That, in the opinion of the House, the government should recognize the important contributions Canadian Portuguese have made to building Canada and to Canadian society in general, the cultural diversity of the Portuguese communities in Canada, and the importance of educating and reflecting upon Portuguese heritage and culture for future generations by declaring June 10 as Portugal Day and the month of June as Portuguese Heritage Month.
She said: Madam Speaker, it is with enormous pride and a sense of privilege that I rise in this venerable House to support my private member's Motion No. 126, celebrating the contributions of Portuguese Canadians to this great nation.
My riding of Davenport is blessed to have the largest Portuguese community in Canada. I truly believe that Canada and Canadian society is enriched by Portuguese culture, traditions, history, and language.
It is with enormous pride and privilege that I rise in this venerable House to support my private member's motion, Motion No. 126, celebrating the contributions of Portuguese Canadians to this great nation.
However, any discussion on settler community in Canada cannot start without first acknowledging and thanking the traditional stewards of this land. We are grateful to the indigenous peoples as we are gathered here today on the traditional unceded lands of the Algonquin people.
It is a pleasure to be back in the House this week with all of my colleagues. I want to thank members from all parties for supporting my motion. I would like to thank the , my Liberal colleagues, and especially the members of the Canada-Portugal Parliamentary Friendship Group, for all their encouragement and support. Of course, I would like to thank my staff for its hard work over the last few months and days.
It is also important to mention that the province of Ontario, the City of Toronto, and the public and Catholic school boards of Ontario all took the lead in recognizing June as Portugal heritage month and/or June 10 as Portugal day in their respective jurisdictions. I am building on their great initiatives and accomplishments, and I want to thank them for their leadership.
Finally, I would like to thank all of the Portuguese leaders, Portuguese clubs, associations, and the Portuguese media in my riding of Davenport and across the country. They have tirelessly promoted the Portuguese culture, language, and community and serve as an inspiration for this private member's bill. It is to honour them and their aspiration for the Portuguese to be recognized at the highest level of our nation and be celebrated for its many contributions to Canada, and equally to set the stage for the preservation and promotion of the Portuguese language, traditions, and culture for many decades and centuries to come.
[Member spoke in Portuguese]
There are approximately 16 million Portuguese around the world, from those who live in Portugal, including the Azores and the Madeira Islands, and other parts of the Americas, Europe, India, and Africa. However, when we consider Portuguese-speaking people, that number jumps from 16 million to 220 million.
Indeed, the Portuguese language evolved form Latin and became a compulsory language in Portugal under King Dom Diniz in the 14th century. For the following two centuries, the 15th and 16th, the Portuguese were known global explorers, such as Vasco de Gama, who discovered far off lands that at the time were unidentified and who discovered, in 1497, the first ocean route between India from Europe, connecting for the first time ever the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.
There is also Fernão de Magalhães, born in the northern part of Portugal, who, in 1519, led the very first expedition by ship that circumnavigated the world.
Poet Luís Vaz de Camões wrote the epic poem Os Lusíadas that interprets this exciting age of exploration and discovery of the Portuguese. Camões is known as Portugal's greatest poet and, indeed, the day of his death, June 10, is celebrated as Portugal's national day.
It was also around this time period, the 15th and 16th centuries, that the Portuguese were first identified as coming to the shores of Canada to fish off the coast of Newfoundland. In subsequent centuries, a number of Portuguese explorers made their way to Canada.
There are two great stories I want to share. The first is the story of Pedro Da Silva, Canada's first official letter carrier, who, on behalf of New France, delivered parcels and letters between Montreal and Quebec, beginning in 1705.
Then there is Portuguese Joe Silvey, born in Pico, Azores. Portuguese Joe came to Canada in 1860 via whaling schooner, and decided to stay, trying his hand at goldmining. He married an indigenous woman from the Coast Salish nation, became one of the founders of Vancouver's Gastown, and had 11 children, with many of his descendants still populating the B.C. coast today.
