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January 13, 2003
Portuguese immigrants reflect on 50 years in Canada
  
Toronto's Portuguese community gathered at Toronto City Hall today to kick-off
a year of festivities to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the
first group of immigrants to Canada from Portugal.

"Portuguese-Canadians are celebrating in 2003!" said Clara Fonseca Santos,
President, 50th Anniversary - Celebrating Portuguese-Canadians Organizing
Committee. "For the past 50 years, Portuguese people have thrived in this
country and are proud to call Canada - and Toronto - home."

On May 13, 1953, a contingent of 85 Portuguese immigrants (67 from mainland
Portugal and 18 from the Azores Islands) sailing aboard the ship Saturina,
arrived at Pier 21 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. While the presence of the
Portuguese had been felt in Canada as far back as the 16th century, due to the
abundance of fishing opportunities off the east coast, it was estimated that
only 500 Portuguese entered Canada between 1900 and 1949. The Portuguese and
Canadian governments had recently signed labour contract agreements, making
Canada a popular place for migration in order to search of work. During the
1950s, 20,000 Portuguese immigrants arrived in Canada and the flow of
immigrants increased over the next three decades.

It is estimated that close to 400,000 Portuguese people now live in Canada,
approximately two-thirds living in Ontario. Toronto is the heart of the
Portuguese community with over 160,000 Portuguese people.

Today's event provided a forum for some of the pioneers on the landmark voyage
to share their initial experiences and reflections of life in Canada over the
past half century. For many Portuguese-Canadians who were born in Canada, it
was an opportunity to learn about their history firsthand and connect with
other members of Toronto's Portuguese community.

"The Portuguese community's strong presence in Toronto has helped to create a
city that is recognized and admired for its rich ethnic diversity," said
Councillor Mario Silva. "Today is an important milestone in the history of our
city's vibrant cultural mosaic."

Festivities commemorating the 50th anniversary will be held throughout 2003 and
will include events such as concerts, gala dinners, art exhibits, theatre,
sports and religious ceremonies, featuring traditional as well as
Portuguese-Canadian culture. For a complete list of events, please visit
http://www.50anoscanada.com.


Media Contact
Helder Ramos,
50th Anniversary - Celebrating Portuguese-Canadians Organizing Committee,
416-830-3964

Councillor Mario Silva,
416-392-7012

 

 

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