Latin America heritage month act, brought forward by the hon. member for Thornhill. This is a wonderful opportunity to speak about the many great contributions Latin America has made to Canada. I am glad this bill is now being discussed to honour the memory of late senator Tobias Enverga, who I will talk about later in my speech.

In my hometown of Edmonton, Latin America is celebrated annually with the Edmonton Latin Festival. This event is held during the third week of August every year in Churchill Square. The energy felt during this event is contagious and a great chance for the people of Edmonton to try different foods and dances, and learn more about Latin American culture. At the festival, there is an opportunity for people to learn about different dances, including the zumba, mariachi, samba, mambo, the tango, and salsa. Latin American bands are also a huge part of the festival and the upbeat tunes always put smiles on so many faces. This Edmonton Latin Festival is growing every year and I encourage anyone visiting Edmonton in August to stop by and experience the Latin American culture.

Latin American festivals are held across the country, with annual events in Toronto, Vancouver, and right here in Ottawa. These events are an excellent way for Canadians to come together to celebrate Latin America and learn more about the cultural and ancestral heritage of many fellow Canadians. There are estimated to be about 600,000 people of Latin American descent living in Canada. Latin America is the fourth largest source of immigrants to Canada, with more and more people from Latin America arriving annually. My home province of Alberta has one of the highest concentrations of Latin Americans within it, and I am proud to be from a province that has welcomed and embraced so many Latin American immigrants and their families.

Football, or soccer, as we call it, is a national sport of Brazil and a popular game of many Latin American countries. Just today, we learned Canada will host some of the World Cup games during FIFA 2026. Some of these games will likely be in Edmonton, and I am so excited to celebrate the sport with fans from around the world during that World Cup.

Alberta has become a host to a variety of Spanish bilingual programs in both public and private school boards from Edmonton to Calgary and across the province, encouraging young Canadians from Latin American descent or those who are simply interested in the culture to pursue language studies. Sweet Grass Elementary School in my riding of Edmonton Riverbend is host to the well-known international Spanish academy program, which strives to help students develop language and literacy skills in Spanish and teaches students to use both Spanish and English to communicate. The program has had an emphasis on helping many students to learn about the cultures of Spanish-speaking countries, like those in Latin America.

As well, universities across Canada offer both Spanish and Portuguese classes, proving that it is never too late to enrich your life with a second language or increase your knowledge of the culture. These programs also offer a means for immigrants from Latin American countries to stay in touch with their heritage and to continue to express and learn about their native culture. The culture these students learn about is rich and diverse, making for an educational and exciting program.

Many students often travel to different countries in Latin America on exchange programs to get first-hand experience of the culture and lifestyle. The history of Latin America is not only important to those of Latin American descent, but to all Canadians, and all those in the western hemisphere. This part of the world contributes to the global economy and the relationship between states in America reflects the importance Latin America plays in global relations.

Canada is proud to be a member of the Organization of American States, which includes 35 independent states of America, the vast majority of which are Latin American. Groups like OAS connect all Americans through politics, the economy, and the recognition of each other's culture.

Latin America is a geographically diverse part of our hemisphere, encompassing Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, and South America. It is comprised of 20 sovereign states and approximately 20 million people who speak Spanish, Portuguese, and French. The diverse climate promises skiing, surfing, hiking, and much more for both residents and tourists, attracting many people from around the world to experience not only the culture but the land itself.

Just like the area is geographically diverse, each country is culturally diverse. The Aztec empire was built in a modern-day Mexico City and the Aztecs developed an alphabet, created ceramic dishes, and left behind beautiful art. They left their legacy on modern-day Mexico with some parts of their language and traditional food still in use.

Brazil, the largest country in Latin America, was founded in 1500 by the Kingdom of Portugal, though indigenous peoples inhabited the country before the Europeans arrived. Like Mexico, art and pottery were important parts of Brazil's development. Today, it is the largest Portuguese-speaking country in the world.

I am giving my colleagues this history and geography lesson to really highlight how remarkable the area of Latin America is. There are so many countries, languages, cultures, and people living in this region of the world. I believe it is important to recognize this area of the world and its peoples through a Latin American heritage month here in Canada. Throughout this heritage month, we would be able to celebrate all that Latin America and Latin American people have to offer the world and also acknowledge and honour their history and current presence in the world.

The idea for Latin American history month came from the late Senator Tobias Enverga, who was appointed to the upper house in 2012. Senator Enverga was the first senator of Filipino descent appointed to the Canadian Senate, and with his perspective as an immigrant, he saw the need for a new month to celebrate Latin America. He cited Black History Month and Asian Heritage Month as examples of educational and celebratory months that give all Canadians the opportunity to learn about different cultures and heritages. He argued a Latin American heritage month was deserving of national recognition, and I certainly agree.

Some Canadians might wonder why we have heritage months. These months are important to learn about and recognize the different cultures that have shaped Canada into what it is today. Learning about different cultures, countries, and parts of the world gives our citizens different perspectives and an appreciation for Canada. In May, Canada marked its first-ever Jewish Heritage Month, a great opportunity to reflect on the contributions of Jewish Canadians. I look forward to heritage months every year because I see them as an opportunity for learning and enrichment.

Senator Enverga introduced a bill in the last Parliament, Bill S-228, to create a Hispanic heritage month, which would complement designations already marked by the province of Ontario and the city of Toronto. However, the bill was a casualty of the 2015 election. After that, Senator Enverga altered the bill to focus on Latin America, which encapsulates not only Hispanic culture but francophone communities in Haiti and indigenous peoples in Latin America.

The impact of Latin American culture on Canada cannot be understated. Traditional Latin American food has become common on menus in tens of thousands of restaurants across the country. Spanish is one of the most common languages spoken by Canadians after English and French, and salsa dancing continues to be a popular hobby for many Canadians.

Canada was declared a multicultural nation about 50 years ago. Our multiculturalism designation recognizes the great contributions of so many immigrants who have shaped the landscape of this country. In our bigger cities like Edmonton, Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal, a person can visit so many corners of the world through restaurants, festivals, stores, and films. Our nation is admired by so many people across the world for our openness, acceptance, and ability to live among one another peacefully.

In the coming years, with birth rates predicted to continue decreasing, immigration will become even more important for workforce and population maintenance. I am proud to be from a country where immigration is not only happily accepted, but widely encouraged and embraced. I admire immigrants for their courage to leave their country and start a new life in Canada, which often includes learning English or French. Immigrants from Latin America have a great impact on the Canadian workforce, our culture, and our heritage. We are proud to accept Latin Americans from a diverse range of countries into Canada.

