Latin American Heritage Month Act

An Act respecting Latin American Heritage Month

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is, or will soon become, law.

Summary

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”.

Elsewhere

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.

Votes

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

Motion in AmendmentLatin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 6th, 2018 / 6:15 p.m.
See context

NDP

Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, QC

Madam Speaker, I note that this bill mentions the diversity of Latin American communities in Quebec and Canada, since Latin Americans come from various countries and states, and the important contributions they have made to the broader communities around them, to community spirit, to the economy of our cities and towns, and to the social fabric of our country. The presence of communities with which Quebeckers share a certain affinity, similar values and culture, and where there is mutual recognition, contributes a great deal to our communities, and that is what I want to acknowledge about this bill.

Quebec's intercultural project is based on this ability to live together and work together to build a community. This involves recognizing our shared values and the contributions of every individual, which are shaped by his or her personal experience and cultural background.

It is also the reason why this bill proposes that Quebeckers and Canadians learn more about the contributions of Latin American Canadians, to provide an opportunity to remember and recognize them. That is what designating a Latin American heritage month would do. It would allow us to learn about the achievements of Latin American Canadians in communities throughout Quebec, particularly in our own neighbourhoods, like Longueuil and Saint-Hubert, where I live. The same holds true in communities across Canada that have been enriched by the contributions of people from many different backgrounds.

There is a reason why October has been proposed for Latin American heritage month. As mentioned in the bill, October is an important month for Latin Americans. Fall is a time when many Latin American countries, including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Chile, celebrate their independence.

Many of these countries were among the first former colonies to declare independence in the 19th century, and some became models of republican harmony. They projected the idea that racial segregation could be consigned to the dustbin of history, along with colonial institutions and economic exploitation.

There are other reasons why this bill proposes making October a month for celebrating Latin American communities. October was chosen because of certain traditions and customs. We know that it is a significant month in Latin America and South America, since it is the month when Costa Rica celebrates the Day of Cultures, Venezuela observes the Day of Indigenous Resistance, Argentina marks the Day of Respect for Cultural Diversity, Brazil has its Children's Day, and various Latin American cultures celebrate the Day of the Dead.

We feel that dedicating the 10th month of the year to our Latin American communities would give members of those communities an opportunity to share these cultural traditions with their neighbours. The bill also notes that this event would bring people together and give them a chance to share and celebrate this rich cultural heritage.

A little while ago, L'Actualité published a profile of Quebec's Latin American community that highlighted the strong kinship between Quebeckers and the tens of thousands of members of that community, who often refer to themselves as Latino-Quebeckers. According to the article, 90% of Latino immigrants choose to learn French when they settle in Quebec. The community has a political presence in Quebec too, with people like former minister Joseph Facal and the member for Honoré-Mercier, who is originally from Argentina.

Our cities bear witness to the political history of these peoples. The statue of Simón Bolívar located five minutes from here, just off Rideau Street, was a gift to Canada from Venezuela, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. We also have Salvador Allende Street in Laval, a tribute to the former Chilean president who was assassinated in a coup d'état. Let us not forget Quebec City's Parc de l'Amérique-Latine at the mouth of the Saint-Charles River, which pays tribute to great figures in Latin American History, such as poet, writer, and Cuban national independence hero José Martí, Haitian independence hero Toussaint Louverture, and military leader Bernardo O'Higgins, a hero who fought for Chilean independence.

However, those who have left the most indelible mark on Quebec are the men and women who made a life here. Thousands of people from various Latin and South American countries now live in Quebec City, Gatineau, Sherbrooke, and the area I am from, Longueuil and Saint-Hubert.

At the Nouvelle Vie church in Longueuil, there are Venezuelan, Peruvian, Cuban, and Quebec musicians. The Sacré-Coeur-de-Jésus church on Brodeur Street hosts colourful family celebrations.

Since I was elected in 2011, one of the encounters that stood out for me was the one with Marco Carpinteyro, who has worked with the Table Itinérance Rive-Sud for many years and who, to me, is one of the greatest examples of community involvement. Although Marco does a lot of work in the community, and everyone back home in Longueuil agrees, I am sure that if you asked him what he is most proud of, he would say his children. He teaches them about his heritage every day, since the most beautiful language of all is the one spoken by our children.

It is in our best interests to actively create stronger relationships with Latin American countries, to build cultural bridges, and to share our ambitions with trade blocs like Mercosur. The Latin American communities established here, in Quebec and Canada, can help facilitate these joint projects. These communities and their heritage also make unique contributions to our culture and to the spirit of community in Quebec.

I am very proud to highlight these contributions today and to support this proposal to designate a Latin American heritage month that we can celebrate in all of our communities every year.

Latin American Heritage Month Act

June 6th, 2018 / 6:20 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Madam Speaker, it is a delight to speak in the House tonight about Bill S-218, an act respecting Latin American heritage month.

I want to honour the memory of the hon. Senator Tobias Enverga, who first brought the bill forward in the Senate. The senator passed away recently, which was a real shock to everyone. He was loved by all, and he was considerate of all.

It is important to note that the reason Senator Enverga brought the bill forward was that he noticed that there were other heritage days. There was German heritage day, Italian heritage day, and Asian heritage day. There is nothing wrong with that, but he felt it was important, with 500,000 Latin American Canadians living in Canada and contributing richly to our society, that we honour them as well with a special heritage month.

There are those who get tired of the different days, weeks, and months we have. They feel that perhaps they all become less special when there are so many of them. However, I think that is because we, as parliamentarians, are more aware of them. We come every day to the House and there are ribbons to wear for a certain occasion, or a flower of some sort, or some little thing. We are aware of all the days we celebrate different events, but not everyone is aware of them. The Latin American community in Canada, and people who enjoy the Latin American community, will be very happy to share in this month.

I thought I would give the House a bit of exposure to Latin American culture through my eyes as I have travelled around the world. My first experience with Latin American culture was in Colombia. I decided, when I was 25, that I was going to take a trip and experience the world. I went to a small village in Colombia. I loved the people immediately. I was at a resort. I was taught to dance. The Latin American people are well known for their excellent dancing. Their dance moves are incredibly stylish, and the men just seem to know how to dance. In fact, it is alleged that the government whip is an incredibly good dancer. I have not seen it myself, but I would not be surprised, because the Latin American people are great dancers.

Because I learned to dance, when I returned, I would go to Toronto to a salsa club there, and the Latin American crowd would be there. It was such a festive environment.

That was my first exposure.

One of the others things I loved was the food I experienced. When I travelled globally for Dow Chemical, I went to Argentina, Chile, Brazil, and all over the place, and I really experienced different cuisine. I also spent quite a bit of time in Mexico. I absolutely love Mexican food.

Some of the rich experiences I had were with the way they put on their meals. The people in Brazil have a tradition called churrascaria. It is a dinner where they bring a lot meat. The meat comes on long swords, and people are given paddles with a green side and a red side. If people want the meat to keep coming, they keep the green side up. When they want the meat to stop coming, they turn the red side up. It is amazing. There are different cuts. It is very enjoyable cuisine, and the experience was very special.

The cuisine in Mexico was mostly good, although I did have a couple of experiences with the local specialities of ant eggs and crickets, which I ate, but I would not include it in what I consider to be fine Latin American cuisine.

I also experienced the work ethic of the Latin American people, which is excellent. With Dow, I was in charge of quality globally. I had the opportunity to do an audit in Brazil. I have audited all over the world, and I have found things amiss or not correctly done. In Brazil, I was amazed. Everyone was doing their jobs, everyone was following procedures, and there were no defects to be found. I said, in surprise, to one of my Brazilian counterparts that everyone was doing everything they were supposed to do. He said, “Of course they are, because if they don't, they are fired.” The discipline, the work ethic, of the Latin American people is something to be admired. Their productivity should be as well.

From an employee satisfaction point of view, in every plant Dow had in a Latin American community they were the happiest people and the most productive people.

I have had involvement in a number of other countries and different experiences. I was involved in a mission trip to Nicaragua and was exposed to the people there, and even the ones who are living in a lot of poverty are so loving and hospitable. They have such a passion for life, family, and God. I really embrace those values. The people who have come to Sarnia—Lambton from a Latin American community have brought those values with them to the community. There are more Latin Americans living in Ontario and Quebec than in the rest of the country, so we are more fortunate. However, I know that people across Canada will be able to experience the culture of those people and the love they have for our country. They are fiercely loyal and patriotic, and having a month to celebrate them makes a lot of sense.

