LATIN AMERICA: DIVERSITY UNITED IN OUR CITY
- Latin America refers to the countries south of the United States (Central and South America) in which Spanish, Portuguese or French is spoken.
- The Latin American community in Toronto has 20 different nationalities, including Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil, Peru, Venezuela, Cuba, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, to name just a few.
Te foundations of Toronto's Latin American community were laid in the 1960s and 1970s when men, women and children started arriving from two war-torn countries: Chile and El Salvador. Over the next 20 years, immigration dramatically increased, bringing new Canadians from all across Central and South America. Spanish soon became one of the top 10 "mother tongues" in the city.
At frst, Kensington Market became a hub for the Latin American community, where various restaurants and grocery stores opened. A concentration of Torontonians of Latin American descent was established along Bathurst Street, between College and Bloor Streets. Over the years, this area became a fusion of Asian, Caribbean and Latin American families and business owners who transformed parts of the Annex neighborhood. Te growing community expanded northwards and another hub of Latin Americans in Toronto was established in the Jane and Finch area.
Te next wave of Latin American immigrants to Toronto arrived in the 1990s. Many this time came to attend university and increase their professional accreditation and language skills.
Although the immigrants came from 20 different nations, and shared a common language, each brought a specifc identity shaped by each country's history. In recent years, the Mexican community has become one of the fastest growing communities in Toronto, in terms both of population and visibility. Tis growth can be seen in the increased number of Mexican cultural events in the city, as well as the growing number of businesses, media and academic initiatives dedicated to promoting Mexican culture in this city.
Latin American art and music is an integral part of Toronto's culture, thanks to the city's large and diverse Latin American community. You can experience it in the many latin bars and restaurants in the city, the Andean music of Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador; Choro and Sertaneja music from Brazil or Zamba from Argentina and Chile.
Of course, we can't leave out some of Toronto's favourite Latin American food specialties, including: Jamaican jerk chicken; burritos, tacos, empanadas and enchiladas; Cuban sandwhich of sliced ham, gruyere cheese, pickles, onions, chipotle mayo, and sous vide pork shoulder; Brazilian feijoada; Colombian bandeja paisa; fresh raw fsh ceviche and so many, more!
Check out just a few of the many Latin American cultural experiences literally at our doorsteps!
Alucine Latin Film & Media Festival: Te largest Latin short flm, video and new media festival in North America. May/June of each year. alucinefestival.com
Ritmo y Color Summer Festival: Harbourfront's showcase of Latin American culture brings the best that Latin music, food and culture have to offer. July 5 to 7
TD 13th Salsa on St. Clair Street Festival: Produced by the Canadian Salsa Festivals Prospect and presented by TD Bank, this is the largest free Latin-themed street festival in the city, transforming the stretch of St. Clair West from Winona Drive to Christie Street into a Latin American street party. July 8/9
Annual International Brazil Fest: as Canada's largest Brazilian cultural event, at Earlscourt Park, located at St. Clair Ave West and Caledonia Road, July 21.