I think it is a great idea to formally recognize the month of October as Latin American heritage month, and I wholeheartedly support the hon. member for Thornhill's private member's bill for this declaration. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to speak about the bill today, and thankful for the contributions and hard work of so many people of Latin American descent who now call Canada home. I hope to be able to join my colleagues in celebrating Latin American heritage month this coming October.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 6:10 p.m.
See context


Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to talk here today on Bill S-218, an act respecting Latin American heritage month. It is very important, not only for Canada, but also for my constituency of Windsor West. We are one of the border cities. In fact, I would argue we have a unique feature in our area in that not only were Latin Americans part of the founding of Windsor and Essex County, they are part of our continued trade every day. In fact, approximately 40% of Canada's daily trade with the United States happens through my community of Windsor, and it happens along two kilometres of the international border. We have four crossings that are part of the overall footprint for this trade. What is important is that the—

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 6:10 p.m.
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Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, now we understand why we are two sword lengths apart in the chamber. I feel more secure with the Sergeant-at-Arms near me.

You are able to articulate in such a colourful spirit this afternoon, going into a long evening.

It is important in a practical sense to recognize Latin American month and the economic development and the cultural experience in my riding. Not only do we trade 40% with the United States, but the vast majority of that also continues on to Mexico and to other Latin American countries.

We celebrate with the Fiesta Latino festival. The fourth annual festival will be June 30. This is important. Some may think that these months, even though they are symbolic, are very important. Our critic, the member for Vancouver East, has done wonderful work on this. She knows quite well that part of our founding and the importance of our communities and our country is not only having the connection of coming here, but it is also the continued connection with culture, heritage, and the experience of where they came from, including family members.

I want to note one of the most difficult and serious things that the government needs to look at is visitor visas, whether for Latin American countries or other countries around the world. Whether they be for weddings or funerals, visitor visitations in this country have ground to a halt. It is very serious. As we continue to recognize important connections like we are recognizing today and continue to grow those things, we cannot get away from the practical reality that is the continued connection of the cultural experience.

We have so many different independent days that are connected. We have trading partners in Latin America as well as Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Chile. These are all countries we have strong economic and social relationships with, and they have business relationships that come back to our communities.

As I look at this through a local lens, I am proud that we have many Latin Americans who not only come to the Windsor-Essex area, but also Chatham and Leamington to be part of our economy. They are temporary foreign workers who have expertise in the agriculture sector and are part of our families in many respects. In the House, there have been debate to try to improve their rights. We have had many families and workers' issues brought about because of the value they add to our country and communities. The Windsor-Essex region and Chatham-Kent-Leamington region have that type of economic connection to it.

We see the influence of those communities in the downtown districts or business districts where there are restaurants, grocery stores, and different staples that are basically built around that economic development. When we are looking at trade and commerce, those have become economic powerhouses. One should not underestimate the greenhouse industry and the agricultural industry that contribute to the welfare of our country and our taxation base. That is critical.

Festivals like we have in Windsor increase our awareness and connect us to social justice issues. They also connect to a number of environmental issues that we are trying to push and develop. This includes celebrities in art, music or other realms, but also workers. That is important to recognize.

We had a delegation from Mexico here about two months ago. One of the key things they talked about was the working conditions in their auto industry and in other industries involved in the trade agreements we have. Family members and workers were challenged not only in the private sector industries, but also in the public sector, which includes universities, other educational institutions, and so forth.

Historically, we can look at Nicaragua and other places from which we have had people come to Canada looking for freedom and its expression, sometimes escaping difficult and extreme situations. They have been front and centre in founding and keeping a strong sense of social justice, acting as a moral compass for our own communities and our country.

In many respects, they have become agents of social change for our communities and for the globe. In fact, many people with different heritage backgrounds are coming to our country. Some are fighting for issues of social justice and welfare. After escaping regimes that have significant cruel and inhumane practices, they have now begun to form a better world for many more people.

Latin American heritage month is not just about the experience of the music, the food, and the colourful things that take place. It is about continuing to enshrine the responsibility we have in raising the next generation in a global village that works for social justice and humanity. What better way to do it than to continue to recognize not just the past, but, most importantly, the future? That is what this does.

The fourth annual festival in Windsor, happening on June 30, will be one of the many events across Canada proudly celebrating Latin heritage in our communities, and celebrating our continued economic, social, and cultural development in our neighbourhoods, our provinces, our country, and other places, like Latin homelands, in the world.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 6:20 p.m.
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Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is an absolute honour to stand in the House today and speak to Bill S-218. This bill would designate the month of October each and every year Latin American heritage month.

Permit me to begin by paying tribute to the late Senator Enverga, who was the author of this bill. He was the first Filipino Canadian to sit in the Senate, and he was a proud voice for his community during this time. Senator Enverga also brought a tremendous amount of passion, energy, and commitment to everything he did in this place, and we honour and respect him for that. He worked tirelessly in his role as senator, and he used his position to advocate for the most vulnerable members of society. In fact, he was a diligent champion for people with Down syndrome and a strong advocate for diversity and multiculturalism in Canada.

Senator Enverga sat as co-chair of the Canada–Philippines Interparliamentary Group and inaugurated the annual Filipino Independence Day flag-raising on Parliament Hill, which is something we celebrated earlier this week. The senator loved his family, he loved his community, and he loved his country. He was proud to be Canadian. It is my hope that this private member's bill will pass through the House quickly, in honour of his memory.

What would Latin American heritage month look like? First, let us get an idea of the countries that would be involved. Latin America encompasses all the countries in the western hemisphere where Spanish, French, and Portuguese are spoken. This list is extensive. It includes Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Peru, Venezuela, Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala, Cuba, Haiti, Bolivia, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Paraguay, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama, Puerto Rico, and Uruguay; and the French colonies of Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guiana, St. Martin, and Saint-Barthélemy. Latin America clearly encompasses many different people and many different ways of life.

There are many Canadians of Latin American descent. According to the 2011 census, nearly 545,000 people of Latin American origin live in Canada, a number that has continued to grow in the last seven years. Canadians of Latin American origin make up one of the largest non-European ethnic groups in Canada. Clearly there is a substantial population of these individuals, and they are ready to celebrate with us.

