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Latin Culture

Who they are

  • Hispanus was the Latin name given to a person from Hispania during Roman rule. In English, the term Hispano-Roman is sometimes used. The Hispano-Romans were composed of people from many different tribes.
  • Hispanic or Latino Canadians are Canadians with origins in the countries of Latin America and the Iberian Peninsula consisting of Spain and Portugal and in general all persons in Canada who self-identify as Hispanic or Latino.
  • Latin America generally includes those parts of the Americas where Spanish, French or Portuguese prevail: Mexico, most of Central America, and South America.
  • Latín América refers to the group of republics including Argentina, Bolivia, Brasil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haití, Honduras, México, Nicaragua, Panamá, Paraguay, Perú, Uruguay, and Venezuela. Puerto Rico, the French West Indies, and other islands of the West Indies may also be considered part of “Latin America.” The broader use of the term can also refer to counties where romance languages such as Spanish or Portuguese prevail.
  • The majority of Latin American Canadians are recent immigrants who arrived in the late 20th century from El Salvador, Colombia, Mexico, Chile, and Guatemala, with smaller communities from the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Ecuador and elsewhere, with all or nearly all the Latin American countries represented.

When they arrived

  • The first wave of Latin American immigrants to Canada arrived between 1970 and 1973. Official figures show that Canada’s total Latin American population was less than 3000 before 1970. Source: The Canadian Encyclopedia
  • As well, most immigrants of Latin American origin arrived in Canada relatively recently. Of foreign-born Latin Americans living in Canada in 2001, 47% had arrived in the previous decade, while another 35% had come to Canada between 1981 and 1990. In contrast, only 3% had arrived in the 1960s, while less than 1% had come to Canada before 1961.
  • Latin Americans are some of the most recent cultural groups to arrive in Canada however the number of people reporting Latin American origins has grown quickly. Between 1996 and 2001 the number of Latin Americans in Canada increased 32%, while the overall population grew by 4% during the same period.
  • According to Statistics Canada there were almost 250 000 Latin Americans in Canada in 2001, and by 2006 their numbers had grown to over 527 000. The growth of this segment of the population is due to immigration; the majority of people of Latin American origins report being born outside Canada.
  • Reasons for immigrating include Canada’s better economic opportunities and politics or civil war and political repression in their native countries, as in the case of Cubans fleeing from the Fidel Castro revolution, Chileans escaping from Augusto Pinochet’s rule, Salvadorans fleeing from the Salvadoran Civil War and Peruvians escaping from the Juan Velasco Alvarado dictatorship and from the July 1979 constitution’s compulsory voting requirement.

Language : Spanish and Portuguese

  • Spanish is the predominant language in the majority of the countries. Portuguese is spoken primarily in Brazil, where it is both the official and the national language. French is also spoken in smaller countries, in the Caribbean, and French Guiana.
  • Almost all Canadians of Latin American origin can carry on a conversation in at least one official language. In fact, in 2001, 94% of all those who reported they had Latin American origins said they could speak either English, French or both, while only 6% reported they could not speak either official language. Source : Statistics Canada 2001
  • Several Spanish-language newspapers, magazines and newsletters are published in Canada and are available online such as El Popular which is based in Toronto. Theatre presentations, poetry recitals and art exhibits are common in larger communities and many dance and music and cultural groups are very active throughout Canada. Several Latin American writers, poets, painters and journalists have become well known in Canada.
  • In Sault Ste. Marie, Huron Superior Catholic School Board in Sault Ste Marie through Continuing Education program offers Spanish language courses.
  • Spanish language and Culture courses are offered at the Sault College, where people can learn basic conversation from native Spanish speaker.
  • The potential social and cultural impact on the Latin American community is reflected in the fact that, according to an article appearing in the Toronto Star, if current demographic tendencies remain constant, Spanish will be one of the most-spoken languages in the city of Toronto in 2016.


