By Rodrigo Narro Pérez
This October, it is the 4th celebration of Latin American Heritage Month in Canada. Since 2018, October is a time to recognize the social, economic, cultural and political contributions of the Latin American/Latinx communities in what we know as Canada.
Unlike the U.S., the Latin American/Latinx communities in Canada are fairly young, most having immigrated in the last couple of decades. This has brought unique histories, traditions and stories that are not found anywhere else in the world. The Latin American/Latinx communities in Canada are growing day after day, in particular in Hamilton where Spanish is one of the most spoken languages and where we’ve seen a significant wave of migration in the last couple of years.
Beyond the people and their stories, I ask that all those who are not part of the Latin American/Latinx communities to think of the way they interact with Latin America. Where do your fruits come from? Where do your bananas come from? Where do you go on vacation? Where are the migrant workers cultivating the farms in Ontario from?
We are all in the Americas. What do you know about the Central American migration crisis? The humanitarian and migration crisis in Venezuela and Haiti? Most mines in Latin America are owned by Canadian companies. Whether you realized it or not, your ties to Latin America are deep and they require deep reflection; what role must you play in these?
My family immigrated to this country over two decades ago and while I am so thankful for all that Canada has given me, I also know that I must actively engage in decolonization and reconciliation with the Indigenous peoples of this land. And at the same time, many of us who are from Latin America must engage with the nuance and complex work of decolonizing the communities and countries we come from. Colonization occurred throughout the Americas.
Latin American Heritage Month can mean so many different things and you can engage in various ways. I encourage you to learn more about Latin America and the Latin American/Latinx communities near you.
Rodrigo Narro Pérez, PhD will be starting a Postdoctoral Fellowship at McMaster in the Faculty of Science and in the Office of the Provost. He is a member of Hamilton's Latin American/Latinx community and HARRC Board Member.