This bill picks October because of the celebrations that go on in different countries during that month. For example, there is Día de las Culturas, the day of the cultures, in Costa Rica; Día de la Resistencia Indígena, the day of indigenous resistance, in Venezuela; Día del Respeto a la Diversidad Cultural, the day of respect for cultural diversity, in Argentina; Día de las Américas, the day of the Americas, in Uruguay; and, in Brazil, the feast day of Our Lady of Aparecida and Día das Crianças, children's day. Puerto Rico and Chile also wrap up their independence celebrations in October, and many countries, such as Mexico, end October with a three-day celebration called Día de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, a celebration of their ancestors. That is why we are picking October for this month.

I am not exactly sure why the party to the left decided that it wanted to remove the short title. I think the short title, “Latin American Heritage Month” is fine. It describes exactly what it is.

I want to give some information about the different countries that make up the Latin American public, just in case people do not know. We talked about Mexico and Columbia already. El Salvador is on the list, as well as Peru, Brazil, Chile, Venezuela, Argentina, Cuba, Guatemala, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Honduras, Paraguay, Uruguay, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Panama, and Puerto Rico. A lot of those countries I have not yet been to, so there are a lot of Latin American experiences I can have globally, and I still have years to do that.

Meanwhile, everybody should embrace the Latin Americans who have come to Canada. Everyone in the House should support this bill. We will have a lot of fun celebrating Latin American heritage month. I am sure the food will be good. I am sure the dancing will be good. I am not sure I will be dancing very well. There are YouTube videos out there that show me trying to do a tango to Madonna's Material Girl, but I will leave that for people to find.

We could honour the people by recognizing the contribution they have made in helping to build our country and our communities, and bringing that passion for love, life, family, and God to our country.

I am going to wrap up by saying again that I appreciate Senator Tobias Enverga's bringing this bill forward in the Senate. I appreciate the member for Thornhill being the sponsor here in the House and paying this the attention it deserves. I am pleased that this would join the many other heritage days we have, such as German Heritage Month, Asian Heritage Month, Italian Heritage Month, and all the other days, months, and weeks we celebrate in the House. It is something worth celebrating, and I will be very proud to enjoy all the cuisine, the dancing, and the passion on those days.

Latin American Heritage Month Act

June 6th, 2018 / 6:30 p.m.
See context

Parkdale—High Park Ontario

Liberal

Arif Virani LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage (Multiculturalism)

Madam Speaker, gracias and obrigado. I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill S-218, an act respecting Latin American heritage month. This bill recognizes the contributions of the Latin American community to Canada and seeks to establish the month of October as Latin American heritage month.

Canadians of Latin American origin have been foundational in communities across our country going back to the early 1970s. The government supports Bill S-218 as a meaningful way to reflect on and celebrate the significant contributions that Latin American Canadians have made, and continue to make, to the social, economic, and political fabric of this country. It also gives a unique opportunity for all Canadians to celebrate Latin American culture and its traditions.

Before going into further details about the important contributions of this community to Canadian society, let me begin by outlining the principles that support the fabric of Canada.

As was stated in the 2015 Speech from the Throne:

As a country, we are strengthened in many ways: by our shared experiences, by the diversity that inspires both Canada and the world, and by the way that we treat each other.

Given the strong and growing presence of individuals of Latin American ancestry, formal recognition of Latin American heritage month will provide us with a terrific opportunity to recognize the contribution of this community in celebration of our diversity and our inclusive society here in Canada.

It is important to note that the term "Latin American" can be used to refer to communities from the parts of the Americas where Spanish or Portuguese is the main language, and it refers to all people originating from the geographic area of Latin America. This includes Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking communities, as well as francophone communities and the indigenous peoples of the region.

The “Latin American” reference was the one preferred by the late Senator Tobias Enverga, who introduced Bill S-218 in the Senate in 2016. We thank him for that contribution to Canadian parliamentary business and for the legacy he is leaving with this bill. Senator Enverga explained that he consulted members of the communities and the public and gave consideration to taking on a more inclusive framing or terminology to the commemoration.

That is why the bill refers to “Latin America”, which includes Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela, as well as Puerto Rico, the French West Indies, and other islands.

As we all know, immigration has played, and will continue to play, a key role in the development of our country. Canada offers a way of life that attracts thousands of newcomers every year.

The first wave of Latin American immigrants arrived in Canada in the early 1970s, with the arrival of about 68,000 people.

I will digress for a moment to say that I personally had the privilege to work with dozens of persons of Latin American heritage as a young student in 1995, in my first year of law school at the University of Toronto. As a law student, I was working with an entity called the Centre for Spanish-Speaking Peoples, on Bathurst Street, just south of Dupont in downtown Toronto. The CSSP was a small clinic, but it was vital for Latin Americans, primarily refugee applicants, who confronted challenges with navigating the legal system and our immigration laws. That experience was extremely formative for me in many ways, not just in terms of my development and training as a young lawyer, but also in terms of my knowledge, understanding, and exposure to Latino culture.

Canadians of Latin American heritage continue to make major contributions to Canadian society in ways that build a strong and prosperous nation. Noting this continued credit to Canada, let me say a few words about some prominent Canadians of Latin American heritage.

In terms of academics, Professor Alejandro Adem, a Latin American Canadian of Mexican descent, has made important contributions to the field of mathematics. Professor Adem has been a professor in the department of mathematics at the University of British Columbia since 2005 and holds a Canada Research Chair. He is currently the CEO and scientific director of Mitacs, Canada.

With respect to sport, Mauro Biello, born in Montreal and of Latin American heritage, was the head coach and director of player personnel for the Montreal Impact professional soccer team for eight years. Prior to joining the Impact’s coaching staff, Mr. Biello had a 19-year professional playing career, including 16 seasons in Montreal. In 389 career games played with the Montreal Impact, Mr. Biello scored 77 goals and 67 assists for 221 points during the regular season, playoffs and championship games.

I would note for the record that I have had the pleasure of personally observing the passion of the Latin American community for football in the city of Montreal, when I watched a match with a colleague, the member for LaSalle—Émard—Verdun. We watched the Toronto team, TFC, take on Montreal Impact two years ago during the elimination matches. Although, as the member for Parkdale—High Park, I was cheering for my local squad, I was extremely impressed with the engagement of the 60,000 people who filled the Big O in Montreal for that match. The passion they showed for those players, many of whom were Latin American, was palpable.

I could go on and on about the contributions of Latin Americans to the sport and to the beautiful game. One need only think of the Spaniards, their European championships in 2008 and 2012, and their victory in Mondial 2010. We think of Cristiano Ronaldo and the Portuguese victory in 2016. There is Lionel Messi, from Argentina. As a specific fan of No. 10 for the Argentinian squad and for FC Barcelona, of course I need to recognize the significant contributions of Messi. The list of contributions of Latin Americans to athleticism, culture, and academics goes on and on.

Over the years, Latin American communities have brought their rich and vibrant culture to our country. Several Spanish-language newspapers, magazines, and newsletters are published in Canada, such as the Toronto-based El Popular. Theatre presentations, poetry recitals, and art exhibitions are common in larger communities, such as those across the city of Toronto, including Parkdale—High Park, where we have a strong and vibrant Latin American community. Indeed, dance and music groups are active throughout Canada and throughout our urban centres. Latin American writers, poets, painters, singers, chefs, and journalists have become well known in Canada.

I would be remiss not to mention the reference that was made to the chief government whip and the contributions of Latin American culture to the fine art of dance. I, too, appreciate the finer aspects of Latin American dance. It is with great pride that I declare that I, in fact, met my wife at a salsa class, so clearly Latin American culture brings people together. This August, we will have been married for 13 years.

Different groups, associations, and festivals promote and share Latin American culture in major Canadian cities, such as Toronto, which has been recognized as the most multicultural city on the planet. For example, Latin American-Canadian Art Projects is a Toronto-based not-for-profit arts organization dedicated to the implementation of arts projects, promoting Latin American art in Canada with an emphasis on artistic excellence.