  • Canadians with Latin American origin make up one of the largest non-European ethnic groups in Canada. In 2001, 244,400 people of Latin American origin lived in Canada. That year, they represented almost 1% of the total population of Canada.
  • A majority of the Latin American population living in Canada was born outside the country. In 2001, 62% of Canadians who reported Latin American origins were born outside of Canada, whereas this was the case for 18% of the overall Canadian population.
  • Of the one million immigrants to Ontario who arrived between 1991 and 2001, 14.6% came from the Americas, up from 4.4% before 1961. In the 1990s, more than 80% of these came from Central America, the Caribbean or South America. Source: Ontario Ministry of Finance. Census 2001 Highlights: Factsheet 5: Immigration to Ontario
  • Of immigrants to Ontario from the Americas, Jamaica was the leading country of birth among those who arrived in the 1990s with 2.7% of all immigrants to Ontario, followed by the United States (2.3%), and Guyana (2.2%). Source: Ontario Ministry of Finance. Census 2001 Highlights: Factsheet 5: Immigration to Ontario.
  • “About 350,000 Latin Americans are now in Canada, where the overall population is about 32 million. The largest concentration – a little more than a third – has settled in Toronto”. Source: Fox News Latino

How did they contribute to life in Sault Ste. Marie

  • Latin American Canadians have made distinguished contributions to Canada in all major fields, such as politics, the military, music, philosophy, sports, business and economy, and science.
  • Tenaris Algoma arrived in Sault Ste. Marie it took over then Algoma Steel Inc.’s idle tube mill. Tenaris Algoma Tubes, the manufacturing centre located in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, produces 250,000 tons of seamless pipe products annually, which contributes more than 700 local jobs. Source: Natural Resources Canada
  • In Sault Ste Marie, The Latin Culture presence is felt in the Sault Ste. Marie community with several contributions in business.  Latin businesses such as Frida Cafe & Art, Benjamin’s Jewellery, Gusto’s Bar & Grill, BBQ Chicken, to name just a few.
  • In 2008, our exports to Latin America and the Caribbean, excluding Mexico, totalled more than $8.6 billion. This figure represents about a 30 percent increase in exports to the region from 2007, compared to a 7.2 percent increase in exports worldwide over the same time. During this period, Canada’s imports from Latin America and the Caribbean amounted to $13.7 billion, resulting in a total of more than $22 billion in bilateral trade in 2008.
  • Latin/ Hispanic population have a high level of education and increasingly so, It has been contributing to the Canadian immigration system, particularly under programs like the Federal Skilled Workers, and the Quebec Skilled Workers. Latin/ Hispanic population between 600,000 and 1.2 million in Canada, according to the Globe and Mail, almost 50% of Hispanic Canadians have at least a bachelor’s degree; another 12% have a non-university degree.
  • More than 80 Canadian universities and colleges have academic agreements with partner institutions in Latin America to promote exchanges among students.
  • The relationship between Canada and Brazil has advanced through the years. They are among the top 10 largest sources of FDI in each other’s economies, and both are major exporting nations and energy producers. Canada has identified Brazil as a priority market in its Global Commerce Strategy, and is increasing its presence in Brazil by opening two additional trade offices in 2009, in Porto Alegre and Recife, for a total of five. Similarly, Brazil’s Export and Investment Promotion Agency (APEX) has made Canada one of its top priority markets in 2009. The recent purchase of Inco by Vale of Brazil has propelled Brazil to the rank of seventh-largest source of FDI in Canada and the largest source from Central and South America.
  • The potential social and cultural impact on the Latin American community is reflected in the fact that, according to an article appearing in the Toronto Star, if current demographic tendencies remain constant, Spanish will be one of the most-spoken languages in the city of Toronto in 2016.
  • “Latin America is the fourth-largest source of immigration to Canada,” said Fabiola Sicard, the Toronto-based director of Latin markets for Bank of Nova Scotia, who is charged with convincing new Hispanic-Canadians to open accounts at her bank.

