Interview – Dolores Gontijo

Community representative and cultural promoter.

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A nurse in Brazil, Dolores, gave up her profession to face the challenge of living in Canada. After engaging in several occupations, she was invited by a Portuguese radio station to produce and present two programs: Poems and Songs, and the Brazilian Diaspora. And so, for two years, Dolores had the opportunity to promote Brazilian culture. She is currently involved in a personal project and is a member of the Toronto Citizenship Council.

Dolore Gontijo with Cristina Tozzi e Arnon Melo

Wave: Dolores, tell us about the event you are preparing for in September.
Dolores: It’s the 2nd Brazil Week in Toronto, which will take place at City Hall between September 1st and 9th. It will consist of an exhibition of fine arts, sculptures, and photographs in the lobby. In order to hold it, we expect the participation of Brazilian artists residing in Canada who wish to exhibit their paintings, sculptures or photographs.

Wave: And what about the celebrations for Brazil’s Independence Day?
Dolores: On September 7th at 4 pm, the flag will be hoisted, as it has been for over 10 years, thanks to the early support, of MP Mario Silva and currently of Ana Bailão, councillor and deputy mayor of Toronto. Shortly after, in the internal hall, there will be a cocktail with music by Luanda Jones. On this occasion, key people from our community will be honoured. The event is being organized by the CONCID Toronto culture desk.

Wave: What is needed for our community to have greater visibility?
Dolores: All these years I’ve been living here has given me the opportunity to observe our community. Unfortunately, what strikes me is the lack of unity. People have a hard time working together for the same purpose. There is always a disrespect for the work of others. I know this is not just happening in Canada. Talking with Brazilians who live in different countries, their impression is always the same, this difficulty seems to be cultural. I have tried to encourage unity between groups so that the events are more participatory. I like to see partnerships that once seemed unthinkable and I feel happy when I see positive results.

Wave: The Brazilian Citizenship Council in Toronto, of which you are a member, has been promoting various events. The last, held on May 17, managed to fill the two rooms of the City Hall Members Lounge. What are CONCID Toronto’s upcoming community projects?
Dolores: We are currently focusing on organizing the September event. As you yourself said, in May this year we had the event organized by the Council’s board of entrepreneurship, in partnership with councilwoman Ana Bailão. Later this year, we will participate in the Latin American Health Week, which will take place in October, organized mainly by the Colombian consulate, to inform Latin American communities, including the Brazilian community, about health in Canada. The Citizenship Council was elected in 2017 for a 2-year term. All members are volunteers. The Council receives no funds or patronage, has no office and meetings are held every 3 months in public places or in a member’s home. And its events are community sponsored.

Finally, I would like to emphasize that registration for the September art show is already open. Send us an e-mail to [email protected] and you will receive all the information about the event.