June 13, 2018

Kevin Waugh (Saskatoon—Grasswood)
2018-06-13 16:57 [p.20879]

Madam Speaker, I have a couple of items.
I want to thank the member for Sarnia—Lambton for talking about the education system. We have seen a few ads by the government on television, but not enough. It was prepared to spend $300,000, $400,000, or $500,000 for an ad campaign and we have not seen that, even though we could be months, or even weeks, away from this bill becoming law.
In January, I went to Nunavut. There are no addiction centres at all up north. They are concerned. There is not one addiction centre in Nunavut, yet the government has not consulted with them. They are concerned about this because their people from the north have to go to Winnipeg and even Montreal to addiction centres. There is no plan by the Liberal government to place addiction centres up north. I would ask the member to talk about the addiction centres that will certainly be needed when this bill becomes law.

Kevin Waugh (Saskatoon—Grasswood)
2018-06-13 20:48 [p.20909]

Mr. Speaker, I have been here just over two and a half years. I have spoken many times on heritage, and I am a little disappointed that the other side, tonight, will not get up and speak. Heritage, in our country, is certainly deep in tradition. I think I am the 22nd speaker in row on this side tonight to speak on this. I am a little disappointed. I have a sports background, as members know, and usually when a team goes 22 straight, there is cheering. However, I am not cheering tonight, because 22 in a row is pretty embarrassing for the government, if I do say so.
I am very happy to speak on Bill S-218, an act respecting Latin American heritage month. This bill would declare every October to be Latin American heritage month.
Throughout this country, Latin American communities, as we all know, have played a tremendous role in adding to the cultural diversity of our country, and they continue to do so. Whether it is through music, language, art, dance, food, or even history, Latin American communities in this country certainly have new perspectives and learning opportunities for all people across this country.
According to the latest statistics from 2016, nearly 500,000 people in Canada are of Latin American descent. We know that these communities exist all across this country in cities like those that have been mentioned here tonight: Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. Many people have come to build their lives and make important contributions to this country.
In my community of Saskatoon, the Latin American community is growing pretty well. In fact, the co-founder of the Alerces Spanish Preschool and Kindergarten, Maru Aguirre says that in Saskatoon people can find a job. I would say they could find a job until 2015, but it has been a little more difficult in the last two and a half years, but they can find a life here in Saskatoon. It is a city of big opportunity. He also says that when he moved to Saskatoon from Colombia more than a decade ago he would never have heard someone talking Spanish on the streets of Saskatoon or in the mall or in the parks, but now it is happening more often than one would think. When we look at the stats, we definitely see growth in this area of linguistic diversity in my city of Saskatoon, and in fact the province of Saskatchewan.
Back in 2011, Canada census said 1,400 residents in my city spoke Spanish as their mother language, and 275 residents spoke Portuguese as their mother language. Then five years later, in 2016, these numbers have risen, with 400 more residents speaking Spanish. That’s up to 1,800 speaking Spanish as their mother language, and 340 people speaking Portuguese as their mother language. These increases really represent strong additions to the multicultural fabric in my city, which makes Saskatoon even more vibrant and diverse as a result.
Since the 1970s, Canada’s Latin American population has grown substantially. People from Latin America have come to this country seeking new opportunities to live in peace and prosperity, as well as the chance to add to our rich, cultural mosaic. Our community continues to share its culture with the rest of the country, and in doing so it makes Canada, let us face it, stronger. People from the Latin American community in Canada work in all walks of life, and share their heritage with the rest of us in this country, in many diverse and meaningful ways.
The Alerces school in Saskatoon, for example, provides children with an opportunity to speak Spanish in a caring and nurturing environment. These students benefit tremendously from this kind of multicultural education, and it is thanks to the wonderful teachers and staff from countries like Ecuador, Colombia, El Salvador, Chile, and Argentina, who make it all possible.
Throughout Canada, Latin American festivals further provide opportunities to celebrate and enjoy this diverse cultural heritage. We have talked about it tonight. In cities like Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto, and here in Ottawa, they will all hold Latin festivals this summer.
I should add that in Saskatoon we have Folkfest that runs every August, and it is our major multicultural event. We welcome the Brazilian pavilion, the Peru pavilion is back up and running, and we have many more Latin American pavilions. It is three wonderful days, as the world comes to Saskatoon. Communities in our city are so proud to show their culture, dance, food, and hospitality.
These are just some of the many festivals that celebrate Latin American heritage in Canada.
We are all excited about Latin American heritage in the country. Before I go any further, I should remind everyone that it was the late Senator Tobias Enverga, who was appointed to the upper House in 2012, who argued that we should have a Latin American heritage month. He was so deserving of this national recognition, and we should certainly be reminded of that tonight. He passed about a year ago, in November, while visiting Columbia. We are all grateful to the hon. member for Thornhill for continuing to champion this private member’s bill, and I wholeheartedly support having a designation of Latin American history month.
When I was in Saskatoon with my late parents, they welcomed a Chilean family that had to flee Chile in the late 1970s. I was in grade 11 at the time. I remember my parents bringing the family to our house for the first time. It was in the winter They were with us for many celebrations. I remember my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary celebration, and they were involved in it. We opened our house to them and we were better for it. We really enjoyed the family and its experience. We also helped them get prepared for Canadian winters, to which they had a pretty tough time getting used.
I would be remiss if I did not mention Hugo Alvarado tonight. He is an artist who was born in Chile. He came to Saskatoon in 1976, with five dollars in his pocket. Hugo has his own unique style of landscapes, which can be found in many of our homes and businesses in my riding. In fact, I have a number of his paintings. I want to salute Hugo. This past year CTV Saskatoon presented him with the Citizen of the Year Award. It was a wonderful celebration, and we were on hand for that.
Hugo lives in my riding of Saskatoon—Grasswood, and I want to thank him for giving back to our community. He is the co-founder of Artists Against Hunger, a group of artists who have organized a multitude of auctions for fundraisers to help the Saskatoon Food Bank & Learning Centre, the Saskatoon Crisis Nursery, Friendship Inn, CHEP Good Food, Persephone Theatre, and the list goes on. He came, with his family, from Chile and started a new beginning in Saskatoon. Today, he is CTV Saskatoon’s Citizen of the Year. It is a great tribute to a Latin American in our city.
As we all know, Latin American Canadians work in all sectors of our economy. We see it in Saskatoon. They are business owners, teachers, and engineers. It is important that tonight we recognize the value of our Latin American communities and their rich cultural heritage and are a part of the great fabric our country.
That is why we are so happy to support Bill S-218. We look forward to a unanimous private members’ vote in support of the member for Thornhill.