The strength of the Portuguese communities.
By Marta Almeida | Translated by Loretta Murphy
One of the most admirable things about the Portuguese who immigrated to Canada is the organization of the various communities into associations. Created for groups from certain regions of Portugal or even based on folklore, music or sports affinities, these associations keep the Luso-Canadians busy. They include parties, dinners and events all year round, in a rich and varied calendar that celebrates Portuguese roots. Besides the fun, all the associations also involve themselves in community interest causes. Some offer community services, such as English and Portuguese classes, as well ad activities for seniors.
On the Portal for the State Secretariat for Portuguese Communities, there are approximately 200 organized associations registered in Canada. In Toronto, the Acapo (Alliance of Portuguese Clubs and Associations of Ontario), created in 1987, brings together 33 entities. Among the objectives are: to facilitate the integration of all individuals of Portuguese origin into Canadian society; to promote and encourage the cultural and historical heritage of Portugal in the context of Canada’s multicultural policy; to analyze the problems that affect the Luso-Canadian community and propose possible solutions for individuals or organizations; to represent and defend the interests of the Luso-Canadian community in the Canadian and Portuguese government; and to promote communication and mutual cooperation between Portuguese organizations. ” Acapo is the socio-cultural strength of the Portuguese community in Ontario,” says the organization’s president, José Maria Eustáquio .
Each year, when Dundas Street West is closed for the Portugal Day celebration in June, you can see this strength highlighted by Eustáquio . The Alliance has among its main missions, the organization of Portugal Week, which each year brings together a larger number of people with its extensive and interesting programming. The highlight of the festival, the Portugal Parade, is a unique spectacle, where the affiliated associations take a little bit of Portuguese tradition to the streets. “Acapo plays an important role in all issues pertaining to the community in general,” concludes the President, adding that “… the Alliance is open to all non-profit associations who share the Portuguese language or culture.” An example of integration for communities of any origin.