Canada has a strong history of partnership with Latin American countries. Our nation looks forward to helping in the continued development, growth, and integration of the entire hemisphere.

As Conservatives, we have a strong history of partnership with Latin America. One of the most significant decisions in Canada's relations with Latin America took place under the government of Brian Mulroney, when he opted to join the Organization of American States as a full member in late 1989. We remember the words of the former external affairs minister, Joe Clark. He said, “For too long Canadians have seen this hemisphere as our house; it is now time to make it our home.” I fondly recall former prime minister Stephen Harper visiting Colombia, Chile, Barbados, and Haiti as one of his first major trips overseas. Members can see that Canada's relationship with Latin American countries is deeply valued.

When it comes to celebrating Latin American culture and heritage, there is a great deal we can talk about. The culture of Latin America is diverse and rich, with beautiful music and dance, delicious food, and stunning natural landmarks.

With regard to dance and music, Latin American music and dance are both fun and challenging. The music is known for its strong rhythms, large percussion sections, and signature horns, and when we hear music from these regions, it is difficult not to start dancing. Often the different dances incorporate a lot of hip movement as well as quick steps and spins, something I would imagine you would be quite good at, Mr. Speaker. From the Caribbean region, we get rhythms like salsa and bachata. Brazil is famous for being the original place of the samba, a cheerful dance often performed at Carnival. The tango is another Latin dance. It originated in Argentina. I am sure these dances would be a lot of fun for all of us, and I look forward to the celebrations that are to come. Dance and music are a big part of this culture, and I look forward to the various festivities after declaring October Latin American heritage month.

Another significant aspect of Latin America is the food. I am sure all of us can appreciate the vast contributions of Latin America to the international culinary scene. Latin food is delicious and colourful and often full of interesting spices and exotic ingredients. Each country has signature dishes it is well known for.

From Mexico, we have the classic tacos, burritos, quesadillas, fajitas, and more. Authentic Mexican food is very spicy, and they use a lot of chilies, which maybe is not for everyone but is certainly enjoyable for many. From Venezuela, we get the arepa, a round, flat corn patty filled with various fillings, such as cheese, avocado, meat, or beans. Argentina and Chile give us empanadas, hot patties made from flour and filled with meat, cheese, and beans. In Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil, we eat a lot of grilled meat.

As members can see, there is a lot of good food going on in Latin America, which will also be incorporated into our festivities, should this bill pass.

Latin American countries are also known for their beautiful landscapes and natural beauty. The many natural wonders attract tourists from around the world. Between Argentina and Brazil are the Iguazu Falls. At 269 feet, these falls dwarf Niagara Falls and are surely a sight to be seen.

In Peru, people can visit the Colca Canyon, which is about twice as deep as the Grand Canyon and is populated with towns founded in Spanish colonial times. While in Peru, people can also stop by Machu Picchu, which is one of the seven wonders of the world. Another incredible sight is the Amazon River, the longest river in the world, stretching at least 6,400 kilometres across South America. Its source is in the Andes Mountains and it empties in the Pacific Ocean.

With mountains, waterfalls, rivers, and canyons, this region of the world is filled with beautiful natural landmarks.

Of course, I cannot give a speech about Latin America without mentioning soccer, as it has been in so many speeches already. The fast-paced game is played throughout the region, and many accomplished teams have come from Latin American countries. I look forward to seeing many of these teams play in the World Cup this summer.

While there are many things to celebrate and enjoy in Latin American culture, we must acknowledge that this culture is diverse, and our country does not support everything done in each and every one of these countries. We strongly condemn the human rights violations committed by the Venezuelan government, and we urge the powers that be to establish a true democracy and to respect the dignity of human rights in their governing practices.

We also condemn the human rights atrocities committed against the Colombian people and the faulty jail sentences given to many in Peru. We call upon all Latin American countries to respect human rights.

That said, Latin American heritage month is about celebrating the common people and the culture of Latin America. Why is it important to celebrate Latin American heritage month in Canada? As we have already established, Canada has a large Latin American population, one that continues to grow and contribute positively to Canadian society. This is an opportunity to honour it. We have many other months, days, and weeks dedicated to celebrating other cultures and heritages. It seems fitting, then, that we would take another month to celebrate Latin American culture. Surely we can find the opportunity to do that.

I look forward to this bill passing, and when it does, I look forward to celebrating alongside my Latin American friends. In the company of hospitable people, beautiful music, enjoyable dance styles, and delicious food, I know that October, with all of its celebrations, will be a time we do not want to miss.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 6:25 p.m.
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Sylvie Boucher Conservative Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d’Orléans—Charlevoix, QC

Mr. Speaker, this evening, I am very pleased to speak to Bill S-218, which seeks to designate October as Latin American heritage month.

Thanks to my two daughters, Mélinda and Marie-Catherine, I have had the opportunity to learn a lot about Latin American culture. When they were teenagers, my daughters became very close friends with the wonderful Cornejo and De Leon Velasquez families from El Salvador and the equally wonderful Neto family from Mexico. I was therefore able to discover this unique culture and often share delicious meals with these families. I remember Ms. De Leon Velasquez's delicious pupusas and tamales and the Neto family's amazing guacamole. What can I say about Latin American culture? Its music brings back memories of girls nights with my daughters and friends. The music of Ricky Martin, Marc Anthony, Luis Fonsi, and Shakira, among others, made us dance, sing, and most importantly helped us discover the beauty of Latin American heritage.

Latin Americans brought colour and flavour into our lives. They shared with us their way of life and taught us to be more open to a people who may have had difficulty integrating into our society when they first arrived in Quebec or Canada. They are now quite well integrated and are sharing their culture, music, and food with us.

By designating a Latin American heritage month, we will be opening ourselves to the world. We will be opening ourselves up to new cultures and a new vision of who we are as Quebeckers, Canadians, and in my case, as a French Canadian woman.

Unfortunately, I have not learned the language. I only know two words in Spanish, hola and qué tal. My daughters and my grandson speak Spanish. My seven-year-old grandson has friends from Mexico. I think it is great that at age seven he is learning French, English, and Spanish, and that he is discovering Latin American culture. I think it is great that this bill highlights the importance of Latin American heritage.

