Do you know what a Brazil nut is called in Brazil? A nut. Why am I mentioning this silly joke? Well, we Latinas don’t call ourselves “Latinas” before moving out of South America. We usually identify with our specific nationality, not with the whole continent, particularly in Brazil, where we speak Portuguese instead of Spanish, unlike all of our neighbours. We usually see ourselves as the oddball – colonized by a different European country.
However, once we arrive in North America we suddenly became “Latinos.” It is almost as if we immediately receive a label once we arrive, a label we have never thought about until we’ve landed on this side of the globe.
When I found a family doctor in Vancouver and he filled out my paperwork, he recorded “Brazilian” as my race. I wasn’t tagged as white, as I was my entire life in Brazil. Honestly, I did not even know Brazilian was a race. Truthfully, I don’t think it is.
Nonetheless being called a Latina made me realize how much we Latinos have in common. It made me immediately connect with everyone I know who was born in South America. It made me realize I am a part of a beautiful culture, which I vowed to honour and teach to my future Canadian kids.
The pleasant thing about leaving your home country is being able to be an ambassador of a culture in a different land. Vancouver has become my home for the past year, and I’ve been having the time of my life contributing to the Canadian diversity – bringing all the best traits Brazil has taught me. Needless to say, I am a proud Latina.
It’s not just about teaching people how to pronounce Açaí. It’s about telling people how hugging a friend might make your day lighter. It’s about being thoughtful and having a positive attitude. Even when we face obstacles we Latinos find a way to make the best of it. Often, we have gone through a lot to be here in Canada. Our experiences have taught us to be optimistic and resilient. And that is what we are bringing to Vancouver: strength, dreams and smiles.
There is a catch here though. It is not all about teaching; it is about learning as well. I’ve been in love for a while with the friendly ways of the Canucks. I feel free and encouraged, and I am able to see a bright future ahead. Honestly, I haven’t been able to visualize the country where I was born for a while now. It is astonishing to me to feel that I belong here, in a society that values diversity, uniqueness and human rights. It is overwhelming to breathe the fresh air of a country that is fighting against prejudices and the gender gap.
I know Canada is not really known for its Latino community. Only recently have we started to migrate significantly to North America. As far as I am concerned, there are more Latinos that want to be a part of Canadian society.
Oh, and by the way, a Brazil nut is actually called a Pará nut (Pará is the state where most of those nuts come from). I thought it would be nice for everyone to know.