A Latin American Heritage Month celebration – Remembering Chilean history through art

Celebrating Latin American Heritage Month, the Vancouver Latin American Cultural Centre (VLACC)’s second annual Latin Expressions program shines a spotlight on Chilean culture with Remembering the Future: Chile 1973-2023: An Evening of Music, Poetry and Art, a vibrant series of film, music, theater and dance performed by Chilean artists in the Vancouver arts community.

“In this second edition of Latin Expressions, we are shining a light on Chile with four events relating to the country,” says Lili Vieira de Carvalho, Latin American Executive Director of VLACC. “Talented Chilean artists are all around us, and it’s VLACC’s mission to share this talent with a wider audience.”

Running from Oct. 2–21, the Latin Expressions program will host this music, multimedia and spoken word event at the Orpheum Theater, and is pleased to offer five per cent of tickets free of cost to Indigenous groups and underserved communities. The event – led by Chilean-Canadians author Carmen Rodriguez and singer Hugo Guzmán and his band, Sumalao – features, alongside two Chilean film screenings, a sneak peek of theater creator/author Carmen Aguirre’s new play, and several more musicians and performers.

Chilean Musical Movement

Carvalho and the team at VLACC aim to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Chilean military coup of Sept. 11, 1973; to recognize the arrival of Chileans and Latin Americans in Canada; and to celebrate their contributions to the country. Following the coup, approximately 30, 000 Chilean refugees were taken in by Canada, many finding a safe haven within Vancouver to rebuild their lives.

Remembering the Future shines a spotlight on Chile’s past and present, as well as its relationship with Vancouver. | Illustration courtesy of VLACC.

The Nuevo Canción (New Song) movement emerged in the 1960’s in Chile, and played a crucial role in mobilizing force in politics. The music reflected the struggles of the Chilean people and the shared ideology of a unified continental identity, portraying the hopes of millions and strengthening the solidarity of movements in other Latin American countries. This musical movement sought to articulate the dreams of the masses for progressive social-political change, and many pieces procured from this time period are accented in Remembering the Future: Chile 1973–2022, showing how timeless music really is.

“We are proud to bring to the Orpheum stage Carmen Rodriguez, Sumalao and guest artists to prove that music and poetry can transcend space and time. It will be a powerful concert,” says Carvalho.

An ambitious future

Chilean heritage in B.C. goes back at least as far back as far as the 1860’s, when a Chilean settlement called North Valparaiso was established on Vancouver’s North Shore. Histories like these show how deep the roots of Chilean heritage are in British Columbia, and the value in continuing to celebrate that long heritage.

With Latin American Heritage Month was proclaimed nationally five years ago, it shows shows the growth of the Latin American community in Canada more broadly, and their resilience in making their voices heard.

This year, upon VLACC’s request, the Mayor of Vancouver has marked October as Latin American Heritage Month, and a ceremony will be held at City Hall on Oct. 17. For VLACC, this month allows them to increase public awareness and share their message.

“For VLACC, Latin American Heritage Month is an opportunity to widen our audience while exercising our mandate of sharing a deeper understanding of Latin American arts and cultures,” reflects Carvalho.

Members of the Vancouver Latin American art community can expect more culturally rich events such as the Latin Expressions program hosted by the VLACC, and should be excited for its aspiring future.

“Our main goal is to manage a space for Latin American arts, a cultural centre, here in Vancouver, to create even more opportunities for artists in our community and a place for members to experience a sense of belonging,” says Carvalho. “It’s an ambitious goal but one worth pursuing.”

For more information, please visit www.vlacc.ca