Religion, Values and Traditions

  • The primary religion throughout Latin America is Christianity, mostly Roman Catholicism.
  • Latin America, and in particular Brazil, are active in developing the quasi-socialist Roman Catholic movement known as Liberation Theology.
  • Practitioners of the Protestant, Pentecostal, Evangelical, Mormon, Buddhist, Jewish, Islamic, Hindu, Bahá’í, and indigenous denominations and religions exist. Various Afro-Latin American traditions, such as Santería, and Macumba, a tribal- voodoo religion, are also practiced. Evangelicalism in particular is increasing in popularity.
  • Hispanic families instill in their children the importance of honour, good manners, and respect for everyone and the elderly.
  • Hispanics usually give great importance to and place great value on looks and appearance as a sense of honour, dignity, and pride.
  • Spanish speakers tend toward formality in their treatment of one another. A firm handshake is a common practice between people as greeting and for leave-taking. A hug and a light kiss on a cheek are also common greeting practices between women, and men and women who are close friends or family. The communicationstyle of Hispanics is formal. Respect is highly valued and shown by using formal titles.
  • Connection to family is one of the strongest values in the Latin community. Traditionally, the Hispanic family is a close-knit group and the most important social unit.
  • Exhibiting respect for learners is another important aspect of the Hispanic culture. Teachers need to pay individual attention to learners (e.g., greeting each learner, handing papers to each individual rather than passing them down the row, being sensitive to different cultures among Hispanics, writing educational materials at appropriate reading levels).
  • Hispanics tend to be very polite, which can be misinterpreted as being subservient or servile. Being polite shows they are cultured, while being spoken down to signifies rudeness of the person maltreating Hispanics tend to be more relaxed and flexible about time and punctuality than Canadians. For instance, people who are invited for an 8 a.m. event may not begin to arrive until 8:30 a.m. or later. Within the Hispanic community, not being on time is a socially acceptable behaviour.
  • The social life of Latin Americans often focuses on community activities and family gatherings. Clubs and community groups regularly hold dances and sporting events and mutual-aid clubs serve to maintain group ties and keep cultural heritage alive. Latin American associations such as the Centre for Spanish-Speaking Peoples in Toronto have provided a wide variety of services to the members of the Latin American communities including language classes, immigration assistance, health clinics, and legal services.
  • Hispanic countries celebrate the more popular international holidays, notably Easter, Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year’s Day, and the Three Kings’ Day.
  • In Latin Culture, each country celebrates its El Dia de Independencia. The term fiesta nacional refers to an official national holiday; las fiestas refer to festivals – local, regional, or national – that may be held only one day or may last several days. Most holidays are centered on or have their origins in religion. Many celebrations of the Catholic Church are officially designated by the government as holidays. National government offices may be closed or have limited hours for local or regional holidays.

