I can’t believe it has been 7 years since I started this business. Because of the pandemic, this past year has been quieter than most but I’m still here (and I’m glad you are too) offering Portuguese classes and sharing pieces of Portugal in Vancouver with you.
When I created Portugal in Vancouver back in 2014, I had recently obtained my Portuguese citizenship and a newfound interest in my culture. Even though I grew up in a Portuguese family that ate fish on Fridays and regularly attended festas at the Portuguese Parish in East Vancouver, I had always pushed away that part of my identity to the extent that I even refused to learn Portuguese – and yes, I do regret it! So with my cartão de cidadão in hand, I wanted to get out there and rediscover my people and roots.
But where were these other Portuese-Canadians like me who grew up here? Did others have stories like mine of having a fair-skinned mother who spoke with a thick accent which others thought made her uneducated or of a father with beautiful tanned skin and hair as dark as charcoal that Canadians immediately judged him as lesser for being too dark and swarthy? Were there others who watched their parents be disrespected for their broken English, their skin tone, or their jobs? Who else grew up in this limbo of being not quite white but also not quite ethnic enough? I needed to find these people; I needed these shared experiences; I needed to find where I belong.
So here I was on April 24th, 2014 wondering when I hit publish for the first time on my newly minted Facebook page for Portugal in Vancouver if there were others like me who were looking for a connection to their culture and wanted to celebrate being Portuguese. Was Portugal in Vancouver going to be a flop or will it flourish?
I’m happy to say that it’s been a success! Over the past 7 years, I have met so many people who are just like me. I have made lifelong friends. I have met the lovely hard-working people in our community who keep our culture alive. I have met people who love being Portuguese. And I have met those who love Portugal and want to learn more about our culture and language. You are all why I do this.
So a very happy 7th anniversary Portugal in Vancouver! You have given me a newfound love of my culture, country, and its people and for that, I am forever grateful.