The Confédération des associations latino-américaines de Québec, a not-for-profit organization, supports members of the Latin American community in the Québec City area and organizes various cultural activities. I could name many other examples in other parts of the country. Canada is recognized worldwide for its successful approach to multiculturalism. We are succeeding culturally, politically, and economically because of our diversity.

Let me reinforce the fact that Canada's multicultural heritage and identity are more than just a commitment to welcoming diverse people from around the world. It is a commitment to the principles of equality and freedom, grounded in human rights and enshrined in the Canadian Constitution and the Multiculturalism Act. That act's predecessor was the adoption of multiculturalism policy by Pierre Elliott Trudeau in 1971, a gesture whose statutory manifestation, the Multiculturalism Act, is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. What better year to declare October Latin American heritage month in Canada to celebrate that community and its vast contributions in Canada toward diversity, which is truly our greatest strength.

Latin American Heritage Month Act

June 6th, 2018 / 6:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Peter Kent Conservative Thornhill, ON

[Member spoke in Spanish]

[English]

Madam Speaker, this is yet another opportunity to talk about Latin American heritage month and Bill S-218. Let me acknowledge again the support this bill has received from all sides of the House since it arrived here from the Senate.

This legislation essentially recognizes the many significant contributions to Canada's social, economic, cultural, and political fabric made by Canada's dynamic Latin American community. As I have done on every occasion I have spoken to the bill, I would like to again remind colleagues and those watching on CPAC tonight that this legislation, carefully fashioned by our late colleague, the hon. Senator Tobias Enverga, will I am sure stand as a notable element of his political legacy.

In a moment I will speak of my admiration and unrestrained support for the bill, but first I would like to read just a couple of paragraphs from a speech delivered by Senator Enverga when he spoke at second reading in the other place.

He reminded his colleague that he came to Canada from the Philippines and that he was one of many people now in the Senate who were fortunate enough to be welcomed to Parliament, and to be able to contribute to society. Senator Tobias Enverga pointed out that, “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.” He said, “The Canadian policy of multiculturalism is a great success when it comes to allowing for, and celebrating, the various cultural backgrounds and languages we have”, and share.

The Senator referenced other heritage months that moved him to propose one for Canadians of Latin American descent. He talked about the importance of Black History Month, proclaimed in 1995, and about Asian Heritage Month. He anticipated Italian Heritage Month and Portuguese Heritage Month, both passed into law just last year, and this year we celebrated Jewish Heritage Month.

Before I get to the bill he created, the process and legislation before us today, I will provide a little background on this great Canadian.

Tobias “Jun” Enverga was respected by all for his kindness, warm sense of humour, and his unparalleled work ethic. He was a family man, self-described as surrounded by four lovely women, his daughters Reeza, Rocel, and Rystle, and his wife Rosemer. He was a tireless advocate for people with disabilities. Tobias served as a Catholic School Board trustee in Toronto for years and became known in the Toronto region for launching the Philippine Canadian Charitable Foundation and its fantastic annual Pinoy festival and trade show, which, by the way, is next Saturday at the Toronto Convention Centre. Senator Enverga was also co-chair of the Canada-Philippines Interparliamentary Group, and inaugurated the annual Filipino independence day flag raising on Parliament Hill, which I am sure many members of the House will attend on Monday morning.

During his years at the Senate, Senator Enverga was a member of several standing committees. He participated in a variety of important studies on issues ranging from first nations northern housing to maritime search and rescue operations. Also, and this is very important to remember, Senator Enverga was an executive member of the ParlAmericas group. He invested his energy in forging closer ties with parliamentarians from across Latin America, helping them to strengthen democracy and governance in their countries through political dialogue and parliamentary co-operation. It was his work with ParlAmericas that moved him to propose the bill before us today.

As we know all too well, Senator Enverga passed away Thursday, November 16, while on parliamentary business in Colombia. Despite his tragic and untimely passing, Senator Enverga's Latin American heritage month bill lives on. It was passed in the other place a couple of weeks later and sent to us in the House.

Some of my colleagues in the House may remember that Senator Enverga introduced a bill in the 41st Parliament, Bill S-228, to create a Hispanic heritage month, matching such designations by the Province of Ontario and the City of Toronto. However, that bill was lost on the Order Paper in the election of 2015.

Senator Enverga, after further consultation with members of the public, reconsidered the reintroduction of that legislation and decided instead to change the focus in this bill to “Latin American”, as a geographic and linguistic community, which adds not only the Lusophone and Francophone communities, but also those of the indigenous peoples of the Latin American region. This was not a snap decision. Senator Enverga pondered long and deeply the issues of self-identification of the diverse Latin American community in Canada. He became convinced that a Latin American heritage month would better enhance our understanding of the complexities involved and believed this act would better respect the spirit of the Canadian Multiculturalism Act of 1988.

Latin America is 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 official languages.

For the purposes of this bill, Senator Enverga envisioned the widest possible interpretation so Bill S-218 would cover those who identified as Spanish and Portuguese speakers from South America and Central America, as well as those whose heritage was of the Francophone and Hispanic Caribbean Islands.

Using that broad and inclusive measure, we can see that Canadians of Latin American origin can be found far and wide across our great country from coast to coast to coast. In the absence of absolute census numbers covering that broad, and I think members would agree somewhat imprecise measure, we might estimate a possible 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, for example, the number of individuals reporting Latin American origins rose by 32%, at a time when the overall Canadian population grew by only 4%.

With respect to actual numbers, the demographers can only estimate that between 600,000 and 1.2 million Latin Americans, again from the broadest possible measure, live among us. These numbers are particularly interesting, given there was only a small Latin American population in Canada before the 1960s. It was in the sixties and seventies that we recorded the first significant migration of Latin Americans to Canada. Unfortunately, in too many cases, their motivation was to escape social and economic turmoil, dictatorships, conflict, and most recently another wave, fleeing Venezuela's corrupt and repressive regimes under, first, Hugo Chavez, and now the brutal Nicolas Maduro. These Latin Americans represented significant loss to the countries they left, but they have been a boon to Canada.

I could speak to the virtues of supporting Bill S-218, a bill to bring Latin American Heritage Month to Canada, but I must stop there. I move:

That, when the order for consideration of Bill S-218, an Act respecting Latin American Heritage Month is next called, the time provided for the consideration of any remaining stage of the bill be extended, pursuant to Standing Order 98(3), by a period not exceeding five consecutive hours.

Latin American Heritage Month Act

June 6th, 2018 / 6:50 p.m.
See context

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak about the legislation before us, for two reasons. One of the strong messages that our Prime Minister sends to all regions of our country is how proud we are of Canada's diversity and all the benefits that are derived from it. No matter where we go in Canada, we see a great number of people with such diversity and appreciation for what we are as a nation. We are a multicultural nation with a great sense of pride in our diversity.

Before I comment on the legislation, I want to speak about Senator Enverga. I knew Senator Enverga in my capacity as a co-chair. He and I were co-chairs of the Philippines-Canada Friendship Group, and we were able to accomplish a great deal. In fact, shortly after the friendship group was formed, Senator Enverga was appointed to the Senate. Shortly after being appointed to the Senate, he and I had the opportunity to meet and talk about the Philippines. He had values that many of us share, a passion and love for the Philippines and the desire for a healthier relationship between Canada and the Philippines.

My friend across the way referred to another issue that Senator Enverga was behind, and that was the flag-raising ceremony. In fact, this Monday, at 11 o'clock on the steps of Parliament, there will be a flag-raising ceremony, and I suspect there will be a few tributes to Senator Enverga.

As the current chair of the Philippines-Canada Friendship Group, I would be wrong not to mention that we will see all members of the House, members of the Filipino community, and others participating in that activity. Then at one o'clock in the Commonwealth Room, special guests will be talking about the importance of the very special and unique relationship between Canada and the Philippines. I invite all members to participate.

That said, we are having a wonderful debate on a very important community, and no one more is more engaged than the government whip, who is full of passion for anything Latino. The government whip is a very proud individual and has worn the Philippines' colours on his shoulders on many different occasions. Others in the chamber have also made reference to the Latino factor that the government whip carries with him wherever he goes.

