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Hispanic Community

Before the great migration of Chileans after the 1973 coup d’état there, and of Central Americans, especially Salvadoreans, who fled the civil war of the 1980s, there were few Hispanics in Saskatchewan, although some had immigrated to Saskatchewan and left their mark, as attested by occasional Spanish Place Names: Buena Vista, Lake Alma, Valparaiso, and Alameda (“poplar grove,” named thus by an English priest who had spent some time at Alameda in Spain). Saskatchewan’s two major urban centres, Regina and Saskatoon, absorbed most of the province’s Hispanic and Latin American Immigration, although a few Latin Americans are scattered in the smaller cities and even in towns such as La Ronge. Census figures of 2001 state that there were 2,005 Latin Americans in the province. Hispanics and Latin Americans in Saskatchewan tend to form social circles of their own nationalities; however, there are organizations such as Círculo Hispánico in Saskatoon, in which Spaniards, Argentineans, Chileans, Salvadoreans, Peruvians, and others participate.

The recent wave of Latin American immigration has produced a significant cultural impact: supermarkets now offer the ingredients for typical Latin dishes; restaurants serving Latin foods are popular; Latin dances are well attended; and classes in Spanish language and Hispanic literature have grown more popular. The Hispanic community makes a vibrant annual contribution to the annual multicultural festivals: Folkfest in Saskatoon, and Mosaic in Regina. There have been more subtle impacts as well. In the 1970s and 1980s many of the immigrants worked actively in solidarity with the oppressed in their homelands, which increased international awareness in Saskatchewan. Churches, human rights organizations and social activist organizations were strengthened by the immigrants, among whom there were many professionals who have made significant contributions to the province. (See also Visible Minorities, Urban Ethnic Diversity, Saskatchewan Intercultural Association)

Rodolfo Pino

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