Obrigado, Mr. Speaker.
I am pleased to rise today and tell the member for Davenport how much we appreciate her motion. I think it represents a step in the right direction.
Quebec and Canada are societies and communities of people that come from all over the world. With the exception of the first nations and Inuit people, we are all sons and daughters of more or less recent immigrants, some families having settled here earlier than others.
We often say that our diversity is our strength, a slogan that can sometimes ring a bit hollow. We need to live with other people, participate in cross-cultural dialogues, and celebrate together to see just how true this really is and to realize how lucky we are to live in a peaceful, tolerant, inclusive, and diverse society where we can meet people from all over the world. As parliamentarians, we need to recognize that.
The member for Davenport's motion seeks to celebrate our diversity and one community in particular, which is very dear to me for several reasons that I will talk about in the few minutes that I have to speak.
Strong ties between Newfoundland, Quebec, and the rest of Canada and the Portuguese community have existed for a very long time. As far back as the 16th century, Portuguese fishermen would sail the coast of Newfoundland and even make contact with the people living there. Monuments have been erected to remind residents of that connection and of the presence of fishermen and people from Portugal off the coast of Newfoundland and sometimes even on the island.
I did some research, and the first known permanent Portuguese immigrant supposedly arrived in 1677. His name was Pedro da Silva and he was from Lisbon. Mr. da Silva was a family man, and in fact, had 15 children. It is believed that most of the da Silvas in Quebec and Canada today are probably descendants of Mr. da Silva, who arrived in 1677.
In certain communities I know in Montreal, some of which I am lucky enough to represent, the Portuguese community has very deep roots, although the vast majority of Portuguese people began arriving in the 1950s. A strong, vibrant, hard-working community has been established and has integrated well. We know that these are very hard working and entrepreneurial people. They love their gardens, love food, and love making things grow. There are apparently at least 25,000 people of Portuguese descent in Quebec. Most of them are in Montreal, but some have more recently moved to Laval.
I have the good fortune of living in a neighbourhood where my neighbours on one side are Chinese, Fred on the third floor is from Haiti, and then on the second floor we have international students from France. My neighbour on the other side, Annibal, is an older gentleman originally from Portugal. I have to thank Annibal because he takes care of keeping the front of our house very clean every morning. He is there for us. He is extraordinary and he always says hello to us. He is a very nice man.
The closest grocery store to us is a cornerstore called Marché Sá et Fils. It is currently being run by two brothers, Benny and Eddy. My wife and I know them well. There is also the late Fernando, their other brother who disappeared, unfortunately. They know us well because my wife and I are not always very organized and we end up going back to the store two or three times in the same day to get milk, butter, or the ingredient or vegetable that we forgot.
In the neighbourhood, on the corner of Rachel and Saint Urbain streets, there is the Santa Cruz church, a very important place to the Portuguese community. It opened its doors in 1986. Another church already existed in the neighbourhood, but it was too small.
It is a big, beautiful church, awash in colour and bustling with life and activity. During the summer, the Portuguese community begins its traditional religious processions at the Santa Cruz church, and those processions often go right by my house. It is always very interesting to see, and participants even give out food sometimes. These processions are traditions that come from Portugal's Azores and Madeira islands.
Just recently, there was a large parade of Portuguese Canadians that was much louder than the usual religious processions. It was when Portugal won the Euro 2016 final against France 1-0. For a while, I was living in the loudest neighbourhood in Montreal. Everyone was in the streets waving flags and honking their car horns. We came out of the house with our children and walked around and celebrated with our Portuguese friends, who were extremely proud of their victory.
That is how we celebrate diversity in real everyday life, when we are close to a community like this. That is why I am so pleased to see this motion to make June Portuguese heritage month and declare June 10 Portugal day.
I also want to say that Festival Portugal International de Montréal was celebrated for the fourth year in a row this past June, giving thousands of people the opportunity to enjoy Portuguese traditions such as good food, dancing, and music. I hope that the festival will continue to be held for many years to come. I am certain it will, since we are extremely proud to have friends from Montreal and Quebec of Portuguese heritage.
In closing, I am pleased to say that we will proudly support the member for Davenport's motion to help celebrate our friends from the Portuguese community.