I will now get back to diversity. As the Prime Minister has often said, diversity is one of Canada's greatest strengths, and we need to celebrate that. Recognizing Latin America heritage month in the month of October would do all sorts of wonderful things. It would provide members in the House, members in the other place, and anyone who has an interest in promoting the contributions of Latin America and the countries that make up Latin America with the opportunity to share that wealth of culture, whether it is festivities, clothing, foods, their hard-working attitude, or the many contributions made by our Latin American community. It is a community that continues to grow in great numbers in Canada today, and I believe that community will continue to grow.

Focusing on Winnipeg, I am a big advocate of Folklorama, a two-week celebration of Canada's diversity. There will be performances in a number of pavilions. It is worth noting that it is not easy for these pavilions, because they are open seven days a week and run by volunteers. There will be all sorts of cultural displays, dances, food, and an overall super-fantastic time. One gets to explore the world by participating in Folklorama.

I did a quick guided tour of the Folklorama website while I was listening to my colleagues across the way. Members will be very happy to hear that there are four easily identifiable pavilions, and I will share some of the comments.

For example, the website shows the Brazilian Pavilion, and says:

Come out and see our high energy show! Live music coupled with live entertainment will take you on a tour of Brasil. Relax in air-conditioned comfort as you sample the tasty cuisine and cultural beverages of Brasil. Cachaça cocktails and Brazilian beer will have you feeling like you are a heartbeat away from the amazing Brazilian beaches, while our nonalcoholic drinks will refresh your taste buds. The fun never stops and you can enjoy yourself late into the night during our Friday late night party! For Saturday, there might not be a late night party, but don't worry we will be holding a late night show!

However, this is not the only Latin American pavilion. We have two solid weeks. In the first week, we will have two pavilions from Latin America, and the following week two demonstrations on Latin America. For example, the website shows the Chilean Pavilion, and says:

Head into the warm embrace of the Chilean people as you experience food, drink, and dances from the various regions of Chile, including the north-central, south and Easter Island...Enjoy the lively Latin stylings of our own “QUIDEL” dance group, as well as long-time performers, Chile Lucha y Canta. Be sure to try a Chilean favourite–borgoña, a drink made with cold red wine and strawberries. Then dance the night away at our late night parties on Friday and Saturday, complete with live music from local band Descarga Latina!

Folklorama is a celebration that takes place every year in Winnipeg, and will get 200,000 visits. It encompasses a large number of volunteers. This is why I think it is important that we have these heritage months. People should be proud of their heritage and their homeland countries. When we see the celebrations of people from countries all over the world, we are the better for it.

I mentioned two of the four pavilions. However, the hours dedicated to this are not just to put together a pavilion during Folklorama, but also for other activities virtually year round. We have young people engaged in their culture and the heritage of their homeland and are sharing it with others year round. This is why, when I think of having a Latin America heritage month, it is more than just an opportunity for MPs and senators to go out and promote, but, more importantly, it is for all individuals to have an opportunity to explore all the things they can do in the month of October.

For example, if one is a school teacher in a junior high or high school, it provides an opportunity to recognize the contributions of Latin America. October would be the month recognized by Parliament as Latin American heritage month, and teachers could take advantage of it by organizing a lunch program or after-school program and invite community members out. It is a wonderful thing that can really promote what makes Canada great.

This is our diversity, and we need to be proud of our heritage. Our Canadian heritage is made up of people from countries around the world. I, for one, am a very proud Canadian.

Latin American Heritage Month Act

June 6th, 2018 / 7 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Stephanie Kusie Conservative Calgary Midnapore, AB

Madam Speaker, I am very happy to rise today in support of this bill.

[Member spoke in Spanish]

[English]

It is great to be here tonight. I am certainly very much a lover of Latin America, having spent much time there and really having grown to love not only the region but the Latin American people as well. It is a rich culture that I enjoy very much.

I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel with my family to different countries in Latin America when I was growing up. However, how I really got to know Latin America as a diplomat in the Canadian foreign service. I was very fortunate to have postings across Latin America. I had a posting in Buenos Aires, a very beautiful city in Argentina. It is truly like the Paris of the south. During that time I had a lovely apartment in a region called Recoleta. I had a lovely opportunity to take tango lessons and to view the beautiful museums there. I should add that I am a fan of Evita Perón, so it was very good to get to know one of my political idols during that period of time as well.

I went on to become the chargé d'affaires in El Salvador, in San Salvador, for two years. What a beautiful nation it is, in terms of the volcanoes, the beaches, the ruins. I very much got to know and love the people, despite the many challenges there: the gang violence, the drug trafficking. These are very challenging things, but I felt very proud of the work I was doing as a Canadian diplomat to combat these things. I sat through many earthquakes, measuring four or six on the Richter scale. It is very uncomfortable and unnerving, but something that we became accustomed to living in Latin America.

I was also very fortunate to serve for one year as a policy adviser to the member for Thornhill, who of course is a major part of this bill here today. We had an incredible experience as a team working with Canadians in relation to Latin America. We have some very fond memories together. I remember in 2009 going to Honduras in an effort to negotiate the end of a coup with the Organization of American States at the time. I remember flying there and being whisked through what was a very high-security environment at the time. We really were in lockdown as we worked on behalf of Canada, but also for the Latin American people, to try to help them go down the path of democracy. That is something I have always welcomed, with the previous Harper government. I follow Jason Kenney in my riding, but certainly there were others. There were John Baird and Prime Minister Harper himself, who were very big supporters of democracy in the Americas. I was very pleased to serve under the former minister of state for the Americas in this capacity. It truly was an honour and a privilege.

I have always enjoyed the warmth of the Latin American people. They are incredibly chaleureux. They will always welcome people into their home, be it with a pupusa in El Salvador or a wonderful steak and a nice malbec in Argentina. They are very warm people, and yet I also appreciate the formality in Latin America. Latin America is a place where history and culture are very important, and institutions that are very important for Conservatives such as the family, the church, and these things. I have always felt a very strong affinity for this region and its people.

Of course, I am very sad to say that there are certainly some challenges faced in the Americas. They are no stranger to oppressive regimes, having lived under several dictators. I think, for example, of Pinochet in Chile who was in power for years. As well, in El Salvador, where I served, they struggled with civil war. I was very fortunate to be there in 2007, celebrating the 15-year end of the El Salvadoran civil war. That was something very special during my time there. I am very fortunate to have had these incredible experiences.

Unfortunately, we are still seeing lingering problems with democracy in Latin America to this day. I remember, during my time in the minister of state of the Americas office, monitoring ALBA and the Bolivarians.

Very recently we have seen the terrible happenings in Venezuela with the oppressive regime there, and the elections, which of course are not at all valid by our democratic standards. They certainly causes concern for us as Canadians. More recently, Nicaragua is getting to a point that is very concerning, which I hope the government will speak out on, as they have with Venezuela.

That is a big part of what this bill is about, supporting the ideas of democracy, justice, free markets, all of these principles that we, in the Harper government, supported so very strongly and will continue to support and promote, not only in Latin America but around the world as well.

I do have some concerns about the historic actions of the government, in particular the words of condolence by the Prime Minister at the death of Castro, which to me, unfortunately, seems to speak of support for a communist regime. I know that as a Conservative government, we were always in absolute support of the dissidents.

As a policy adviser, I continually looked for ways for us to be a mediator. Indeed, 2008 to 2009 was a very exciting time to work with the minister of state for the Americas because it was during the Obama era and we were looking at the Helms-Burton Act being re-opened and at both missions being re-evaluated. We were looking at visitation rights for Latin American people in America being revisited too.

The relationship between Canada and the Americas always been very dear to me. I will say again that the principles that Conservatives stand for as the official opposition are democracy, justice, the rule of law, and free markets. We will continue to support these things in Latin America. We would encourage the government to do the same, as well.

I would be remiss if I did not recognize all the wonderful new Canadians that Latin America has given to us. I am very fortunate to have many of them, both in my riding of Calgary Midnapore, as well as the city of Calgary. These new Canadians from Latin America have been a major force in the oil and gas sector. Latin America really has given us some of their best and brightest, in terms of engineers, geophysicists, and these types. I have a statistic here that as of 2016, Latin Americans in Canada numbered close to half a million, or some 447,000.

In conclusion, I would just like to say that I love Latin America, I love Canada, and I see no reason why we should not all support a Latin American heritage month.