Just last year a monument was erected to honour him in Stanley Park. It honours the link between Portuguese and Coast Salish first nations cultures, marking the land's rich heritage and symbolizing unity for Vancouver's present-day diverse inhabitants. I love this wonderful connection between the Portuguese and Canada's first nations.
The first official group to come from Portugal, in terms of immigrants, arrived at Pier 21, Halifax, Nova Scotia on May 13, 1953. They came aboard a boat called the Saturnia steamship. Three to four more full boatloads came the year after. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, thousands of Portuguese immigrated to Canada to escape the poverty they experienced under the dictatorship of Antonio de Oliveira Salazar, considered the most oppressive and longest-serving dictatorship of western Europe. Many also left to flee the Portuguese Colonial War, Portugal's war against the nationalist movements in Portugal's African colonies.
In the early 1970s, our then prime minister Pierre Trudeau introduced the policy of multiculturalism, the first country in the world to adopt such a policy. It was this policy that paved the way in the early 1970s for Canada to create a pathway to citizenship for many of the tens of thousands of Portuguese who to this day are forever grateful to have been given a chance to start a new life in a country that has given them their freedom without having to give up their language, culture, traditions, and identity.
Indeed, now over 40 years later, the Portuguese are 500,000 strong, which includes up to their fourth generation. While their population is largest in Ontario and Quebec, they have vibrant communities right across this great land from the west coast in B.C., right to the east coast in Nova Scotia.
Members will also be very happy to know that many universities across the country now offer Portuguese studies, from the University of British Columbia, University of Winnipeg, York University, University of Toronto, and Brock University, to Université de Montréal. The University of Toronto celebrated 70 years of Portuguese instruction just this year. I want to thank and acknowledge university academics right across this country, including Manuela Marujo, Inês Cardoso, Maria João Dodman, and Carlos Teixeira for their tireless efforts to promote Portuguese studies in Canada.
More locally, in my riding, the First Portuguese Canadian Cultural Centre in Toronto has been teaching the Portuguese language since 1956. I want to give a shout-out to Celina de Melo, the current principal, for her tireless years of service to the school.
Today, it is gratifying to see Portuguese taught in schools right across the country. There are over 16 jurisdictions in Ontario, and a number of public schools right across the country, from B.C. through to Manitoba through to Nova Scotia.
Finally, I want to recognize the heroic work of Portuguese clubs right across the country. They work tirelessly to provide a space for their members to come together, to practise their language, and to celebrate their culture and traditions. There are over 150 clubs in Canada, and more than 20 in my riding of Davenport alone. I wish I had the time to mention each one of them, because they work hard and they deserve the recognition.
I want to thank each casa. I want to thank each organization, leader, board member, and all tireless volunteers for all that they do to keep their clubs active and relevant. It will not come as a surprise that so many Portuguese groups do a lot of fundraising to raise money for different initiatives in the community.
Two of my colleagues, the member for and the member for , told me of their great pride of the Amigos Portugueses do Peel Memorial for their extraordinary fundraising efforts for the William Osler Health System and for the Peel Memorial Centre for Integrated Health and Wellness.
I know that my Mississauga colleagues would tell me that they are so proud of the Luso Canadian Charitable Society Centre, headed by Jack Prazeres, that supports families and adults living with developmental and physical disabilities. Of course, I have to give a shout-out to the many female Luso groups, such as the Amigas de Toronto, raising money for cancer research and support.
We cannot talk about Portuguese clubs in Canada without mentioning ACAPO. The Alliance of Portuguese Clubs and Associations of Ontario does such an extraordinary job of bringing all the clubs together, doing the most ambitious programming for Portugal Week, and organizing the second-largest street festival in Toronto. I want to acknowledge José Maria Eustáquio for his leadership, and the leadership of their board and volunteers.