What can we say about these Latin Americans who come here to lend a hand? In 2015, 9,000 Mexican and Guatemalan agricultural workers arrived in Quebec to help us in the fields. In my riding alone, there are many Guatemalans and Mexicans, especially in Île d'Orléans for the strawberry harvest. In the winter, more and more Mexicans come to Quebec to enjoy everything that our winters have to offer. We can learn a lot about ourselves from Mexican or Latino culture. Through their eyes and their friendship I realize how fortunate I am to spend time with them. They helped open my eyes to the world. They explained their culture and religion to me; how different they are from mine. Thanks to my daughters, they helped me discover the splendour of the Latin American community. That was in my old riding. In my new riding, I have a larger number of agricultural workers.

When I was the MP for Beauport—Limoilou, there was a very active community in Saint-Pie-X. There were always Guatemalans, Mexicans, and Salvadorans at Parc Bardy. All those wonderful people formed a community together with francophones from Ivory Coast and people from Senegal. My riding was multicultural. Multiculturalism is a great way to engage with the world. When my girls were teenagers and we went over to the Cornejos' or the De Leon Velasquezes' place, we got used to watching telenovelas. I told them I thought the shows were cheesy, but really, they were no cheesier than American tabloids.

The Latin American community is very tight-knit and family-oriented. Quebeckers are pretty family-oriented too, but we are more self-absorbed, and that is a shame. Latin American families offer a different perspective.

My girls are 29 and 30 now, and they still have the same friends. I knew Neto when he was 13 or 14, and now he is a young man with two daughters of his own. I think that is wonderful; they are just so beautiful. From my grandson's perspective, they are a kind of bridge between what we are and what they are. That community's culture is very important to me.

Usually, it is parents who raise children, but I am grateful to my girls for teaching me to be open to the rest of the world. When we take an interest in another culture and try to understand where people are coming from to see where they are going, when we understand that despite their differences other people can complement us, that changes everything.

This kind of bill may seem unimportant to some people, but it is very important to me because it underscores something very special: we are open to all communities. Today, our focus is on the Latin American community.

Today I would like to send greetings to Neto and the Cornejo and De Leon Velasquez families. I thank them for introducing me to their magnificent culture.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 6:35 p.m.
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Bob Saroya Conservative Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, It is a pleasure, as always, to stand in the House and take part in the important conversations we have at the heart of Canadian democracy. Today I am pleased to join the conversation surrounding S-218, the Latin American heritage month act. I am especially proud to speak to this bill sponsored by my friend the late Hon. Senator Enverga.

I would like to say a few words about Senator Enverga before I discuss the bill.

Senator Enverga was the first Canadian of Filipino descent to be appointed to the Senate. He represented my home province of Ontario in the upper house after being appointed in 2012. He did outstanding work for the Filipino community, but also for a number of communities in the greater Toronto area, and across the country, my riding including.

Speaking of my riding, we worked hand in hand for a number of years. Sometimes we met each other five or six times a week in the different communities for the different community functions all around the GTA. It was a pleasure to have been able to call him my friend.

Senator Enverga passed away on Thursday, November 16, while on parliamentary business in Colombia. However, even after his passing, Senator Enverga's Latin American heritage month bill lives on. This is his legacy. I am proud to be able to speak to the bill, and to contribute my thoughts here today.

I would like to express my full support for this act. Multiculturalism is at the very core of our Canadian identity. Bill S-218 recognizes the many major contributions of the Canadian Latin American community to Canada's social, economic, and political fabric. It recognizes that the Latin American community is an important part of our diverse nation and collective heritage.

I hope members of the Latin American community across the country are able to celebrate Latin American heritage month. Further, I hope the community is able to use it to share its unique culture and traditions with all Canadians.

Given the strong and growing presence of the Latin American community in Canada, the formal recognition of Latin American heritage is important. This will provide Canadians of all backgrounds a perfect opportunity to recognize and reflect on the contributions of this community. Together we can celebrate our diverse society in Canada.

Some may say that the recognition of this community means very little to bettering the lives of the Latin American communities in Canada. However, I would argue that the bill is one more meaningful way Canada can work toward being a more inclusive nation that celebrates and accepts people from all backgrounds and walks of life. The bill recommends that the government recognize the contributions that Latin American Canadians have made to Canadian society and Canadian culture for future generations by declaring each October Latin American heritage month.

I am proud to support the bill. I know all of our Conservative members, and of course the previous Conservative government, have reflected on the contributions that Latin American Canadians have made to Canada. We are strong allies of the community, and are thankful for its contributions to Canadian society. I will be happy to support and recognize the unique culture that Latin Americans bring to the table.

The bill reads, “Throughout Canada, in each and every year, the month of October is to be known as “Latin American Heritage Month”.” It is important that we designate October as Latin American heritage month, as it is a very meaningful month for the Latin American community at home and abroad. It is particularly important because it is the month that marks the end of the annual season of the independence celebrations in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica.

Designating October as Latin American heritage month would be a meaningful way to remember, celebrate, and educate the public about their contributions.

By passing this bill, we will provide monumental appreciation and support for the community. This is important in respecting multiculturalism in Canada.

We have seen many examples of this type of legislation at work. We can look to Asian Heritage Month and Black History Heritage Month just to name a few. We have also seen Italian Heritage Month and Portuguese Heritage Month, both passed into law just last year, and just recently we celebrated Jewish Heritage Month. The work done in this regard does a lot toward educating our youth in schools and sharing the vibrant cultures of the different communities that contribute to our great country.

Latin America should be no different. Its community in Canada is among the fastest growing cultural groups in our country. According to Statistics Canada, between 1996 and 2001, the number of individuals reporting Latin American heritage had risen by 32%, at a time when the national population only grew at a rate of 4%.

Canadians of Latin American heritage have played an active role in communities across our country, going back to the early 1970s.

It is clear that the Latin American community is rapidly growing in our diverse society. From a community that had less than 3,000 members before the 1970's, over the next decades, the community will see rapid expansion and will continue to strengthen beyond most expectations. According to Statistics Canada, there were close to 250,000 Latin Americans in Canada at the start of the 21st century. By the end of 2006, their numbers more than doubled, reaching over 527,000. It is clear that Canada's Latin community is rapidly expanding and becoming evermore present in our diverse society.

Again, I am extremely proud of the work that Hon. Senator Enverga did for the Latin American community in Canada. I hope to see this legislation pass. As Senator Tobias Enverga said, “Few countries in the world are as open and accepting to people who come from other countries to settle and make a new life for themselves...”.