[Member spoke in Spanish]

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

May 8th, 2018 / 6:05 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Stephanie Kusie Conservative Calgary Midnapore, AB

[Member spoke in Spanish]

[English]

Mr. Speaker, I certainly have a very strong tie to Latin America, in fact many strong ties to Latin America. That is why I am here to speak in support of Latin American heritage month. I think this is something very important for Canadians, and certainly for Canadians of Latin American descent.

My ties are many. They go back, first of all, to much leisure time spent exploring Latin America with my family. We find that it has a very rich culture. We enjoy the food, the geography, the beaches, the ruins, the churches, and the climate. It is a wonderful place to go, a wonderful place to visit.

There is Mexico, for example, but in addition, other places where I have had the opportunity to serve as a diplomat for Canada. First of all was Buenos Aires, Argentina. It is just a gorgeous country, a gorgeous place. I was very fortunate to reside in a lovely community called Recoleta. It was wonderful to spend time there learning the culture and its rich history in terms of culinary experience, fashion, and the many good things it has to offer.

I also had the very good fortune to serve as the chargé d'affaires for the Government of Canada in El Salvador for two years. That was an incredible experience, an incredible opportunity. I really came to love the Salvadoran people, and pupusas as well, a delicious treat. It was a wonderful time for me and is another reason I very much love Latin America.

I had the honour and privilege to work for the sponsor of this bill, my colleague, the former minister, and still member of Parliament for Thornhill, while serving as his policy adviser when he served as the minister of state for foreign affairs. I remember very fondly our good times in Latin America. I remember going to Honduras to negotiate, after the coup, with the Organization of American States and the special times we shared together in Latin America. That is another reason I am very proud to speak to this bill and to encourage my colleagues to support this bill.

As I mentioned, I have a history of diplomacy in Latin America. Latin America is very much known for the warmth of its people. I am very pleased, every time I go to Latin American countries, to have the opportunity to meet more people from the region. I developed some very close friendships, in my time in the diplomatic corps, with many Latin Americans, relationships I continue to this day.

I actually very much appreciate the formality of diplomacy in Latin America. This is a place that honours tradition, respects roles, and respects a history of tradition and diplomacy in the region. A fond memory I have is when I received my accreditation in El Salvador as the chargé d'affaires. I remember being whisked through the streets of San Salvador in a motorcade. It was just incredible. I remember ascending the steps of the presidential palace. The president and the first lady were there to greet me with such warmth and such hospitality as the new chargé d'affaires with the ambassador at the time.

Latin America really has a special place in my heart. I always joke that part of me is Latina. I very much love and cherish this region.

Unfortunately, I will say that Latin America is not without its historic challenges, and there are many of them. We certainly know that the decades of the 20th century were filled with oppression by a number of dictators. For example, I think of Pinochet in Chile and the oppressive regime of that time. In Argentina, I cannot help but think of Videla and the oppressive regime created during that time.

There were definitely some challenges within this region. In addition to dictators, I could also mention the oligarchy, which has ruled its people through time.

In addition to these oppressive regimes, there have been the unfortunate circumstances of terrible civil war within Latin America. I think, for example, of Colombia and the FARC, and the disarray this created within that country, the drugs and murders as a result of this civil war, the instability and, the poverty that these situations brought to a nation, which is very tragic for its people.

I cannot help but mention the civil war in El Salvador that lasted for so many years with the FMLN, which, interestingly enough, went on to govern. When I was there, it was the time of ARENA, which was more right wing, so I was favourable to that. I was very proud to be there for the celebration in El Salvador of the 15-year end of the civil war. This was very monumental and it was very special for me.

If there was something good to come of these unfortunate circumstances, it was that these Latin Americans, in these hard times of oppression and civil war, looked for somewhere else to go, and one of those places was Canada. We were very proud, as a country and as Canadians, to welcome American Latinos with open arms, and we continue to do this.

I cannot describe the respect and love that many Latin Americans have for Canada. When I was the chargée des affaires in El Savador, I could not get my nails done without someone asking me about a visa in an effort to come to Canada. The people loved Canada so much and they wanted to visit or be part of the country. It is very special.

What a gift these people have been to Canada. My own riding of Calgary Midnapore has welcomed so many engineers, geologists, people who have contributed to our rich natural resources sector. I believe at last count in 2016, almost 500,000 people considered themselves to be of Latin American origin residing in Canada. For me, it is very special to honour these people, their heritage, and all that they bring to Canada in having searched for a better life.

It is with sadness that the effects of these oppressive dictatorships and the civil war have lasted. Throughout the time I was in my colleague's office as a policy adviser, we were still watching ALBA. We were looking for the Bolivarian influences. Since then, there was something much worse and more difficult, and that was the historic Cuban regime, the Castro regime, as well as Venezuela, which continues to be a place of struggle at this time. Not only is it enough that these regimes exist present day in Latin America, but it is with regret that the government across the aisle continues to support these regimes.

In fact, I can only describe the strong words spoken by the Prime Minister at the funeral of Fidel Castro as shameful and very disrespectful to the people who chose to come to Canada and make it their home. In addition, I would encourage the government to continue to stand up for Venezuela and Venezuelans who are suffering as conditions continue to deteriorate.

I am proud to be part of a Conservative Party that has always stood for democracy, justice, and prosperity, and under Prime Minister Harper had an appreciation for the Americas. I am proud to be part of the legacy of Jason Kenney and former foreign affairs minister John Baird. For all these reasons, supporting this bill will show support for democracy, prosperity, and justice across Latin America. It will show Canadians of Latin American origin how much we support them. That is why I ask all members of the House to support the bill to have a month of recognition for American Latinos.

[Member spoke in Spanish]

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

May 8th, 2018 / 6:15 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez Liberal Honoré-Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very happy and proud to speak today to Bill S-218, introduced by the late Senator Tobias Enverga, who left us much too soon. I also want to talk about his vision for this bill and his desire to acknowledge and highlight the historic contribution that the Latin American community has made to Canada. I am part of this community, since I was born in Argentina. I am Argentinian, Canadian, and Latin American.

I came to Canada with my family many years ago, when I had a bit less grey hair. My father was a lawyer for political prisoners, and he then ran for governor in one of the provinces. During this period, he was imprisoned and tortured many times. Shortly before his exile and our departure from Argentina, two bombs were placed in our home while my two parents, my young sisters, and I slept. We were all injured in the attack. It became very clear at that point that leaving was our only way to survive, and that is what we did.

We arrived in Canada just before the winter. We came from northern Argentina, where it was 45 to 50 degrees in the summer. We came here in late fall, and not long after, there was a snowstorm. It was the first of the year, and it was quite a shock. I did what all immigrants have done or should do: I adapted. I traded my soccer cleats for skates and a hockey stick, and I learned to speak French.

This is a roundabout way of saying that there are thousands of Latin Americans who experienced the same thing during that time and who came to live here in Canada. Those Latin Americans who came here from all over, for political or other reasons, contributed to shaping Canada as we know it. In a way, they added some spice.

How many Canadians learn Spanish today? How many people have danced to Latin music? Who does not know Shakira and Carlos Santana? Who has not danced to Despacito? I am sure that my colleague has danced to Despacito. How many Canadians ate at a Mexican, Salvadoran, or Honduran restaurant this week? That is what Latin America is about and more. When we celebrate Latin American heritage month, that is more or less what we celebrate together.

I mentioned Carlos Santana, Shakira, and Despacito, but I also could have talked about mariachi music, the tango that is danced in the street in Buenos Aires, or the rhythms of La Compagnie Créole, which we know and love back home in Montreal and throughout Quebec.

It is impossible to talk about Latin America without talking about literature. How many Canadians have read the novels of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, such as One Hundred Years of Solitude, Chronicle of a Death Foretold, or Love in the Time of Cholera? Let us not forget Mario Vargas Llosa, Jorge Luis Borges, and Pablo Neruda. How many of us have read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho? Many of us have. This is all part of Latin American culture.

Of course, it is impossible to talk about Latin America without mentioning its contribution to sport and to soccer, which we call fútbol. I am thinking of Brazil's five world cups, Uruguay's two, and Argentina's two. I am thinking of great players such as Pelé, Messi, and Maradona. I am thinking of how creatively Chile and Colombia play the game. Here at home, we have Ignacio Piatti, an Argentinian who plays for the Montreal Impact in the city I am honoured to represent.

