It has been a year already since Alma Latina Online Magazine was first published.  As I wrote in that first editorial on March 1st last year, it started out as a fun project, something that had been a dream of mine for the many years that I’ve been in the media.  We had many plans and dreams for what we wanted to accomplish and the initiative has grown exponentially and has strengthened immensely over the past 12 months.  Having attended the first ever Ignite Durham event, we developed a clearer vision of what we are about at this juncture and what we hope to achieve in the years to come.

Alma Latina Online Magazine is in essence an online bilingual English/Spanish publication that aims to bring together Hispanic Canadians who live in Durham Region and the GTA and surrounding areas, but also thousands of non-Hispanics who visit Latin America and fall in love with Hispanic culture.  Alma Latina, which literally means “Latin Soul”, also seeks to become a bridge between both, highlighting Durham Region and Toronto in general as a destination to live and play.  As a journalist, I have tried to bring the experience I’ve acquired in my over two decades of being in this industry, always trying to provide our readership with top quality original content including interviews, event reviews, and also highlighting interesting places to visit and providing useful information to our many readers in both languages.

Hispanics have a lot more to offer than sizzling music, hot women, passionate men and spicy foods.  In an article published in the Globe& Mail in November of 2011, it was stated that the number of Hispanic-Canadians is currently reaching 1 to 1.2 million people in Canada.  Of them, more than 50% have at least a Bachelor’s degree and another 12% have a non-university diploma.

There are a lot of contributions Hispanic Canadians have made to Canadian culture and society.  Amongst us, there are not only entrepreneurs, scientists, intellectuals and academics, but also just regular hardworking people who want a good, happy life for their families and a good future for their children.

We like to ski and snowboard (well, some of us do) and we also enjoy outdoor ice skating.  Some of us love to play hockey and some of our kids have even joined hockey leagues, just like many Canadians do all the time.  Those of us who live in Toronto cheer fervently for the Maple Leafs, the Raptors and the Blue Jays.  But World Cup of Soccer time comes, and all the flags are taken off the trunk and dusted off, as people come out to cheer loudly and festively for their individual countries (or Spain or Brasil, for those of us whose country of origins never qualify.)

We vote in elections and criticize the government and politicians when they screw up.  Like any Canadian, we have become intrinsically connected with Canadian society and issues, and yet, there’s always that connection with our native countries.  I can tell you that in my home we still eat rice and beans, just like we would back in Nicaragua.  We watch American Idol and the news, but just as well we watch Don Francisco and we’re still hooked on our telenovelas.  It’s a cultural mesh that somehow works.

We do love our tropical music: our salsa, merengue, reggaetón and bachatas, but we also enjoy rock, hip hop, pop and even classical music.  Our highly accomplished and gifted artists have rhythm and musicality in their souls and just as they can masterfully play some mean bongos and timbales, they are equally proficient at playing the piano and violin.

It is with a lot of hope in a better future for our community that Alma Latina Online Magazine aims to bring our readership helpful information.  But because we are also an inherent part of this country, we want all of our non-Hispanic friends to share in our culture and be a part of it as well, but rest assured that we are also a vital part of mainstream Canadian culture.  There are many more things that bring us together rather than separate us, and Alma Latina is hoping to continue bridging that gap and to work together highlighting the achievements of the Hispanic Canadian community, but also highlighting our experiences as mainstream Canadians as well.  There’s a lot that can be done if we all grow and improve together.  Access to information is key and that’s why we have tried to make our mission and mandate to be able to provide it to all of you, our readers, and to continue doing so in the foreseeable future.