This is important work for the Latin American community. I truly believe that designating the month of October to be Latin American heritage month would be a meaningful opportunity to celebrate another part of our uniquely Canadian multicultural society, just as we have seen done before.

I value the contributions made to Canada by Latin Americans and I am proud to stand in support of this legislation. I hope everyone in the House will support Bill S-218.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 6:45 p.m.
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John Brassard Conservative Barrie—Innisfil, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise this evening to speak in support of Bill S-218, which would enact Latin American heritage month. There is a growing Latin American community in Barrie—Innisfil and it is for them that I rise tonight.

I will be speaking about Senator Enverga. In honour of Senator Enverga, I would love to ask the pages for dos cervezas, por favor.

I also want to thank the hon. member for Thornhill for sponsoring the bill in the House, a bill that I believe to be extremely important so that we can honour the legacy of Senator Enverga and what he was trying to do. Of course, Senator Enverga died in November of 2017, in Colombia, while there on parliamentary business. It was a sad day for all of us when we found out. I know some our colleagues were in Colombia with Senator Enverga and are still troubled by what happened on that day in November.

Senator Enverga was appointed to the Senate on September 6, 2012, by former Prime Minister Harper. It was a joyous moment in the Filipino community, because Senator Enverga was the first Filipino senator ever appointed to the Senate. As we celebrate the 120th anniversary of Filipino Independence Day, I know the impact Senator Enverga had on the Filipino community. Shortly after his death, the Bayanihan Club of Simcoe County was holding its Christmas dinner, as it does annually, and there was an incredible tribute to Senator Enverga and what he had done. Many tears were shed that night because the emotion was still raw as a result of his death. I know he is tremendously loved, not just within the Canadian Filipino community but also within the Barrie—Innisfil Filipino community.

Senator Enverga was first elected as a Toronto Catholic school board trustee. He was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012. He was a voice for those with special needs, and what a soft and gentle voice Senator Enverga had. He was a champion of multiculturalism here in Canada and some of his parliamentary work, which is too numerous to mention, included matters relating to Canada's indigenous peoples, oceans, waterways, fisheries, ecosystems, and economic resources, as well as matters related to banking, trade, and commerce. He was certainly involved in agriculture and parliamentary procedures and rights. He was a strong voice on both of those issues and many of us in the House can learn valuable lessons from Senator Enverga and the work that he did.

In his community, there literally was no event that Senator Enverga did not travel to as co-chair of the GTA's Filipino Heritage Month celebrations. He served on the Canadian Multicultural Council and founded the Philippine Canadian Charitable Foundation. He was an honourable member of this place and he is sorely missed. However, it is his legacy with respect to this piece of legislation that I hope all members of the House will support, on behalf of Senator Enverga.

As I said earlier, the Latin community in Barrie—Innisfil is a growing and dynamic community. The numbers are growing. The culture, food, and experiences of Latin America and Latin heritage are so prevalent now in Barrie—Innisfil that almost every event that I go to somewhere in my riding, there are members of the Latin community present. There are several key important members, such as Nohemi Hernández-Buitrago, and events like the Mother's Day Fiesta and the numerous Latin dance parties that occur. I have actually gotten very good at doing the salsa because of attendance at these parties.

However, they also help in other Latin communities, teaming up just recently with the Innisfil Latin Organization to raise money for the youth of Guatemala who are affected by the eruption of the Fuego volcano, or the “fire” volcano as it is known. It just recently erupted, and many people lost their lives and villages were buried in ash. This community rallied together, raising money for food, medicine, and other needs of rescue workers.

That really is what Latin people do. They come together. They are so strong in their community and in their commitment to the community. The other thing they do is promote ESL classes for Latino community members. In fact, if one goes to the Barrie community Latin foundation Facebook page, one will see a schedule of those summer classes, which will occur from nine to 1:30 on the dates specified.

One of the most disappointing things for me is that there is a church in my riding that offers English as a second language to many newcomers from Latin America, and because of the government's Canada summer jobs attestation, it did not qualify because it refused to buy into the Liberal government's and the Prime Minister's ideology. Therefore, there are some people within the Latin community who are not going to receive ESL language training this year because of the failure to receive money under the Canada summer jobs grant.

The Innisfil Latin Organization is really growing, and it serves as a communication network for the different needs of the Hispanic community in Ontario. They have a meeting point in Innisfil, and everyone is welcome to attend. They support each other, get more resources and tools, and help the Latino community. I can think of one person in particular, Nina Donayre, who teaches English as second language classes for seniors who are newcomers to Innisfil. This is the way they rally around each other to try to help each other. In fact, I was just talking to Nina at the Innisfil beach recreation centre, and she wants to do more work and outreach to the Latin community.

There are others as well such as Yudi Hibbs and Chris Mathson who are strongly involved in the Latino community, as well as Manuel Antonio Vera and Katherine Lozano Contreras, who are key players in the Innisfil Latino community. They do a tremendous amount of work. I have been to some of the dance events they have, as well as entertainment, parties, birthdays, network share job information, and immigration information. This is where my office can play a key role in providing a service and being that conduit to help them out. As well, they have English as a second language workshops and how to keep Spanish in our homes. They do activities for children, provide recipes, and just provide tremendous contributions to the Barrie—Innisfil community. They are literally everywhere.

This past weekend, the Rotary Family Fun Day took place at the Innisfil beach recreation centre and there they were. I know they are going to be at the Innisfil Ribfest this weekend, and the mayor and I are going to be there. It is probably the only community in Canada where we get the mayor of Innisfil and the member of Parliament for Barrie—Innisfil joining together to sell beer tickets at Ribfest. This is the kind of community we have, and Mayor Wauchope and I often joke about that.

The important part of this bill is that it would recognize the contributions Latin American Canadians have made to Canadian society. This is precisely what Senator Enverga thought of when he developed this bill, the richness and diversity of Latin American language and culture and the importance of reflecting upon Latin American heritage and culture for future generations by declaring the month of October as Latin American heritage month.

Later, the hon. member for Huron—Bruce will be speaking about the contribution Latin Americans have made to the game of baseball in this country. He will be talking specifically about the Blue Jays and some of the members of the Hall of Fame. I do not want to give too much away, but it is going to be great.

I have experienced the Latin community and how it has enriched Barrie—Innisfil. In the words of Shakira, “Hips Don't Lie”:

I never really knew that she could dance like this
She makes a man wants to speak Spanish

I support this bill wholeheartedly.