The Portuguese are highly established and very integrated into the Canadian diaspora. Many of the Portuguese when they arrived in Canada took construction and cleaning jobs. These honourable jobs helped hard-working Portuguese to support their families, buy homes, and contribute to their church and community. The Portuguese also raised citizens and leaders who currently serve in important roles and who are an inspiration to all Canadians. We know of many of them today.
There are two in the House. We have the MP for and the MP for . We have two provincial financial ministers: the hon. Charles Sousa and the hon. Carlos Leitão. We have a provincial member of Parliament, Cristina Martins and wonderful municipal leaders in Ana Bailão in Toronto, Frank Monteiro in Cambridge, Martin Medeiros in Brampton, and Nelson Santos in Kingsville.
The Portuguese even have their own Portuguese Walk of Fame, created in 2013 by Toronto-based community leader Manuel da Costa to recognize Portuguese Canadians in all fields for their outstanding achievements to our country.
From cleaners and construction workers who have built much of the infrastructure in Toronto and across Ontario, a very successful professional class of talent has emerged. The Portuguese business community is super-active.
A group called the Federation of Portuguese-Canadian Business Professionals was created to promote business activities, leadership, and Portuguese culture. This group has inspired an impressive list of civic leaders, including two of its founders, Armindo Silva and Fernando Dias Costa, and businessmen such as José Pinto and Louis Louro Jr. I have no doubt that under the current leadership of Michelle Jorge, the federation will play an integral role in building stronger economic ties to Portugal through the Canada-Europe trade agreement, which was just ratified today by the Portuguese parliament and which comes into force tomorrow.
I cannot mention groups in Canada without mentioning the fact that I have a very strong building trades union and construction union in my riding. There is no Portuguese fundraiser that is not supported by local 182 and local 506. I want to thank Jack Preset as division manager for his extraordinary leadership.
Our never tires of saying that diversity is strength. One could be a proud Portuguese and a proud Canadian and there is no conflict. Indeed, the Portuguese Canadians have shared much of their culture with us including their fado music; their great love of football, whether a Benfica, Porto, or Sporting FC fan; their amazing cuisine, whether it is the baccalhau, churrasquiera, quejos, amazing pastéis de natas; and their amazing world-class wines from Douro, Alentejo, or Dão regions.
Portuguese media is like no other I have ever seen. They are unbelievably strong for a community of its size, particularly in Montreal and Toronto. I would like to give a huge shout-out to Sol Português, Antonio Perinu; Correio da Manhã, Eduardo Viera, ABC, Fernando Cruz-Gomes; and PostoMilénio.
We also have wonderful TV programs with Omni, Sergio Mourato; and GenteTV, Nellie Pedro; and of course Portuguese radio CIRV that was created by Frank Alvarez.
The motion to enshrine June as Portugal heritage month and to designate June 10 as Portugal day in Canada is important not just for the obvious reason of ensuring we recognize the contributions of the Portuguese to Canada at the national level, and not just to promote the culture and language in years to come, but because by doing so we also reinforce and promote our Canadian values and serve as a model to the world.
This is especially important at a time when there is increasing racism and anti-immigration sentiment in too many countries globally. It is much easier to see our differences than our similarities. In Motion No. 126, we remind ourselves that we are stronger because of our differences and not in spite of them. Canada is a light and model for the world for showcasing that diversity is a strength.
The Portuguese have always been a people open to the world, a people who came to Canada and have successfully integrated into Canadian society, achieving great things and setting an example for the leaders of today and tomorrow.
I have no doubt that the Portuguese from every part of Canada will continue to play a key role in creating a better Canada. It is an absolute honour to be able to present Motion No. 126 today, celebrating the contributions of Portuguese Canadians to this great nation.
I am thankful for the opportunity to do so.
