Canada-Portugal Relations

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Portugal and Canada maintain diplomatic relations since 1946, and both countries are members of organizations such as the International Monetary Fund, International Labor Organization, and Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development. Canada takes pride in being the home of over 480,000 people of Portuguese descent, and it is not surprising that there are parliamentary friendship groups in the Portuguese Assembly and Canada’s Parliament.

Trade Relations and Cultural and Information Exchange

Portugal exports to Canada a range of products such as furniture, electronic equipment and machinery, oils and fuels, and wine. Canada, on the other hand, exports to Portugal vegetables, steel and iron, parts and machinery, cereals, and aerospace products. Portuguese businesses also invest across different sectors in Canada, including agri-food, forest products, manufacturing, renewable energy, automotive parts, and plastic packaging. Canadian businesses mainly invest in mining and information and communication technologies in Portugal. According to the Trade Commissioner Service – Portugal, a number of industry sectors offer good investment opportunities, including IT, food and beverages, and agriculture.

In 2018, Prime Ministers Costa and Trudeau discussed key issues such as the importance of strong economies, mitigation of climate change, ocean water protection, gender equality, and multilateral and bilateral cooperation. This is the first formal meeting to be held between the leaders of the two countries. In a joint statement on enhanced cooperation, the two Prime Ministers highlighted the importance of peacekeeping, respect for human rights, strong democratic institutions, and conflict prevention and peace. Key issues also included prevention of extremism, radicalization, and violent conflict, refugees, and the rights of girls and women in fragile states.

Prime Minister Trudeau also announced plans for collaboration with a focus on exchange and engagement. The goal is to provide Portuguese and Canadian youth the opportunity to gain international experience and insight of each other’s languages, cultural heritage, social fabric, and people. Portugal and Canada also announced plans to sign a memorandum on rescue operations and aeronautical research as well as a social security agreement.

Academics

The two countries have signed a number of cooperation agreements in disciplines such as industrial design, business administration, oceanography, and others. Many universities in Canada have research and exchange agreements with Portuguese universities. The Smith School of Business at Queen’s University, for example, participates in an exchange program with Nova School of Business and Economics and Catolica Lisbon Business and Economics. The School of Architecture at the Dalhousie University also has exchange agreements with the University of Lisbon in Portugal. The University of Toronto offers students the opportunity to enroll in a 4-week program in the University of Lisbon’s Faculty of Arts to learn Portuguese or build on their language skills. Students can choose from three language levels – Intermediate Level I and II and Elementary Level.

Portuguese Communities in Canada

Portuguese immigrants began to settle in Canada in 1953, and close to 62,000 people immigrated between 1950 and 1976. Some 34,660 Portuguese Canadians live in British Columbia, more than 57,400 live in Quebec, and over 282,860 live in Ontario. There is a vibrant community in Toronto, and the ethnic enclave is known as Little Portugal. The neighborhood is inhabited by Portuguese, Vietnamese, Spanish, and Chinese. Two associations with a focus on education operate in Canada, the York University Portuguese Association and the University of Toronto Portuguese Association.

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Portuguese Community

Vancouver Portuguese Community in Vancouver

More than 10,000 Canadians of Portuguese origin live in Vancouver according to Canada Census, and some 35,000 Portuguese Canadians live in British Columbia.

History

In 1954, the first immigrants arrived in Vancouver in search of work and better life. The Portuguese who arrived in Canada were required to pass a comprehensive medical test to enter the country. Many of them worked on the railroads and farms.

Neighborhoods, Cafes, Restaurants, and Other Establishments

The popular neighborhood of Kingsway was formerly a Portuguese neighborhood but many fled the area after the closing of different establishments. Star Travel Holidays is a travel agency found on Commercial Drive, offering trips and vacations in Portugal. Café Algarve is found on 13th Avenue while Casa Verde, which is famous for its chicken, is found on Commercial Street. Casa Verde features delicious meals such as pan-fried clams, deep fried chicken wings, and grilled traditional Portuguese sausage. Adega Restaurant and Union Food Market are popular Portuguese establishments in Vancouver. There are other restaurants, cafes, and bakeries that offer visitors the chance to get a feel of Portugal, among which Joe’s Café, 1st Avenue Bakery, and Serra Café & Bar. Eva de Viveiros owns women’s accessories and clothing shops in Vancouver, including Lisette, Barefoot Contessa on The Drive, and Barefoot Contessa. The Dona Lucia Esthetics Salon is run and owned by Lucia Serpa and is found on West Broadway.

There is one church in Vancouver, Our Lady of Fatima Portuguese Parish. Found on East 13th Avenue, the church offers sporting, educational, and social activities, including sport and theatre and a Portuguese school.

Organizations

The Vancouver Latin American Cultural Centre is a non-for-profit organization that works to showcase photography, visual arts, dance, music, cinema, and novels in Portuguese and Spanish. The Portuguese Cultural Center (https://pccbc.ca/) is found in Burnaby which is within a short driving distance to Vancouver. The center hosts a variety of events such as Friday lunches, Father’s Day and Mother’s Day dinners, and others. Back in 1987, a group of seniors from Vancouver came up with the idea of a community place for seniors of Portuguese descent. They met in the Trout Lake Community Centre to socialize, have a meal, and play domino and cards. Members gradually grew in number, and the Portuguese Canadian Seniors Foundation was established and registered in 1988. At present, the foundation has more than 1,600 members. Fundraising dances and dinners and other events are organized by volunteers on a regular basis. The center also publishes a newsletter in Portuguese and awards three $2,000 scholarships to students of Portuguese descent who wish to apply for private and public universities and colleges. Students attending high schools in British Columbia are eligible to apply, and applications are assessed based on criteria such as leadership, academic excellence, hard work, and commitment to one’s community.

Consulate-General and Portuguese Courses

The Consulate-General of Portugal in Vancouver offers courses in Portuguese. Exams are held, and diplomas are awarded to certify proficiency. The exams are held at the Vancouver Center of Examination.

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