[Member spoke in Spanish]

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 6:55 p.m.
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Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise tonight to speak to Bill S-218, a bill for the creation of a Latin American cultural month in the month of October. Obviously, this is a heated debate over a very controversial bill, which is why we have six hours devoted to it.

I have been a member of Parliament for seven years. This is the first time I have been allowed to rise in debate during private members' hour when it was not my own bill. I spoke to my own bill, Bill C-442 in the previous Parliament, which created a Lyme disease strategy. For those who are political nerds and might wonder why it would be that a member in my position does not usually speak to a private member's bill, it is because private members' business is usually brief and speaking slots are hard to find. For some reason this evening I was able to get a much-coveted speaking slot on a Latin American heritage month for Canada.

For viewers, or historians opening up Hansard at some point covered in dust some decades from now, we should reveal that the successive six hours of debate on a non-controversial private member's bill is a tribute to political and procedural shenanigans in this place, and somehow or other, credit or blame—one might say how clever—is to Conservatives, who managed to force an extra five hours of debate on this bill. That is not to minimize that this is a great bill, but I do want to explain why we are here.

To anyone watching or anyone who cares about Latin American heritage, as I do, there is no disrespect intended, but there are more pressing matters facing the nation. However, tonight for six hours we are debating Latin American heritage month.

I want to turn my attention to that and start, as others have, by paying tribute to a departed colleague from the other place, Senator Enverga, whom I knew. His death was a terrible shock to all of us. He was on parliamentary business when he died quite suddenly, and it was a terrible thing as is always the case when someone dies unexpectedly doing his or her work on behalf of this place. This private member's bill comes to us from someone who did not have Latin American heritage, and that is quite interesting.

I am happy to support it. I want to say that in my riding of Saanich—Gulf Islands, while we have a very vibrant community that is Latin American, it is indeed small. Spanish is spoken and Portuguese is spoken, but not by very many. I do want to share, though, that Spanish names and Spanish heritage are commonly found in the geography of place. In the colonial waves that came across Turtle Island, the Spaniards of course came. Looking at my riding, my representation is Saanich—Gulf Islands. “Saanich”, of course, is indigenous, from the Sencoten word: WSÁNEC. It actually means “the people who are rising”.

However, in the Gulf Islands there is Galiano Island, which is named after a Spanish explorer from 1792. There is Saturna Island. Saturna Island is actually named for a naval schooner, not a person. The Santa Saturnina came to the Gulf Islands in 1791. I could digress and discuss the pig war that took place at Saturna Island. It was a hotly contested piece of real estate. It is amazing that it is not now. If there are people who have never really looked at a map of southern Vancouver Island, they should because they will find that where I live is actually south of the 49th parallel and I look due east at the state of Washington. It is a territory that is entirely shared lands and waters.

Some of those shared waters are the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Juan de Fuca goes way back. Juan de Fuca was actually a Greek, but he was exploring on behalf of King Philip II of Spain in the 1580s. The Strait of Juan de Fuca is one that is terribly threatened by Aframax tankers loaded with dilbit, but that is a different debate.

The entertainment from across the way may distract me from telling members about Portuguese Joe, but this is fascinating.

Portuguese Joe was the first European to live in Stanley Park. He was born in the Azores in 1828, and he lived in Stanley Park outside of where Vancouver is now. He married the granddaughter of none other than Chief Kiapilano. He really brought Portuguese culture and heritage to Vancouver proper, the Lower Mainland, and in his later years, he moved to Reid Island. He actually bought a chunk of Reid Island, which is off Galiano Island.

He passed away on Reid Island, having had two first nations wives. The first was, as I mentioned, the granddaughter of Chief Kiapilano, and the second was from the Sechelt Nation.

All of this connects indigenous culture and Latin American culture, on which is I want to reflect.

So far tonight we have talked of Latin American culture exclusively in its colonial connotations. We have talked about Spanish dancing, Latin language, and yummy food. Let me just cast our minds to the reality that Latin America is an indigenous place. We stand tonight on the traditional territory of the Algonquin Nation, and much of Latin America is the traditional territory of the Mayan people and the Quechua-speaking peoples.

This is being reflected at UBC right now. For anyone who wants to go to UBC's Museum of Anthropology, starting on May 17 and running until October 8, there an exhibition entitled “Arts of Resistance: Politics and the Past in Latin America”. There is a write-up in The New York Times if members want to read about it.

Those who put this exhibit together looked at political overlay with respect to how politics and oppression showed themselves in the art of indigenous people of Latin America. It might seem incongruous that of all places in Canada, an exhibition like “Arts of Resistance: Politics and the Past in Latin America” is on display in the Museum of Anthropology at UBC.

I do not know how many members have been to the Museum of Anthropology at the UBC campus, but it is a spectacular place, overwhelmingly devoted to British Columbia culture and indigenous arts. There are a lot of original Bill Reid pieces, carved totems, and art from the Nuu-chah-nulth, Haida, and Saanich. There is a whole range of indigenous art from British Columbia. That is the place people can go to get a sense of the kind of art that is expressed from people who are marginalized and oppressed by colonialism within Latin America.

The connections between Canada and Latin American are not only those found in our shared colonial history, those who have moved to Canada who come from a colonial past. Many people who have come to Canada from Latin America also come from that indigenous tradition. Whether they are from Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, or whichever Latin American country, they also often come with a connection to their indigenous traditional past, and that culture infuses so much richness into history throughout Latin American.

By the way, one of my constituents, Ronald Wright, is a bestselling author who has documented these connections well in his book Stolen Continents, through his review of indigenous culture in Time Among the Maya, and through a lot of reflection on indigenous culture in A Short History of Progress, although the latter mostly focuses on the foibles of hubris, western civilization, and greed.

I believe this controversial bill on Latin American heritage month will pass, and we will celebrate every October with great gusto across party lines. If nothing else, the bill brought parliamentarians together on a June night in 2018 for the second hour of a six hour debate. This debate allows us to say Latin American culture is alive and well in Canada, and we celebrate it.

Meegwetch. Gracias. Muito obrigado.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 7:05 p.m.
See context


Jacques Gourde Conservative Lévis—Lotbinière, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to speak this evening in support of my colleague from Thornhill, who is proposing that Bill S-218 , an act respecting Latin American heritage month be read the second time and referred to a committee.