Mr. Speaker, before I begin today, I would like to share a quote with my colleagues that I came across while preparing for this speech. It is a quote from Summer Sanders:
To be a champion, I think you have to see the big picture. It's not about winning and losing; it's about every day hard work and about thriving on a challenge. It's about embracing the pain that you'll experience at the end of a race and not being afraid.
As Canadians, we are not shy when it comes to hard work and facing challenges, particularly in my beautiful riding of Haldimand--Norfolk, where we are not afraid to roll up our sleeves and get the job done.
When I think of my Portuguese friends at home, these are the traits that personify them completely.
Today, I rise to pay tribute to the Portuguese community within my beautiful riding of Haldimand--Norfolk on the south coast, north shore of Lake Erie, and I do so by sharing my thoughts on Motion No. 126.
This is the first time the motion has been debated in the House, so for my colleagues who are not aware of what the motion proposes to do, let me explain briefly.
Motion No. 126 was put forward by the member for and calls on the government to recognize the contributions made by the Portuguese community to building Canada and their contributions to Canadian society in general.
As a way of educating and reflecting on Portuguese heritage and culture for future generations, the motion proposes that June be declared Portuguese heritage month, and that June 10 be claimed as Portugal day. Before I go into why I am standing to support the motion today, please let me first share with the House a brief history about why this month and this day are important to the Portuguese community.
Every June 10, the Portuguese celebrate their national holiday known as Dia de Portugal, or Portugal Day, as it known to the rest of the world. While many Portuguese Canadians currently celebrate Portugal Day, the motion would solidify this day as a recognized cultural day right across Canada.
This date commemorates the death of Luis de Camoes, a significant figure in the history of Portugal. Camoes is best known for his work on Os Lusiadas, the national epic poem of Portugal that celebrates the nation's successes and its rich history.
Camoes was known to be an adventurer. His many escapades include surviving a shipwreck in the region of Cochinchina, now known as Vietnam, and losing an eye while in battle in Ceuta. Legend has it that in order to save the Lusiadas, Camoes had to keep it afloat with one of his hands while he used his other arm to swim through the unforgiving waters of the region's seas. Patriotism and bravery are just a few of the qualities that Camoes had that made the nation choose to celebrate Portugal Day in his honour.
Camoes, and his perseverance through his adventures, is a direct representative of the Portuguese people in my area. Their ability to see a challenge and overcome that challenge is, quite frankly, inspirational. I cannot think of a better way to honour them then by showing our support for this day and the motion.
In order for me to explain further why the motion is important to people where I live, I need to share with the House a bit of background on my beautiful riding of Haldimand--Norfolk and the wonderful people who live there.
There is no doubt that Canada is a diverse country. Many people come from all over the world to live here, and that is something that should make us all proud.
I do not have the largest Portuguese population in my riding, especially when it is compared with ridings like those of the member for . In fact, Haldimand--Norfolk is made up largely of people from countries such as Britain, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland, and Hungary.
The Portuguese people make up just shy of 3% of the population throughout Haldimand--Norfolk according to the latest census records. That is just over 3,000 people. That may not seem like a lot, but 3,000 people is the total population of many of the smaller communities in my riding if I were to lump them all together.
While the Portuguese community in my riding does not make up the same large percentage of the population as perhaps that of the member for and there may not be as many Portuguese in Haldimand—Norfolk now as there have been in past years, this group contributes immensely to the community. It is not just about the number of people, but the quality of those people and the action that those people choose.
In Haldimand—Norfolk, challenges are abundant. In order for many people in my community to provide for their families, hard work is often a requirement. It is not easy, but if they are not afraid to get some dirt on their hands, the opportunities are also abundant. All the Portuguese people I know make hard work look easy, even when we know that it is not. In fact, they welcome it with open arms, and that does not change whether that work is working in the home, or around the yard, working for an employer, or their very generous contributions as volunteers.
Not only does the Portuguese community welcome hard work, but they also welcome other people around them. I consider myself very fortunate to have good friends in our Portuguese community. In fact, whenever I visit them, they always make me feel at home.