I could go on and on about so many other things, such as Latin America's influence in the fields of medicine and science. I could talk about the Maya, who grew cacao hundreds of years before it was exported by European conquistadors, or about corn, which was cultivated all across the Americas and, like cacao, is now eaten, enjoyed, and prized around the world.

Latin America is also home to indigenous peoples. I am sure members will agree. Indigenous peoples flourished all across the continent. They created many languages and dialects and built major civilizations. The most famous ones are the Inca people in Peru and the Maya and Aztec peoples in central America and Mexico. Theirs were major civilizations that made significant contributions to the world over the centuries.

I could go on, but I want to spend some time talking about the Latin American community here in Canada. First off, I would say that it is a very varied and diverse community. Its members come from every corner of Latin America. It is also a young community, since 50% of its members are under the age of 25. Furthermore, it is a thriving community. Factoring in both immigrants and the children of immigrants, I would say that about 1 million people are here today because of immigration from Latin America. These people are from all over, and they can be found everywhere. They are artists, doctors, restaurant owners, musicians, teachers, managers, athletes, and sometimes even politicians. There are not many of those, but there are a few. These are the people that this bill honours.

Bill S-218 “recognizes that members of the Latin American community in Canada have made significant contributions to the social, economic and political fabric of the nation”. The objective of the bill is to designate the month of October as Latin American heritage month. Why October? As my colleagues stated, October is an important month for us and for the Latin American community. Many Latin American countries celebrate their independence day in October. It is also a month when Mexico, Brazil, Costa Rica, Uruguay, and Venezuela celebrate many religious or other holidays.

I salute the member for Davenport, who has helped me organize Hispanic Day on the Hill for the past two years. The tradition will continue next year with Senator Rosa Galvez, who is of Peruvian descent and is joining the team in order to organize an even bigger event. All my colleagues in the House are invited, of course.

There are many other things happening. I am thinking of ParlAmericas, which plays an important role in the dialogue between parliamentarians for the Americas. I am also thinking of different parliamentary friendship groups, such as the Canada-Costa Rica, Canada-Argentina, Canada-Mexico, and Canada-Cuba friendship groups.

Bill S-218 highlights all of this. This bill recognizes the contribution of our fellow Canadians of Latin American origin, and now we must promote this contribution.

In closing, I would like to again acknowledge the late Senator Enverga's initiative. May the passage of this bill honour his memory and ensure that his dream becomes a reality. I would also like to thank the member for Thornhill for agreeing to sponsor the bill, thus ensuring that Senator Enverga's dream will become a reality.

I will close by saying long live Latin America and long live Canada.

[The member spoke in Spanish.]

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

May 8th, 2018 / 6:25 p.m.
See context

NDP

Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to stand here today and salute the contribution of Latin Americans, people from Latin American countries, and their presence in Quebec, particularly in my riding of Longueuil—Saint-Hubert.

I would like to take advantage of this opportunity to thank the authors of the bill and my colleagues here in the House who are responsible for bringing this bill forward for our consideration today.

The bill before us today invites Parliament to recognize that members of the Latin American community in Canada have made an invaluable contribution to Canada's social, economic, and political fabric. It also suggests that designating a Latin American heritage month will allow Canadians to learn more about this contribution, and ensure that it is never forgotten. We know that Latin American communities from across the country would take advantage of Latin American heritage month to celebrate and share their unique culture and traditions with all Canadians. We also know that October is an especially important month for Latin American communities the world over.

The bill therefore proposes that October be designated Latin American heritage month throughout the country.

The bill mentions the diversity of Latin American communities in Quebec and Canada, since Latin Americans come from various countries and states. It also mentions the important contributions they have made to the broader communities around them, to community spirit, to the economy of our cities and towns, and to the social fabric of our country. The presence of communities with which Quebeckers share a certain affinity, similar values and culture, and where there is mutual recognition, contributes a great deal to our communities, and that is what I want to acknowledge about this bill.

Quebec's intercultural project is based on this ability to live together and work together to build a community. This involves recognizing our shared values and the contributions of every individual, which are shaped by his or her personal experience and cultural background.

It is also the reason why this bill proposes that Quebeckers and Canadians learn more about the contributions of Latin American Canadians in order to provide an opportunity to remember and recognize them. That is what designating a Latin American heritage month would do: allow us to learn about the achievements of Latin American Canadians in communities throughout Quebec, particularly in our own neighbourhoods. I do not want to appear biased, but of course everything is better in Longueuil and Saint-Hubert. The same holds true in communities across Canada that have been enriched by the contributions of people from many different backgrounds.

There is a reason why October has been proposed for Latin American heritage month. As mentioned in the bill, October is an important month for Latin Americans. Fall is a time when many Latin American countries, including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Chile, celebrate their independence.

Many of these countries were among the first former colonies to declare independence in the 19th century, and some became models of republican harmony. They projected the idea that racial segregation could be consigned to the dustbin of history, along with colonial institutions and economic exploitation. For that, they deserve to be honoured.

There are other reasons why this bill proposes making October a month for celebrating Latin American communities. October was chosen because of certain traditions and customs. We know that it is a significant month in Latin America and South America, since it is the month when Costa Rica celebrates the Day of Cultures, Venezuela observes the Day of Indigenous Resistance, Argentina marks the Day of Respect for Cultural Diversity, Brazil has its Children's Day, and various Latin American cultures celebrate the Day of the Dead.

We feel that dedicating the 10th month of the year to our Latin American communities would give members of those communities an opportunity to share these cultural traditions with their neighbours, in a spirit of harmony. The bill also notes that this event would bring people together and give them a chance to share and celebrate this rich cultural heritage.

A little while ago, L'Actualité published a profile of Quebec's Latin American community that highlighted the strong kinship between Quebeckers and the tens of thousands of members of that community, who refer to themselves as Latino-Quebeckers. According to the article, 90% of Latino immigrants choose to learn French when they arrive in Quebec. The community has a political presence in Quebec too, with people like former minister Joseph Facal and the member for Honoré-Mercier, who is originally from Argentina.

Our cities bear witness to the political history of these peoples. The statue of Simón Bolívar located five minutes from here, just off Rideau Street, was a gift to Canada from Venezuela, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru.

We also have Salvador Allende Street in Laval, a tribute to the former Chilean president who was assassinated in a coup d'état. Let us not forget Quebec City's Parc de l'Amérique-Latine, which was established at the mouth of the Saint-Charles river to pay tribute to great figures in Latin American history, such as poet, writer, and Cuban national independence hero José Martí, Haitian independence hero Toussaint Louverture, and military leader Bernardo O'Higgins, a hero who fought for Chilean independence. They are legion, but those who have left the most indelible mark on Quebec are the men and women who made a life here. Thousands of people from various Latin and South American countries now live in Quebec City, Gatineau, Sherbrooke, and the area I am from, Longueuil and Saint-Hubert.

At the Nouvelle Vie church in Longueuil, there are Venezuelan, Peruvian, Cuban, and Quebec musicians. The Sacré-Cœur-de-Jésus church on Brodeur Street, right above our community centre, Entraide chez nous, hosts colourful, welcoming celebrations. Since I was elected in 2011, one of the encounters that has stood out for me was with Marco, who has been dedicated to the Table Itinérance Rive-Sud for many years and who, to me, is one of the greatest symbols of community involvement. Although Marco does a lot of work in the community, and everyone back home in Longueuil agrees, I am sure that if you asked him what he is most proud of, he would say his children, whom he teaches about his heritage every day, since the most beautiful language of all is the one spoken by our children.

It is in our best interests to actively create stronger relationships with Latin American countries, to build cultural bridges, and to share our ambitions with trade blocs like Mercosur. The Latin American communities established here, in Quebec and Canada, can help facilitate these joint projects. These communities and their heritage also make unique contributions to our culture and to the spirit of community in Quebec. I am very proud to highlight these contributions today and to support this proposal to designate a Latin American heritage month.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

May 8th, 2018 / 6:30 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Julie Dzerowicz Liberal Davenport, ON

Gracias, señor presidente. Buenas tardes.

Mr. Speaker, it is pleasure for me to rise in the House to speak to Bill S-218, an act to designate October as Latin American heritage month.

I want to thank the late Senator Tobias Enverga Jr., who left us way too soon late last year, for his leadership and for sponsoring the bill.

I also want to thank my colleague, the member for Thornhill, who is the sponsor of the bill in this venerable House.

