Montreal is home to many ethnic communities coming from all over the world, one of those is the Latino community, involving anyone from Mexico to Chile and Argentina in the southernmost tip of the continent.
The Latin American presence in Montreal and in Canada in general is relatively new, at least in its more massive form. In fact a large part of the Latinos started to arrive during the Trudeau government in the mid-1970s as a result of the military dictatorships that then plagued South America: it was people escaping the dictatorships in Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay especially who made the bulk of the Latin American immigration at the time, new waves of refugees this time from Central American civil wars in El Salvador and Guatemala were added in the 1980s. Then from the 1990s on they are just regular immigrants who come seeking better lives for them and their families who make up a large part of the community, mostly from Mexico, Peru, and Colombia.
Of course moving to a new country represents important, sometimes traumatic changes for people: nostalgia for the homeland left behind, uncertainty about the future here, difficulties adapting to the culture, habits, and languages of the new society make things hard to immigrants. One way of dealing with such situation is having a sort of cultural meeting place that on the one hand offers elements of the culture and life from the countries of origin, and on the other, gives the newcomers a sort of window open to the life of their new country, in other words, something that softens the passage from newcomer to an integrated person and eventually a citizen of this new country.
Here comes the ethnic media, one of them the radio show “Latin Time” which airs on CKUT 90.3 the McGill community-campus radio station, is now turning 25. Started in 1989 by Sergio Martinez, Maria Elena Concha, and Rommel Cajavilca, this successful radio show has demonstrated great longevity and capacity to adapt to a changing audience, which now includes many Anglophones and Francophones interested in Latin American culture and issues. “Latin Time” today has a team of five, all volunteers but with a strong sense of professionalism. Every Sunday morning from 9 to 10:30 they are at the station located in the McGill campus no matter what the weather might be.
The show is an eclectic mixture of mostly Latin American music (from salsa, to tango, to Latin rock) which Cajavilca seeks from sometimes unexpected sources, to news from Latin America and Canada as well as a political commentary by Martinez, to which in recent years commentaries on classical music and opera by Daniel Lara, the voice and commentaries by Paloma Soto, and a review of cultural news in Montreal by Shari Granillo have been added. The members of the team are originally from Chile, Peru, Argentina and Guatemala; but during the 25 years of the show there have been members born in Canada, Colombia, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Honduras, and Spain.
The 25 years of “Latin Time” will be celebrated with a great evening of Latin American music and folk dances, featuring leading artists of the Latino community such as Mamselle Ruiz, Color Violeta, Ana Silvia Garcia and Argentinean dance group Argenkuna, Chilean dance group Arco Iris, and Ecuadorean music group Herencia Latina. The celebration will take place on Friday, May 30 at the Tanna Schulich Hall, 527 Sherbrooke St. West, at 7 p.m., free admission, but please confirm attendance at firstname.lastname@example.org