I have one very special good friend who is a leader within the community and he often takes me to visit with his friends and even with his family. Whenever I enter their homes, I am always greeted with love and affection, just as if I were a direct member of the family. We share stories and we share wonderful food. We laugh and sometimes we cry from laughing so hard. Then, perhaps after too many carafes of Vinho Verde or Porto, I leave feeling even more like a family member than when I arrived.
Like hard work, this comes as second nature to the Portuguese community. I am proud to call them my friends, and I am honoured to support this motion. This is a community that could not be more deserving of this kind of recognition.
For my Portuguese friends at home and those in communities right across Canada, they truly are champions and they deserve this. Obrigada.
I am pleased to rise today and tell the member for 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 '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, Anibal, is an older gentleman originally from Portugal. I have to thank Anibal 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 's motion to help celebrate our friends from the Portuguese community.
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to speak in the House today in support of Motion No. 126, introduced by the member from . It seeks to have the House recognize the important contributions Canadian Portuguese have made to building Canada and to Canadian society. The and the government are proud to support the motion.
The motion seeks to acknowledge the cultural diversity of the Portuguese communities in Canada, and the importance of educating and reflecting upon Portuguese heritage and culture for future generations by declaring June 10 as Portugal day and the month of June as Portuguese heritage month.
Our country has a long and proud tradition of opening its arms to newcomers from around the globe. Because of this, we have become one of the most diverse countries in the world. The presence of Portuguese individuals in Canada contributes to that tremendous diversity.
People from all corners of the globe choose to leave their homes, family, and friends to come to Canada. When they do so, they know they will become part of a welcoming society with a strong commitment to inclusion, grounded in a proud tradition of multiculturalism. As the parliamentary secretary for multiculturalism, I know personally that newcomers play a critical role in developing our cultural diversity and economic strength, and in contributing to the vitality of our communities.
In 1988, our country became the first nation to proclaim a multiculturalism act, an act that requires we preserve and enhance the multicultural heritage of all Canadians. It also requires that we work to ensure that all Canadians are equal in our economic, social, cultural, and political life.
Our government is dedicated to preserving and enhancing the value of our Canadian diversity and strengthening our multicultural and pluralistic society. This commitment was clearly articulated in the Speech from the Throne, and is referenced in our cherished Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which includes a specific provision declaring that the charter shall be interpreted in a manner consistent with the preservation and enhancement of the multicultural heritage of Canadians.
As Canadians, we can never take this commitment to diversity and inclusion for granted. Our society has prospered, and will continue to prosper, thanks to the strides we have all made to ensure Canada remains a welcoming society for people from all corners of the globe, of different faiths and cultural backgrounds, who can feel proud in calling this country their home.
Parliament's support for Portuguese heritage month and recognition of June 10 as Portugal day will be in line with our commitment to diversity and inclusion.
Celebrating the rich diversity of our many multicultural communities is nothing new in Canada. In my riding, just this past weekend, we concluded a weekend of celebrating both the Polish and Ukrainian diasporas that exist in my riding of Parkdale—High Park, communities that I am very proud to represent in Ottawa. Each year, celebrations such as those are held in communities across the country to honour and recognize an incredibly diverse range of communities that call our country home.
On a national level, we have the celebration of Black History Month in February and Asian Heritage Month in May. These are two significant examples of Canada's commitment to acknowledging and highlighting the vital contributions of Canada's many diverse communities to our society.
By seeking to recognize the unique contributions of Canadians of Portuguese heritage who live in my riding and ridings around the country, such as Davenport, and ridings in Montreal, what we are doing today with this motion is continuing this quintessentially Canadian tradition of respecting and nurturing the pluralism that continues to make Canada the envy of the world.
Motion No. 126 presents us with another important opportunity to appreciate the commonalities that unite us, while helping to dispel negative preconceptions that may divide us. In celebrating our diversity, we learn about our common struggles and our shared values.