The people in his riding can be proud of the work he has accomplished here in Ottawa for them and for all Canadians. I too support this bill, which seeks to recognize the tremendous contribution that Canada's Latin American community has made to our country.

This bill was drafted by our late colleague, the hon. Senator Tobias Enverga whose work with ParlAmericas moved him to propose the bill before the House today.

Latin America is part of our hemisphere. The region is generally understood to consist of the entire continent of South America, all of Central America, Mexico, and the islands of the Caribbean, whose peoples speak a Romance language or have a Romance language among their various national official languages.

For the purposes of this bill, Senator Enverga envisaged the widest possible interpretation so that Bill S-218 would cover those who identify as Spanish and Portuguese speakers from South America and Central America, as well as those whose heritage is of the francophone and Hispanic Caribbean islands.

Using that broad and very inclusive measure, we can see that Canadians of Latin American origin can be found far and wide across our great and beautiful country. In the absence of exact census numbers covering that broad and somewhat imprecise measure, we might estimate a probable demographic well above half a million men, women, and children.

What we do know is that the Latin American community is one of the fastest-growing cultural groups in Canada today. Statistics Canada reports that between 1996 and 2001, the number of individuals reporting Latin American origins rose by 32%, at a time when the overall Canadian population grew by only 4%. Again, in terms of actual numbers, demographers can only estimate that between 600,000 and perhaps 1.2 million Latin Americans, again from the broadest possible measure, live among us.

These numbers are particularly interesting given that there was only a very small Latin American population in Canada before the 1960s. It was in the 1960s and 1970s that Canada recorded the first significant migration of Latin Americans. Their motivation, sadly in too many cases, was to escape social and economic turmoil, dictatorships, and conflict. Most recently, another wave is fleeing Venezuela's corrupt and repressive regime.

These Latin Americans represented a significant loss to the countries that they left, but they have been a boon to Canada. Their education, their skills, and their adaptability have been of great benefit to Canada's labour market, to our economy, and to our culture.

The top three South American countries with the highest populations living in Canada, according to census statistics, are Mexico, Colombia, and El Salvador. The three countries from South America with the smallest populations now living in Canada are Puerto Rico, Panama, and Costa Rica. Most Canadians of Latin American origin live in Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, or Alberta, with almost half making their homes in Ontario.

Canada's Latin American population is young. Statistics Canada tells us that almost 50% of those with Latin American origins living in Canada are under the age of 25. Seniors make up less than 5% of those reporting Latin American origins, compared with 12% of all other Canadians.

Virtually all Canadians of Latin American origin are functional in one of Canada's two official languages. They are slightly more likely than the rest of our population to have university degrees. Also, Statistics Canada tells us that working-age adults of Latin American origins are somewhat more likely to be employed than the rest of Canada's adult population—fully 64% of adults of Latin American origin.

Latin America as a region is considered the fourth-largest source of immigration to Canada.

However, in sharp contrast to the United States, the demographic is not measured or appreciated nearly as much as are their counterparts in the U.S.

Bill S-218 stands not only to deepen our appreciation and celebration of our Latin American community, but also to more precisely measure the actual numbers and its regional contributions to our economy and culture.

Canada's Latin American population is a vibrant and multicultural community, composed of a range of subgroupings. First-generation artists, musicians, writers, and athletes, as well as leaders in the science, health, and business sectors, have led second and third generations that are adding their talents and skills to the mix.

Senator Enverga's bill, Bill S-218, would designate the month of October each and every year as Latin American heritage month.

I will explain the logic of this designation. October is a very significant month across Latin America. It is the month that marks the end of the annual season of independence celebrations from Mexico to Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. October 12 marks the day of the cultures in Costa Rica, the day of indigenous resistance in Venezuela, the day of respect for cultural diversity in Argentina, the day of the Americas in Uruguay, and children's day in Brazil.

Puerto Rico and Chile also wrap up their independence celebrations just before October, and in many other countries, such as Mexico, end October with a three-day celebration of the Day of the Dead, when people honour their ancestors.

Of course, we must not forget the Hispanic influences in Senator Enverga's own country of origin. Canada's large and vibrant Filipino community, although fiercely proud of the independence won from Spain, which we celebrate every year in my riding of Thornhill, still observes All Saints' Day, the day of the dead, and many other cultural legacies of colonial days maintained among their newer national traditions.

To anyone wondering what a heritage month is, why we have them, or why we need them, I would say that they are meaningful moments for acknowledging and honouring the contributions of Canada's various cultural communities. People should also know that creating heritage months does not cost the government a penny. It is not a month off work or anything like that. Heritage months give us a chance to stop and take the time to acknowledge and honour the contributions of various groups. They also provide a unique opportunity for cultural sharing. Naturally, members of the community whose culture is being celebrated are aware of their culture and heritage year-round.

However, when we have a designated heritage month, that is a point in time for everybody else to pay particular attention to or recognize it, or maybe be reminded that this is an opportunity to learn about and from the particular aspects of a culture.

It is not as practical to say that we should just be aware of all cultures at all times, although in a lot of ways we should. Having these specific points of noting and reminding ourselves is worthwhile as part of that process of ongoing cultural sharing and education.

These heritage months also provide us with an opportunity to note and listen to the experiences of Canadians from diverse backgrounds. In particular, we know Canadians from visible minority backgrounds may experience prejudice others do not, and using these times as an opportunity to reflect on that, be sensitive to that, and learn about the experiences of others is very valuable.

There was an article in The Economist recently about Italian speakers in Brazil. I did not know this, but certain dialects in Brazil have a close relationship to forms of Italian, German, and of course, many different indigenous languages. That diversity is certainly reflected in the Canadian experience as well. We are enriched by the contributions of the wide diversity of peoples who come here from different backgrounds.

Other colleagues have mentioned the importance of October in terms of a number of different holidays and celebrations that have their roots in the various cultural backgrounds from that part of the world.

In conclusion, I want to thank Senator Enverga, as well as the bill's sponsor in this place, for bringing this important bill to our attention.

These heritage months are an opportunity for us to recognize the contributions of Canadians from diverse backgrounds. I commend this bill to the consideration of members of the House. I hope everyone will support it.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 7:15 p.m.
See context


Brigitte Sansoucy NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise in the House today to discuss Bill S-218, an act respecting Latin American heritage month. This is an opportunity for me to point out the work and presence of a vibrant community in my riding, whether in Saint-Hyacinthe or Acton Vale.