Holidays and Celebrarations

  • DÍA DEL TRABAJO OR DÍA DEL TRABAJADOR (Labour Day) May 1. National holiday celebrated in most Spanish-speaking countries, equivalent to the U.S. Labour Day.
  • MEXICAN INDEPENDENCE DAY September 16. Mexican Independence Day or 16 de septiembre celebrates the day that Miguel Hidalgo delivered El Grito de Dolores, and announced the Mexican revolt against Spanish rule.
  • THE CARNIVAL IN RIO DE JANEIRO February/ March . It is a world famous festival held before Lent every year and considered the biggest carnival in the world with two million people per day on the streets. The first festivals of Rio date back to 1723.
  • DIA DE LOS REYES MAGOS (The Day of the Three Kings or the Feast of the Epiphany)
  • DIA DEL AMOR Y LA AMISTAD February 14. (Colombia September 14) (Day of Love and Friendship). In most of Latin America the Día del Amor y la Amistad and the Amigo secreto (“Secret friend”) are quite popular and usually celebrated together on the 14 of February (one exception is Colombia, where it is celebrated every third Saturday of September).
  • LA QUINCEAÑERA  The celebration of a Latinas fifteenth birthday.
  • SEMANA SANTA (Holy Week) It is the most important religious celebration amongst Christian Hispanics. This Hispanic holiday reminds us of Jesus’ gift of eternal life. Holy week is the yearly commemoration in the Christian calendar of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. Semana Santa starts with Palm Sunday or Domingo de Ramos, and ends with Easter Sunday or Domingo de Resurrección.
  • SALSA ON ST. CLAIR STREET FESTIVAL St. Clair Avenue West in Toronto is transformed into a showcase of Latin Life where live music, dance lessons, fiery food and family fun were featured.
  • DÍA DE LOS NIÑOS (Children’s Day) Varies regionally. (Universal Children’s Day is celebrated on November 20). It is recognized on various days in many places around the world, to honour children globally. It is very important celebration in Spanish-speaking countries.
  • DÍA DE LA VIRGEN DE GUADALUPE December 12. (the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe)
  • DIA DE LA RAZA. Día de la Raza (Day of Our Race/Columbus Day). It Day is often celebrated throughout Latin America as the birth of the first Latin-Americans. The day of the race (Día de la Raza) preserve the proper reverence for the Native heritage as well as the African, Asian and European heritage and all races.
  • LAS POSADAS OR NOVENAS. December 16 -24. Mexico, Cuba, Latin America, and Spain.
  • LA FERIA DE LAS FLORES (Flower Festival) Medellín – Colombia. August. This 8-day festival that takes place in Medellín, Colombia. The festival is the most important social event for the city and there is a pageant, automobiles, a Paso Fino horse parade and many musical concerts and exhibit of flowers. It has been a yearly celebration that includes El Desfile de Silleteros. In 1996 and 1999 the cabalgata de Las Flores appeared in the Guinness Book of Records as the one with the most number of participants in the world for this type of event.
  • FIESTAVAL Fiestaval is a 2-day free multicultural arts and entertainment festival highlighting the Latin American Culture in Calgary. Fiestaval is family-oriented alternative for celebrating multicultural arts and entertainment in Calgary.
  • EXPO LATINO Expo Latino is Calgary’s Hottest Outdoor Festival, featuring World Class performances, Sizzling Dancing, Exotic foods, Art Market and lots of fun celebrating the Latin culture. The event is held annually on the last weekend of August at Prince’s Island Park, located in the heart of Calgary’s downtown, which gives the audience and spectacular Latin Experience only found in Latin America.

Organizations and Clubs

ALGOMA LATIN ASSOCIATION Established  in 2009 in Sault Ste   to promote the Latin American Culture, Food and Spanish Language Make new connections and networks with the Sault Ste. Marie community.

CRISTINA SOSA ZUMBA FITNESS. Licensed Zumba classes instructor in Sault Ste. Marie


THE LATINO CANADIAN CULTURAL ASSOCIATION (LCCA) provides a network that connects contemporary Latin American artists to the greater Canadian community through its programming of contemporary visual arts exhibitions and multidisciplinary cultural events.

THE HISPANIC DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL The Hispanic Development Council will continue to strengthen the healthy and sustainable development of the community with the focus on social, economic and environmental equity.

CANADIAN LATIN AMERICAN ASSOCIATION LONDON (CALA), established on September 21, 2007. This is a company recognized and registered under the laws of Ontario as “Non-Profit Corporation” (nonprofit corporation), and which has as its main objective: the creation of the first community center, social and sports in the City Forest. In addition to keeping alive our cultures and traditions, CALA seeks to provide support, guidance, and training to the Spanish speaking community in London, thereby bringing to integrate the Canadian community, whether in the workplace, social and / or cultural.

CANADIAN ASSOCIATION FOR LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN STUDIES (CALACS) The Canadian Association for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CALACS) was founded in 1969 with the purposes to facilitate networking and information exchange among persons, in Canada and abroad, engaged in teaching and research on Latin America and the Caribbean.

THE LATINO CANADIAN CULTURAL ASSOCIATION (LCCA) Founded in 1995 .provides a network that connects contemporary Latin American artists to the greater Canadian community through its programming of contemporary visual arts exhibitions and multidisciplinary cultural events.

LATIN AMERICAN RESEARCHERS OF ONTARIO is a non-profit association that aims to promote research on Latin America and Latin Americans –broadly defined –in Ontario and to bring relevant knowledge to non-academic audiences in the province. It particularly seeks to give priority and visibility to grassroots research.

