After producing 100 episodes since November 2015, the Portuguese Canadian History Project has ended its collaboration with the RTPi show “Hora dos Portugueses.” Simply because it is time to move on. But as historians, we certainly appreciate what is behind us. We are very proud of the work that we did over the last 3 seasons of this show and will treasure many memories from it. It was truly a pleasure to work with our friends Pedro Rodrigues (RoughCut), Luis Moreira (Images Life Inc), Daniela Costa, and the other collaborators who occasionally helped us along the way. It was also a real privilege to meet so many wonderful and interesting people, learn from them, help them tell their stories, showcase their work, divulge their causes, and bring attention to topics that matter to them and to us. Another treat was to be able to visit so many interesting locations across Ontario and Quebec (Montreal), which we would hardly ever have the the opportunity to otherwise. Riding a tobacco harvester, or the back of a golf cart down the bumpy roads of a horse farm, or on the passenger seat of a car driven by Mike Rita; watching a “bloodless bullfight” with the aficionados under the scorching summer sun; standing on the mythical stage of the Horseshoe Tavern or behind a Superior Court Judge’s bench; visiting the hallways of power on Parliament Hill and Queen’s Park, and the more humble yet lively halls of numerous clubs and associations. And the hospitality, the food, my gosh, the food we “sampled” in the various restaurants, dinner events, and religious feasts that we covered. The people, the places, the things, they will be missed.
We are proud of our work, but we are also proud of our community. We knew coming into this show that there were many great Portuguese-Canadian stories to be told (and many more still), but we were nonetheless amazed by its quantity and variety. Our community has come a long way since the first immigrants settled in Canada in the 1950s. There are Portuguese immigrants and descendants in practically every area of Canadian society, many of them doing great work in science, music, visual and media arts, food, fashion, literature, cinema and television, sports, education, journalism, politics, advocacy and activism, business, civic society and other areas. From the beginning we wanted to focus as much on individuals and organizations at the heart of Canada’s Portuguese communities as on the fringes, and highlight the experiences of the Canadian-born or -raised generations. What we found was that the “community” reaches well beyond the Little Portugals of Toronto, Montreal, or the many other large Portuguese-Canadian neighbourhoods and towns across Canada. The social links, the language, the traditions, the shared memories and histories extend to those multiple areas where Portuguese-Canadians inhabit, and manifests in myriad ways: like when celebrity photographer George Pimentel gets tips from Portuguese limo drives in L.A.; or when Vintage Beef confounds most of his 1.25 million YouTube followers with the occasional Portuguese reference (i.e. papo seco); or when the Quebec Minister of Finance Carlos Leitão starts out his budget unveilings with a Portuguese proverb; or when Alexandre Amâncio draws from his memories of Portugal when directing various Assassin’s Creed titles… I could go on.
This is an interesting time in the history of the Portuguese in Canada. The second and third generations are realizing that their individual and family histories are not just theirs, and that many of their personal memories of growing up in a Portuguese immigrant family are shared by hundreds of thousands of people, not just in Canada but around the world. They are connecting with each other on new platforms (i.e. social media) that are sometimes ignored by the immigrant generation, and creating their own forms of expression, through comedy, music, food, cinema, etc. A consciousness of Portuguese diaspora is on the rise, one that many times (re)connects with contemporary Portugal and in many others bypasses it altogether. We were happy to witness, record, and document an interesting moment of that ongoing history. Our only regret was not being able to go out West.
To all of those people who were kind enough to open their doors and sit down with us, or who helped make our work possible, um grande obrigado!
You can find the links to every segment that we have produced for “Hora dos Portugueses” here.