Portuguese heritage month and Portugal day would provide an opportunity to celebrate our diversity and for Canada's Portuguese community to share its unique culture, history, and traditions with all Canadians.
There was a national household survey in 2011. It indicated that approximately 430,000 people in Canada reported their ethnic origin as Portuguese. Additionally, Portuguese was the tenth most spoken non-official language in our country, with approximately 225,000 Canadian households reporting it as their primary mother tongue in the 2011 census. For those people, obrigado.
Canadians of Portuguese heritage from coast to coast to coast should feel welcome and duly recognized through the motion brought forward by the member for . Recognition of Portuguese heritage month would be in keeping with the recognition already given in my home province of Ontario, with the largest population of Portuguese Canadians, which established June 10 as Portugal Day and June as Portuguese History and Heritage Month in 2001.
Ontario has an act called the Celebration of Portuguese Heritage Act, which points to the long-standing presence of Portuguese in this country that dates back over 500 years to the age of exploration and the seafaring of Portuguese navigators, such as Gaspar Corte-Real, who explored the northeast coast of Terra Nova, or Newfoundland, and named Conception Bay and Portugal Cove.
Government recognition will also be consistent with the fact that Portuguese heritage is also celebrated officially and unofficially throughout June in cities right across Canada. Toronto's Little Portugal neighbourhood, right next door to Parkdale—High Park, in the lovely constituency of Davenport, is home to a thriving and vibrant community of Canadians of Portuguese heritage who come together annually to celebrate the month of June, and June 10 is Portugal Day.
My constituents of Portuguese and non-Portugese descent attend that celebration to celebrate with their neighbours, but also to show their respect to the immense contributions of Portuguese to this country.
Portugal Day, which falls on June 10, is celebrated in honour of Luis de Camoes, who is one of Portugal's most revered poets and author of the most famous Portuguese epic poem, The Lusiads. Portugal Day is also officially recognized as a day to celebrate Portuguese communities around the world in recognition of the millions of people of Portuguese descent who reside outside of the homeland.
With this in mind, this motion is timely, given that Canada is home to one of the largest Portuguese diaspora communities in the entire world. The establishment of Portuguese heritage month would provide an opportunity for all Canadians to learn more about this tremendous community, and the many notable historic and current figures who have contributed to Canada in so many ways.
The list is immense, but I will cite just a few examples, such as the world-famous singer Nelly Furtado, and, no, I will not do a rendition; Canadian Olympic medalist, Meaghan Benfeito; and the hon. Maria T. Linhares de Sousa, who is a judge of the Superior Court of Justice in Ontario; among many others.
Celebrations such as Portuguese heritage month are an expression of the vitality of our multiculturalism, which I started out referencing. Our hope is that Canadians of all backgrounds will view Portuguese heritage month as an opportunity to learn about Portuguese culture while celebrating our inclusive sense of Canadian identity.
I will conclude by reiterating our government's support for this motion, our government's support for the efforts being made by the member for , and highlighting that it is essential that Canadians celebrate, and acknowledge the various communities that have helped to make Canada one of the most successful multicultural countries in the world.
With this in mind, I urge all members of this House to vote in favour of Motion No. 126.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today in support of Motion No. 126.
I rise in support of the groups of talented and dedicated Portuguese Canadians in my riding of Brampton South. I rise in support of the talented and dedicated Portuguese Canadians across the country. It is important to recognize those who worked hard to help build our country, and whose hard work continues to shape and define our communities from coast to coast.
In Brampton South, we have a very special group, Amigos Portuguese do Peel, whose members dedicate their time, energy, and talents to supporting community projects throughout Peel. Under passionate and compassionate community leadership, the Amigos Portuguese has made its mark on the Peel region and in Brampton South. It has been working hard over the four years, organizing fundraising events, dances, golf tournaments, bocce tournaments, and more, to support redevelopment of Peel Memorial.