Notable Canadians of Latin Descent

RICARDO SOLER Argentinean. Mr. Soler currently serves as Tenaris chief financial officer, a position that he assumed in October 2007 and since September 2012 the ad interim director of the Planning Department.

ANITA RUIZ GOMEZ. Cuban. Instructor in the Department of Modern Languages at Algoma University College. Mrs Ruiz has been very active in the Sault Ste. Marie community as a community leader and Spanish teacher for many years at Huron Superior Catholic School Board.

CRISTINA SOSA. Mexican. Zumba instructor in Sault Ste. Marie

FLORENCIA CARLINO. Argentinian. PhD in Education from McGill University and published two books about the education and evaluation debate, and several journal articles about teaching in higher education. She has moved from Montreal to Halifax and then to Sault Ste. Marie. She has developed an academic career as a university and college professor (Dalhousie University, Mount Saint Vincent University, Sault College, Lake Superior State University, & Algoma University). She is also an active board member of ALA (Algoma Latin Association).


SELENE GAMINO Mexican. Writer and architect living in Sault Ste. Marie. Her motivational books inspire the way how to live happier and positively.

ZULIMA WESSO–  KIDDO Magazine Director recognized with Top Canadian Immigrant award in 2011. A Colombian-born Canadian citizen has been awarded the 2011. Top 25 Canadian Immigrants Award.

FLORA MARTINEZ Born in Montreal to a Canadian mother and a Colombian father, and raised in Bogotá and North Vancouver. She is a Canadian-Colombian film and television actress, best known for her title role in the film “Rosario Tijeras” that was nominated for a Goya Award for Best Spanish Language Foreign Film in 2005. Martinez was born in Montreal to a Canadian mother and a Colombian father, and raised in Bogotá and North Vancouver. She began her career in television in Colombia appearing in telenovelas such as Mambo (1994), Maria Bonita (1995), and La Otra Mitad del Sol (1995). She is a Canadian citizen and speaks fluent French, Spanish and English. She studied at the Actors Conservatory in New York from 1997 through 1999.

CESAR PALACIO Born in Ecuador he followed his father to Toronto in 1972. He is a Toronto city councillor for Ward 17 Davenport (representing one of the two Davenport wards). He is the first Hispanic person to be elected to Toronto’s City Council.

DAVID ALVAREZ  born May 11, 1994 in Montreal. He is a Tony Award winning, Canadian dancer and actor, best known as being one of the original Billys in the Broadway production of Billy Elliot the Musical.  In 2008, Alvarez was listed as one of the top 10 young ballet dancers to watch by Dance Spirit Magazine.

JOSEPH FACAL born March 12, 1961 in Montevideo, Uruguay. He is a politician, academic, and journalist in the Canadian province of Quebec. He was a Parti Québécois member of the National Assembly of Quebec from 1994 to 2003 and was a cabinet minister in the governments of Lucien Bouchard and Bernard Landry.

RAPHAEL TORRES born October 8, 1981 in Toronto. He is a Canadian professional ice hockey forward who currently plays for the Phoenix Coyotes of the National Hockey League (NHL). He was drafted by the New York Islanders fifth overall in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft.   His father emigrated from Mexico City with his family in the early 1970s while his mother is from Lima, Peru.

ALBERTO CUEVAS born in Santiago, Chile, on September 12, 1967. He is a Chilean singer, plastic artist, painter, and actor, better known as Beto Cuevas. He grew up in Montreal, Quebec even though he spent part of his childhood in Venezuela.

OSCAR LOPEZ born 1954 in Santiago, Chile. He is a Chilean-Canadian folk and nouveau flamenco guitarist. He has won many awards from the Latino community. Lopez moved to Canada in 1979 and settled in Calgary, Alberta.

KLEA SCOTT born December 25, 1968. She is a Panamanian-born Canadian actress. She is known for her role as Emma Hollis on the Fox television series Millennium. Her most notable films are Minority Report and Collateral.

Latin Flags
Ricardo Soler
Zulima Wesso
Flora Martinez
Cesar Palacio
David Alvarez
Joseph Facal
Raffi Torres
Beto Cuevas
Oscar Lopez
Klea Scott