Celebrating with the Brazilian community

The BCA-BC pose for a picture with New Westminster Mayor Jonathan Cote during Family day at the Anvil Centre. | Photo courtesy of BCA-BC

The Brazilian community in the Greater Vancouver Area is getting more attention this year with their CarnaWest event, bringing Brazilian music, food, and Capoeira to New Westminster on August 4th.

The Brazilian Community Association of British Columbia (BCA-BC) was created in 1996 to help Brazilians integrate into B.C. and promote their culture. Since then, they have had success with events such as Carnaval, which had over one thousand people attend last February in Vancouver.

Live music, food, and more

Luiz Antunes, president of the BCA-BC, explains that CarnaWest is about bringing people together and celebrating their culture. The event welcomes everyone. “We receive manyCanadians. Most of the people were Brazilian, but many Canadians, also Mexicans, Colombians,” says Antunes.

When asked about the origin of this event, Antunes explains the association used to do a festival named Brazilfest.

“We decided to change the name to CarnaWest – that reminds us that it is in New Westminster and also because we are on the West Coast … I believe many people who like Brazilian culture will join us,” says Antunes.

The event is going to host a variety of food vendors and local Brazilian cuisine, along with live music and a form of dancing called Capoeira.

“It is a mix of martial arts and dancing. It is very famous in Brazil, coming from African heritage,” says Antunes.

The CarnaWest will be a different take on the Carnaval done in February.

“We are going to have not only a Carnaval party, but an entirely Brazilian festival,” he says.

Passion for the community

Antunes, who immigrated to Canada two years ago, mentioned that celebrating his culture and sharing these experiences has always been important to him.

Luiz Antunes, president of the BCA-BC. | Photo courtesy of Luiz Antunes

“Since we got here, even informally, we are always thinking of doing things like Carnaval,” he says.

When asked about the motivation for celebrating these events, he sums it up with a single word: passion. Fabio Bahia, another member of the community and treasurer of the BCA-BC, points out that this is a great opportunity for the entire community to get involved.

“It feeds a lot of culture… it’s about songs, customs, about preparing the city for that moment. Many aspects of [Brazilian] culture revolve around Carnaval,” says Bahia.

The BCA-BC board members say it can be hard to balance the time and effort to put on these events, but are thankful for the results.

“We feel really good after the Carnaval we did. The success makes us feel good, and when we look back at all that effort, it was great, and we have fun working, too,” says Antunes.

Growth and networking

The Brazilian community in Vancouver is growing steadily as Canada finds itself as the top destination for Brazilian international students.

“Seventy-five per cent of the market of Brazilian exchange students come to Canada,” says Antunes. “We are definitely a growing community, and our dream is to have a space where we can meet, where we can promote Brazilian culture, have kids’ classes, dance lessons and many other activities.”

Aside from the celebrations, the BCA-BC is also in support of professional development and networking among the community.

“The goal is to network, to help Brazilian newcomers just arriving, and to provide Brazilians with more experience to help others and exchange experience,” says Antunes.

The Brazilian Professionals meeting is going to take place sometime this August.

For more information, please  visit www.bca-bc.ca.