Hispanic Heritage Month
April is Hispanic Heritage Month in Canada and to celebrate, the Canadian Hispanic Business Association runs the awards program “10 Most Influential Hispanic Canadians.” Since 2007, the awards program has honored Hispanic Canadians (third largest minority in Canada) that have made an impact in all areas of life, such as science and technology, volunteer contributions, and the arts.
Here are a few former award winners:
Mario Perez came to Canada from Cuba seeking a better life for his family. Even though he ended up homeless at one point, Perez became a software developer for organizations such as Nestle and the US Embassy. He then created a software company and consulting engagements with AT&T. He was also a founding member of Yak Communications. He has provided opportunities for young Hispanics with interest in entrepreneurship and software development.
Born in Toronto, Sonia Rodriguez has been a principal dancer with the National Canadian Ballet since 2000. She has been a dancer in many major productions with the Ballet since 1990, including Swan Lake, Don Quijote, Romeo and Juliet, La Fille mal gardée, and Cinderella.
Born in El Salvador, Julio Torres-Recinos is an accomplished poet and writer. His poetry and stories have been published all over the world. He is also an Associate Professor at the University of Saskatchewan and received a Teaching Excellence Award by the U of S Student Union.
Dr. Ivar Mendez, Director of the Neural Transplantation Laboratory at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, is a pioneer in the use of robotics in neurosurgery. His work moves doctors closer to the possibility of brain repair and solutions to problems involving disease and injury of the brain and spinal cord.
Eva Avila, whose father is of Peruvian origin, was born in Gatineau, Quebec. In 2006, she won the fourth season of Canadian Idol. She has since had several number successful Canadian singles and is the first Canadian face for Maybelline New York. She also sung at the closing ceremonies for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
Born in Havana, Cuba, Hilario Duran began playing piano by ear at the age of eight. Today, he is a multiple-award-winning pianist, composer, arranger, orchestra leader, educator and recording artist. In addition to winning three Juno awards, Duran is a volunteer teacher at Humber College in Toronto and he performed at the Vancouver 2010 Cultural Olympiad.
Alberto Elmir has shaped Canada’s Hispanic media for forty years. He was an editor at El Popular newspaper and a broadcaster at CHIN Radio, a multicultural broadcasting station. In 1984, Elmir influenced the creation of Telelatino TV (TLN), and in 2000, he created Ondas Hispanas, a Spanish speaking radio and Internet station.