In my first speech in this place, I spoke of the Amigos Portuguese and its fundraising efforts, where once again it exceeded its goals. It is clear to me, and to anyone who works with this group, that it is dedicated, hard-working, and is eager to make a difference in our communities. We should all be so fortunate to have groups like Amigos Portuguese in our ridings and across the country. Their hard work is literally shaping our community.
Across Canada and around the world, in businesses, sports, media, and in community building, the Portuguese community is thriving. In Canada, we know that diversity is our strength, and we can do more when we come together as one family. The Portuguese Canadian members of this family have shared their diversity, their culture, and their custard tarts with us. We are forever grateful.
As we know, the GTA saw a major movement of Portuguese immigration in 1955, most of the Portuguese people coming to Canada to help fill labour needs. Keeping up with the post-World War II development boom, Portuguese families settled into their new homes and helped rebuild cities. From those early days to today, we have a lot to thank our Portuguese Canadians for.
I support this motion because I feel it is vitally important to recognize and celebrate the various communities that have come together to make the Canadian mosaic.
During the summer, I had the chance to visit Ponta Delgada, on Sao Miguel Island in the Azores. I toured the beautiful landscapes and learned about the community. I was happy to see this beautiful place, where many residents of Brampton South trace their heritage.
In my riding, I am proud that we are home to the Church of Our Lady of Fatima, which hosts the annual Santo Cristo procession and the Holy Ghost festivities. Both of these celebrations are among the largest in Ontario, and bring Portuguese Canadians from across the province and beyond to join in.
In June, I joined my colleagues in Brampton, along with members of the city government, to raise the Portuguese flag at Brampton city hall. It was an honour to join my colleagues and honour this important community in Brampton.
Later that day, everyone was invited to Garden Square in downtown Brampton, which is right beside my office, for a Portuguese festival that celebrated the unique heritage of this community. There was live music, a food festival, traditional dancing, and many crafts. It was a wonderful day, and I look forward to continuing these celebrations in years to come. In fact, on that day, for the first time, June was proclaimed as Portuguese heritage month in the city of Brampton. I hope we can share this celebration across Canada with the adoption of this motion.
By marking Portuguese heritage month, as this motion would do, we are entrenching in Canadian culture the importance of recognizing the history and traditions of so many of our neighbours and friends.
I am proud to have a great community partner in regional councillor Martin Medeiros, who joins me in engaging the Portuguese community. Councillor Medeiros is tireless, and I am grateful for the work he does to recognize Portuguese Canadians at the regional level in Brampton and Peel.
We have also had important celebrations in Ottawa. Last spring, the Canada-Portugal Parliamentary Friendship Group hosted a parliamentary celebration of Portugal Day. We had visitors from Brampton South, a whole bus load, as well as from many other communities in the GTA with large Portuguese Canadian populations.
The festivities that day were celebrated with joy. We had music, food, and friends, the best kind of celebration. This is how we should always celebrate our diversity. We share our histories. We share our cultures. We share our values. One of the traditional dances of Portugal is the Fandango, a competition to see who is the lightest on his or her feet while engaging each other in a fun and exciting dance. I encourage all members here to join their Portuguese community and learn the Fandango.
As a member of the Canada-Portugal Parliamentary Friendship Group, I want to take a moment and thank my colleagues, the chairs of the group, for the work they do in organizing special events to celebrate Portuguese heritage. They have worked tirelessly as leaders of our group, and I would be remiss not to thank them for their work. To paraphrase an often-repeated line, “Together, better is always possible”, we are always better together.
I want to commend my colleague the member for , for bringing this motion forward, and recognizing the wonderful contribution Portuguese Canadians have made, and will surely continue to make to Canada. The member is a hard worker. It speaks great volumes of her dedication to representing her community, and celebrating the diversity of all Canadians, to bring forward such a motion in this place.