Members may not know this but my mother is Mexican. She was born in a small town called El Recodo in Mexico. It is internationally-known for its band music, and for a band called Banda el Recodo. Later in life she moved to Mazatlán, which is a beautiful seaside beach resort town, where she met my father. They then moved to Canada. That is why I was born here. Her name is Maria Amparo Lizarraga Zatarain. Although my last name does not reflect it, I am a very proud Mexican Canadian and a very proud Hispanic Canadian.

I am so pleased that in my downtown west riding of Davenport I have a growing Hispanic community that is very diverse. We have a number of people from North America, Central American, and South America. I have Mexicans, Ecuadorians, Chileans, Salvadoreans, Guyanese, Colombians, Peruvians, and so many others from this amazing part of the world.

We also have many celebrations of the Latin American culture in Davenport, including the very popular Salsa on St. Clair. This is a very popular festival that tends to take place the first weekend in July. Thousands of people from right across the city come out to sing in Spanish, to celebrate their different cultures, the different parts of Latin American and Central American cultures, and also to learn how to salsa. We turn St. Clair into a big dance floor, and it is a wonderful celebration.

In my riding of Davenport we also have a number of programs for the Hispanic community, including a very popular seniors program, which is at the Davenport-Perth Neighbourhood and Community Health Centre. I would like to give a shout-out to Mariela and Lumy for all their work in keeping our Hispanic seniors healthy, active, and engaged. I hope at some point to bring all of them up to the Hispanic Day on the Hill, which my colleague from Honoré-Mercier and I organize with Senator Rosa Galvez.

Bill S-218 is super important. It sets aside a specific time of the year to celebrate and educate fellow Canadians about the unbelievably talented Hispanic and Latin American communities in Canada. Should the bill pass, October will be the month that is dedicated as the time to honour the contributions of Hispanic Canadians in Canada.

I do not know if members know this, but an annual award is given to the 10 most influential Hispanic Canadians. These awards have been happening for 11 years. They are given out to an amazing pool of Hispanic and Latin American leaders. They are leaders in business, science, art, academics, law, media, and in so many other areas. I want to mention a few of them. I happened to have a chance to meet with them last week.

I want to mention Amanda Martinez, who is a world-renowned musician and artist, a Juno-winning artist, as well as winning international awards. We have Ana Dominguez, who is the president of Campbell Company of Canada. We have Mercedes Rowinsky-Geurts, who is a former dean and professor at Wilfred Laurier University. We have Dr. Alejandro Adem, who is the CEO of Mitacs Inc. As members can hear, there are lots of amazing, talented Hispanic and Latin American Canadians here in Canada. They serve as an inspiration to not only the Hispanic community but all Canadians.

We are doing a number of things in Ottawa to promote the Hispanic and Latin American culture. Earlier, my colleague from Honoré-Mercier mentioned that both he and I organized Hispanic Day on the Hill. We started it two and a half years ago when we first came to office. We recognized that there was no opportunity for us to elevate, at the national level, an event that celebrated the amazing talents and diversity of the culture, as well as the contributions of all of the amazing Hispanic community to Canada.

Last week I had a wonderful opportunity to host a number of leaders. There were 20 top-10 Hispanic leaders of Canada here. They came and met with the Minister of International Trade and the Minister of Science and Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities on issues of great importance to the community. Some of the issues we talked about were how to invigorate Canada's thriving start-up culture, how to create more awareness for Hispanics and Canada's creative class, and how to provide more support for migrant workers. The list goes on, but we had a wonderful discussion with a number of ministers. It was very successful, and I was delighted to be able to host them on the Hill.

Canada has recognized the magic and opportunity of Latin American countries. Indeed, we have engaged quite a bit in trade agreements with our Latin American counterparts. The first one that included a number of Latin American countries is the CPTPP. It includes 11 countries, a lot of which are in Asia, but Mexico and two from South America, Peru and Chile, are also included. We are looking forward to expanding our trade relations through that agreement.

About two months ago, we launched negotiations for Mercosur, which is the South American trading bloc composed of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay, with a combined population of 260 million people and a GDP of over $3 trillion. I am delighted we have one agreement in place. We also have a Canada-Chile trade agreement in place. We are working hard on Mercosur. This will absolutely further cement a deepening trade relationship between Canada and Latin and Central American countries, but it will also deepen our cultural and personal ties with each of these countries.

I want to also mention we have a number of youth mobility agreements, particularly with Chile and Mexico. These agreements allow youth from our respective countries to travel to each other's countries to work or study so we can learn more about each other. Ultimately, this helps strengthen the relationships between our respective countries, and I think it bodes well for our future.

As a final mention, I have been working on a number of very important issues within the Latin American community as a commitment from our government. We have been working a lot in terms of making sure agricultural workers' rights are supported in Canada. Many of these workers come from Mexico, do a wonderful job, and are temporary foreign workers. We have put money in budget 2018 to ensure that their rights are protected and they are treated well here. We have also put some money aside to ensure non-profit groups have the ability to help support these agricultural temporary workers here in Canada. They ensure that they know their rights, and if they have any issues, they can communicate with them in their own language on how to address them.

We are putting money into promoting multiculturalism. We have also given some teeth to an ombudsperson, who is able to ensure Canadian companies in the mining industry in different sectors around the world—in particular Mexico, Latin America, and South America—adhere to human and environmental rights. We are doing a lot in terms of taking advantage of the opportunities before us in Latin and Central America, and we are looking forward to building stronger relations.

I know that my time is up. I want to end by saying I am thankful for the opportunity to speak on this very important bill. I encourage all my colleagues in the House to support it. As our Prime Minister always says, Canada is stronger because of our diversity. Indeed, the Hispanic community has enriched our culture, our community, and our lives, and Canada is a better country for it.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

May 8th, 2018 / 6:40 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Peter Kent Conservative Thornhill, ON

[Member spoke in Spanish as follows:]

Gracias, señor presidente, y en adelante.

[English]

Mr. Speaker, I would like to acknowledge the enthusiastic support for Bill S-218, an act respecting Latin American heritage month, that we have heard again today from all sides of this House.

This legislation recognizes the many significant contributions to Canada's social, economic, and political fabric by Canada's Latin American community. This legislation, conceived and carefully fashioned by our late colleague and former senator, the Honourable Tobias Enverga, will stand, I am sure, as a major element of his political legacy.

As I noted when I tabled Bill S-218 on his behalf here in the House, Senator Enverga Tobias, known to his friends as “Jun”, was the first Canadian of Filipino descent to be appointed to the Senate of Canada. Born in the Philippines, he represented Ontario in the Senate since his appointment in 2012.

When Senator Enverga first spoke to Bill S-218 in the other place, he reminded colleagues that he came to Canada as an immigrant, one of many in the upper chamber today, who was fortunate to be welcomed to Canada. He referred to the spectrum of celebrations held across Canada by communities of various national, ethnic and linguistic origins.

He highlighted the two decades-plus annual celebration, for example, of Black History Month, which was recognized by this House in 1995 and by the Senate 13 years later. He explained that the designation of Black History Month has done much to educate and familiarize Canadians with the stories and important history that is too often absent in school curricula.

He mentioned as well Asian Heritage Month, which was proclaimed in 2002, and marked annually ever since when non-Asian Canadians learn and experience the sounds, entertainment, and tastes of Asia, and celebrate the contributions Asian Canadians have brought to Canadian society. Those, Senator Enverga argued, are just two wonderful examples of designated heritage months to which, he believed, a Latin American heritage month should be added.

As colleagues have noted many times throughout this debate, Latin America is of our hemisphere. For the purposes of this bill, Senator Enverga envisioned the widest possible interpretation so that Bill S-218 would cover those who identify as Spanish and Portuguese speakers from South and Central America, as well as those whose heritage is of the francophone and Hispanic Caribbean Islands. Using that broad and inclusive measure, members can see that Canadians of Latin American origin can be found far and wide across our great country from coast to coast to coast. In the absence of specific census numbers, we might estimate a possible demographic well above half a million men, women, and children, perhaps as many as 1.2 million Latin Americans living among us.