As we know, members of the Latin American community in Canada have made an invaluable contribution to our social, economic, and political fabric. The objective of the bill is to designate the month of October of every year as Latin American heritage month. I am proud to support this bill.

I would like to acknowledge in the House important members of and organizations in the Saint-Hyacinthe region who do valuable work in my riding with the Latin American community. Some of them come from this very community.

It is an honour for me to rise to talk about the great work done by the Maison de la famille des Maskoutains. For 25 years now, this organization has been helping to integrate and settle newcomers to the Saint-Hyacinthe area and give them the support they need to adapt to and manage their new lives.

The Maison de la famille des Maskoutains helps all families, accommodates them and provides family members with support, reference, and prevention services. The mission of this organization, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in February, is to help newcomers integrate into Saint-Hyacinthe and help them adjust to their new life.

The Maison de la famille des Maskoutains seeks to anticipate and remove obstacles that every newcomer might face and help them regain their autonomy as they get their bearings. To that end, it has 51 interpreters on staff and provides interpretation services in 17 languages. Last year, the centre responded to requests from a hundred or so newly arrived families, either for appointments or home visits. The Maison de la famille des Maskoutains is very present in community, education, and early childhood settings, and it organizes events all year long to address themes from different categories of immigration to culture shock. I thank the Maison de la famille des Maskoutains for its good work.

I also want to acknowledge the amazing work being done by the team at the Maison de la famille des Maskoutains, some of whom are members of the Latin American community. I will start with Lizette Flores, the executive director, who took over from Carlos Martinez in December 2016. Like me, Ms. Flores has a master's degree in public administration from the École nationale d'administration publique. She also has management experience in the non-profit sector and does terrific work for this organization.

Then there is Jubilee Larraguibel, an immigrant services coordinator, who founded the organization Solidarité éthnique régionale de la Yamaska in Granby in 1996. She has been a compassionate and dedicated employee of the Maison de la famille des Maskoutains for 19 years.

Alvaro Sierra is a settlement worker. His job is to facilitate the settlement experience for young immigrants as soon as they arrive. He meets with families before they enrol their kids in school and guides them through the process. Then he follows up with the child, the parents, and the school to make the settlement process as smooth as possible.

Kawthar Ouazzani and Carmen Cecilia Calderon are settlement workers too. They both work closely with families and newcomers. Carmen Elena Serna is an early childhood educator and facilitator, and Luz Dary Marin Morales is an early childhood education assistant. They are both with the children and youth program. They bring a compassionate approach to meeting the needs of the young and old. I thank them for their amazing work.

It is also my honour to talk about Forum-2020, a non-profit that helps people looking to settle in and around Saint-Hyacinthe. Forum-2020's mission is to attract fresh blood to the RCM of Les Maskoutains through immigration. The organization breaks down barriers to immigrant integration and helps immigrants integrate by encouraging civic engagement in institutions and organizations. It works toward aligning immigration with the region's needs in a way that honours everyone's values.

For the past 10 years, Forum-2020, whose management team includes members of the Latin American community such as executive director Ana Luisa Iturriaga and immigration development and communications officer Claudia Mansilla, has been dedicated to promoting cultural diversity in Saint-Hyacinthe. The organization hosts cultural events on Saturdays in the summer. I am always delighted to attend these activities, which showcase cultures from a dozen different countries and give residents and newcomers an opportunity to connect.

To sum up, Forum-2020's goal is to attract, mobilize, and integrate families from around the world and help them flourish in our community. I thank the team at Forum-2020 for their hard work and wish them a happy 10th anniversary.

Saint-Hyacinthe and Acton Vale are vibrant communities, in part because of the contributions of their cultural communities. I want to highlight the extraordinary work that the Société de développement du centre-ville de Saint-Hyacinthe, or SDC, as it is known, does in collaboration with Forum-2020. SDC has been running cultural events on Saturdays since 2015, where new residents from diverse backgrounds can share their values and traditions with the Saint-Hyacinthe community. I want to thank Simon Cusson and Chantal Lefebvre for the incredible work they do to keep our downtown abuzz with cultural exchanges.

Saint-Hyacinthe and Acton Vale have a vibrant, well-established Latin American community. I have had the pleasure of visiting a number of businesses that employ members of this wonderful community. I am thinking of Gloria Jaimes, a project management engineer who manages manufacturing supervisors at Beaulieu Canada, a company in my riding that is on the cutting edge of flooring trends and is constantly coming up with innovative products to meet the market's needs.

I am also thinking of Odilso Rocha Rodriguez, a volunteer who is very dedicated to our community; Martha Rincon, an active and enthusiastic volunteer; and Nilda Benito, a tireless volunteer and entrepreneur who created PachaMama Canada, an eco-friendly company that works directly with Peruvian artisans to sell high-quality, fair trade alpaca products. I am also thinking of Jesus Sauce, who works at Penske; Celso Kossaka, Davi Almeida, and Sallira Sanchez from Denis Cimaf; and Carlos Chacon from the Tienda la Fé grocery store in Saint-Hyacinthe.

I am thinking of Lorena Meneses, an outstanding young entrepreneur who is the head of Mareiwa Café Colombien, a successful business that imports, roasts, and distributes high-quality Colombian coffee; John Sanchez, who works for the diocese and welcomes immigrants with open arms; Erick Gonzalez, a sales support manager at Caisse Desjardins de la région de Saint-Hyacinthe; and Angelika Gill, the executive director of Le Phare, which supports the loved ones of people with mental health issues by offering resources tailored to their needs.

I am thinking of Lucie Kablan, a field crop researcher at the Coop fédérée and author of a study on crop production that was published in the American Society of Agronomy's prestigious Agronomy Journal; Nestor Arrieta Bernal from Techno System, which produces heat exchangers; and many others who enrich our beautiful riding with their expertise, professionalism, and passion.

In closing, I would like to take a moment to invite new residents of Saint-Hyacinthe and Acton Vale to a celebration that I am hosting on Sunday, July 1, at 1 p.m. at Jean-Claude-Patenaude Park at Loisirs Bourg-Joli, which is located at 2520 Sainte-Catherine Street in Saint-Hyacinthe. I will be very pleased to have the privilege of welcoming them to the community, and I hope to have the opportunity to talk with them on July 1. Once again, I am proud to support this bill, and I thank the Latin American community for its exceptional contribution to our community and our country.

I look forward to celebrating Latin American heritage month with them.