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The rather cool, damp morning may not have contributed to draw a larger crowd to our first Spanish-language Alma Latina “Networking Breakfast” event last Monday morning, but the information provided by our presenters was of great interest as we enjoyed a rather intimate gathering. In commemoration of the now Canada-wide “Hispanic Canadian Heritage Month”, we heard from Mónica Linares, who attended the event representing both the Toronto Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Hispanic Canadian Heritage Council. Joining us that morning was also Nancy Granados, who is vying for a seat at the City of Pickering City Council in Ward 1, shared with us her motivation to run and the challenges she has encountered as a woman, a Latina (of Salvadoran descent) and as the youngest candidate running for the position.

Mónica was excited to share the great news not only of the recent appointment of Argentine-Canadian Member Parliament Pablo Rodríguez as Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism, but also of the proclamation of October as Hispanic/Latin American Heritage Month now throughout all of Canada. October had been proclaimed “Hispanic Heritage Month” in a number of provinces as of the last three years. To mark this historic event, the official announcement took place at a Gala Opening Reception that was also attended by Peruvian-Canadian Senator Rosa Galvez and Toronto Mayor John Tory.

Throughout the month of October, and to honour the richness of our Latin culture, Linares highlighted a number of events that are already taking place, and will be for the rest of the month, to celebrate such an important occasion. An important highlight of the month is the “Toronto Latin American Film Festival-LATAFF, an appointment in our city with the very best of Latin American cinema, and a celebration of our cultural diversity through the great stories told in this selection of movies from the whole Spanish speaking continent. Proudly presented by the Hispanic Canadian Heritage Council, in collaboration with the City of Toronto, the Latin American Studies at the University of Toronto, and the Art Gallery of Ontario, the 2018 edition of the festival features movies from Peru, El Salvador, El Salvador/Canada, Cuba, Mexico, Colombia, Chile, Chile/Canada, Venezuela, Ecuador, Argentina, and Nicaragua.”

Another initiative that will delight fans of Latin American cuisine is “Latin Cuisine”, that will have many of the best known Latin American restaurants offer traditional dishes at special prices, as a way to invite those who already love and those who have yet to try our delicious and flavourful dishes of traditional Latin cuisine. Linares pointed out that those who would like to see what’s being offered can visit the website at LatinCuisine.ca

Nancy Granados, for her part, is honouring, in a way, her Latin American roots, by running in an election for a seat in the City of Pickering municipal council— positions that have been traditionally held by Caucasian males. Granados is working with everything she can, and with the support of her family and friends, to change that. It’s been challenging, she admits. But she has been knocking on doors and talking to people who have been receptive to her message of change and of being open to a more diverse city council. One of the most important issues she is advocating for is housing affordability for young people.

Granados also explained that this is the first election where the voting, at least in the City of Pickering, will take place exclusively by phone and online. There will be no polling stations, she said, as a sort of pilot project to save some money and also, in a way, to entice young voters to participate. Young voter participation— or rather lack of it— has plagued municipal elections for as long as they have existed. This is one more thing Granados would like to see change, and this is something she knows all too well, being the youngest candidate to be running in her Ward. The way it will work, she explained, is that voters will receive information in the mail, along with a pin number. Each voter will then have a week (October 15 to 22) to cast their ballot online. Other municipalities will have only online voting, a mixture of in-person and online, or just in person. The City of Pickering is one of the few to only allow voters to cast their ballot online.

Below are some other initiatives that celebrate Hispanic/Latin culture in the next few weeks:

Hispanic Heritage Flag Raising Ceremony: Saturday, October 13, 2018, Vaughan City Hall

“Gracias a la Vida” Art Exhibition, October 2-13 – Facebook Event Page

Alucine Latin Film + Media Arts Festival, October 3-6 AlucineFestival.com 

RCM’s Concerts: Amanda Martinez on October 27 and Quique Escamilla on November 2nd.

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Toronto Mayor John Tory salute to Hispanic Community

Message Mayor John Tory to LATAFF 2018

Thanks Mayor John Tory for your support to our Hispanic / Latin American Heritage Month celebrations every year. And special thanks for your greeting to our Toronto Latin American Film Festival 2018. To see the complete program of LATAFF 2018, go to www.lataff.ca

Posted by Toronto Latin American Film Festival on Tuesday, October 2, 2018

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