When Senator Enverga originally approached me to ask that I sponsor his bill in the House, he explained that because I was a former minister of state for the Americas, he thought that I understood and greatly appreciated the wonderful mix and complexity of Canada's communities composed of those among us who originated from Latin America and that I would be able to put a voice to the message that led to the passage of Bill S-218 in this place. I hope that I have communicated the senator's worthy dream.

I, too, believe that declaring the month of October to be Latin American heritage month would offer to all Canadians an opportunity to celebrate yet another dimension of our uniquely Canadian multicultural society. I urge all members of all parties to support Bill S-218.

[Member spoke in Spanish as follows:]

Muchas gracias a todos.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

March 19th, 2018 / 11:05 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Peter Kent Conservative Thornhill, ON

moved that Bill S-218, an act respecting Latin American heritage month, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to speak in support of Bill S-218. However, as much as I am honoured to sponsor this proposed legislation, which recognizes the many significant contributions to Canada's social, economic, and political fabric by Canada's Latin American community, I do so with a measure of sadness, because this legislation was conceived and lovingly fashioned by our late colleague, the hon. Senator Tobias Enverga. Before I address the specifics of the legislation and the overwhelming logic behind it, I would like to speak to Senator Enverga's memory.

Senator Tobias Enverga, known to his friends as “Jun”, was the first Canadian of Filipino descent to be appointed to the Senate. Born in the Philippines, he represented Ontario in the upper house after his appointment in 2012. His was a proud and very positive voice not only for the Filipino community, but also for a host of others in the greater Toronto area and across the country.

Senator Enverga was a passionate champion of multiculturalism. He believed that Canada's wonderful, ever-developing diversity to be our country's greatest strength. He was respected by Senate and House colleagues alike for his kindness, his warm sense of humour, and his unparalleled work ethic. He was a tireless advocate for people with disabilities. He served as a Catholic School Board trustee in Toronto and became known in the Toronto region for launching the Philippine Canadian Charitable Foundation. He was co-chair of the Canada-Philippines Interparliamentary Group and inaugurated the annual Filipino Independence Day flag raising on Parliament Hill.

During his years in the Senate, Tobias was a member of several standing committees and participated in a variety of important studies on issues ranging from first nations northern housing to maritime search and rescue operations. As well, he was an executive member of the ParlAmericas group and invested his energy in forging closer ties with parliamentarians throughout Latin America, helping them to strengthen democracy and governance through political dialogue and parliamentary co-operation. It was Senator Enverga's work with ParlAmericas that moved him to propose the bill that is before the House today.

Senator Enverga died Thursday, November 16, while on parliamentary business in Colombia. Despite his tragic and untimely passing, Senator Enverga's Latin American heritage month bill does live on. It was passed in the other place a couple of weeks later, and it was sent to us in this House.

When Senator Enverga first spoke to Bill S-218, he reminded colleagues that he came to Canada as an immigrant, one of many in the upper chamber fortunate to have been welcomed to Canada. He referred to the spectrum of celebrations held across Canada by communities of various national, ethnic, and linguistic origins. He highlighted the two decades-plus annual celebration of Black History Month, recognized by the House in 1995 and by the Senate 13 years later. He explained that the designation of Black History Month has done much to educate and to familiarize Canadians with the stories and the history of an important demographic too often absent in school curricula previously. He mentioned as well Asian Heritage Month, passed and proclaimed in 2002 and marked annually ever since, when non-Asian Canadians learn of and experience the sounds, entertainment, and tastes of Asia, and the contribution that Asian Canadians have brought to Canadian society. Senator Enverga argued that those are just two wonderful examples of designated heritage months to which he believed a Latin American heritage month should be added.

Some of my colleagues in the House may remember that Senator Enverga introduced a bill in the 41st Parliament, Bill S-228, to create a Hispanic heritage month, matching such designation by the Province of Ontario and by the City of Toronto. That bill died in the election of 2015. Senator Enverga, after consultation with the members of the public, reconsidered the reintroduction of that legislation and decided to change the focus in the bill to Latin America as a geographic and linguistic community which would add not only the lusophone and francophone communities but also those of indigenous peoples of the Latin American region.

This was not a snap decision. Senator Enverga pondered long and deeply the issues of self-identification of the diverse Latin American community in Canada. He became convinced that a Latin American heritage month would better enhance our understanding of the complexities involved. He also believed it would respect the spirit of the Canadian Multiculturalism Act of 1988.

Latin America is 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 people 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 country from coast to coast to coast. In the absence of absolute 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 regimes under first, Hugo Chavez, and now, the brutal Nicolas Maduro. These Latin Americans represented 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.

That is where Senator Enverga's bill, Bill S-218, stands not only to deepen our appreciation and celebration of our Latin American community, but 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.

I know that hon. members enjoy a party. There are any number of events across the country that celebrate the multi-dimensional Latin American community. One perfect example is Toronto's annual Salsa on St. Clair. Last year's party, on a closed-off midtown street, drew hundreds of thousands of people, attracting more musicians, dancers, families, and Latino aficionados than ever before to enjoy the sounds, sights, tastes, dances, and all the colour of the Americas.

Senator Enverga's bill, Bill S-218, would designate the month of October each and every year as Latin American heritage month. Let me 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 Dia de las Culturas, the day of the cultures, in Costa Rica; Dia de la Resistencia lndigena, the day of indigenous resistance, in Venezuela; Dia del Respeto a la Diversidad Cultural, the day of respect for cultural diversity, in Argentina; Dia de las Américas, the day of the Americas, in Uruguay; and the feast day of Our Lady of Aparecida, the appearance, and Dia das Crianças, children's day, in Brazil.

Puerto Rico and Chile also wrap up their independence celebrations coming up to October, and many other countries, including Mexico, end October with the three-day celebration of Dia de Muertos, the Day of the Dead, a celebration of ancestors.

Of course, we cannot 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.

When Senator Enverga originally approached me to ask that I sponsor his bill in the House, he explained that, as a former minister of state for the Americas, I understood the wonderful mix and complexity of Canada's communities composed of those among us who originated from Latin America, and I would be able to put voice to the message that led to the passage of Bill S-218 in the other place.

I hope that I have communicated the senator's worthy dream. I believe that declaring the month of October to be Latin American heritage month would fulfill a wonderful opportunity to celebrate another dimension of our uniquely Canadian multicultural society. I urge members of all parties in the House to support Bill S-218.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

March 19th, 2018 / 11:15 a.m.
See context

Whitby Ontario

Liberal

Celina Caesar-Chavannes LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development

Mr. Speaker, I too would like to recognize and pay respect to Senator Tobias Enverga for introducing this bill, and I would like to thank the member for sponsoring it. It is incredibly important.

In his speech, Senator Enverga recognized the importance of Asian Heritage Month and Black History Month, looking at the rich colour, vibrancy, and culture of those groups, and now he has introduced Latin American heritage month, which includes the Caribbean, where I am from. As mentioned, I came here in the 1970s, so I can attest to a lot of the things my hon. colleague talked about.

As it is the fastest growing group in Canada, I am wondering if my hon. colleague could speak to how important it is for Canadians across the country to learn about and understand multiculturalism, and the intersectionality, heritage, and history of this group in our Canadian context.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

March 19th, 2018 / 11:15 a.m.
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Conservative

Peter Kent Conservative Thornhill, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for telling us about her fond remembrance of Senator Enverga.

The heritage months that have been recognized by the Parliament of Canada, by the upper house and this House, have at their heart, I believe, the unspoken intent of intercultural recognition, acceptance, and the celebration of Canada's wonderful diversity. They provide an occasion, on an annual basis, for subsequent generations to maintain that memory when there may be a tendency, in this case for those of Latin American heritage, to lose some contact with their language and culture.

We passed a bill just recently for Jewish Heritage Month. Canadians of Latin American origin, like those of black origin or Asian origin, do celebrate and maintain all of the best of their individual cultures and languages, as well as share them to enable all Canadians to join in the celebrations, in this case celebrations that would take place during the month of October.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

March 19th, 2018 / 11:20 a.m.
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NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Latin American community has contributed greatly to Canada, not just as immigrants, but also as temporary foreign workers. Many temporary foreign workers, particularly those who are seasonal workers, do not qualify for benefits they pay into, for example employment insurance.

To really honour the community and its contributions to Canada, would the member agree that we should align our government policies to ensure that those who pay into those programs qualify for the benefits and, more to the point, that if they are good enough to work, they are good enough to stay?