I encourage all colleagues to join me in supporting this motion, and in supporting the celebration of Portuguese heritage this year, and every year going forward.
Mr. Speaker, I was very impressed with the speech made by my colleague and friend, the member for . Listening to her speech, one gets an appreciation for just how much passion she has for the Portuguese community. This is not the first time I have heard her speak in the House and outside of it, whether it is in caucus or in the lobby. One gets the sense that she has immense pride and joy for the Portuguese Canadian heritage group. I applaud her for her actions today in recognizing the value of one of our treasured communities in Canada in the month of June. It is long overdue, and I applaud her, as well as others.
Members often bring resolutions and ideas such as this to the floor of the House of Commons, which are quite often supported by the grassroots within our communities, those who work so hard on ethnic and cultural events that take place in every region of our country. My colleague from has already mentioned many of them, even by name, as she knows the community so thoroughly, but generally speaking, I am referring to all of those involved in assisting us to have this great discussion and debate today and recognizing a very important community.
The often talks about Canada's greatest strength, being our diversity. I am a little biased, I will admit that up front. I would argue there is no greater demonstration of our diversity than in Winnipeg during the month of August. My colleagues, the members for and , join me and we share our sense of pride in the Portuguese community. In fact, the member for Winnipeg Centre has at least two Portuguese activity centres in his riding. I know that he, as I and other members of the Manitoba caucus have, has taken a great deal of pride in enjoying the wonderful Portuguese hospitality.
When we listen to the talk about that strength, we really get an appreciation. Some members referenced what other countries are thinking, at least in part. Not all other countries but some raise concerns, and perhaps do not recognize the true value of multiculturalism or immigration, and how our society in Canada have benefited from it. We can see that. We get a snapshot of that by looking at the Portuguese community.
My colleague from made reference to good, solid, quality jobs in construction. I hate to think what construction the City of Winnipeg would have missed out on if there were not such strong, hard-working personalities in that community. There is a beautiful Portuguese centre on Notre Dame, and I know individuals like Mario Santos and so many others made it happen.
Let us talk about commitment. Nowadays groups will go to governments at different levels and ask how they can get centres built. I encourage governments to get involved where they can, and having said that, this community centre was built decades ago. Members of the Portuguese community went to the table, talked about getting the land and supplies, and took part in building the centre. For those who have never seen the centre, I would encourage them, if they are in Winnipeg, to check out the Portuguese centre.
When I meet with members of the Filipino and Ethiopian communities, I often make reference to the Portuguese centre as an ideal type of centre, and even the manner in which it came into being.
In recommending that members go to the Portuguese cultural centre, let me make a suggestion as to when they should go. If they really want to get a taste of Portugal and see Portuguese pride, I would recommend they go during Folklorama. That particular facility, and as I have said there is more than one facility, really comes alive in a tangible way then.
Thousands of people from Winnipeg and other parts of Canada and from the United States are there during the month of August to participate in Canada's greatest multicultural show, and many of them will visit the Portuguese pavilion. People have a choice when they walk into this particular pavilion. They can start by looking at the heritage clothing that is often worn and is on display in the basement. They will see an emphasis on football-soccer, depending on what one wants to call it. The sport is a passion of the Portuguese. Downstairs there is a wonderful display of all sorts of things that makes one think about travelling to Portugal.
In the main auditorium people will be treated to some fantastic food. Some of my colleagues have talked about good food. Well, during Folklorama the desserts are hard to say no to, let alone some of the other food. The hospitality is incredible.
People will also see some fantastic dancing, whether by young people or not as young. It is done in circles, and I must be excused for not knowing the actual name of the dance, but it is a real treat to see. This is just one aspect of our Portuguese community.
I could talk about the Portuguese community in rural Manitoba where many Portuguese own property.
I could talk about both pavilions, both of which are first class.
I realize my time has expired. I always appreciate being able to share a few words.