Carnival, Brazilian Day, fairs, gatherings and special experiences promote the blending of Brazilian and Canadian cultures
By Estela Cangerana
A dip in the Canadian way of life, but with a typically Brazilian schedule. It was with this idea that about 150 people attended a camp in the Berge des Coursies Park, in the city of Montreal (Quebec), to celebrate the beginning of Brazil’s Independence Week in early September. The event was one of many examples of initiatives that have successfully united the cultures of both countries. In addition to the traditional Brazilian Carnival, gastronomic and typical fairs, music performances, dance and meetings spread throughout the country.
“Culture is also an important part of the bilateral relationship that CCBC supports. There are many possibilities for exchange,” says CCBC Institutional Relations Director Paulo de Castro Reis, who took part in the camp. The Chamber was one of the organizers of the event, alongside Parcs Canada (National Parks Association of Canada) and the Brazilian Consulate in Montreal.
“Camping is a common habit of Canadian families, but little known to Brazilians. So we took advantage of the Parcs Canada camping introduction project to teach Brazilian families how interesting this habit can be, while celebrating an important date in Brazil and showing our culture as well,” he adds. During the weekend, participants were instructed on how to set up a tent, prepare a fire and cook outdoors, and were also able to participate in Brazilian dance and martial arts workshops, campfire singing and rabaska (canoe) rides, among other activities.
While the Canadian East Coast fraternization was taking place at the campsite in Montreal Park, the West Coast hosted the Brazilian Fair at the Roundhouse Community Centre in Vancouver, organized by the Consulate General of Brazil in the city. Among the attractions were typical products and dishes, music, dance and artistic performances. The fair, which takes place every year, has been growing with each edition and attracts both Brazilians and Canadians and members of other communities.
An increasingly diverse audience also joins Carnawest, the off-season carnival that takes place in Vancouver in early August, the height of the Canadian summer, each year. In 2019, the party, hosted by the Brazilian Community Association of British Columbia (BCA), brought together nearly 7,000 people.
“The goal is to make the immigrant feel a little at home again. But, in addition to curing homesickness, this type of event is a way of spreading our culture, Brazilian music and typical foods. We were able to observe in this year’s Carnawest many people who were not Brazilian, both Latinos and participants from other origins”, says the president of BCA, Luiz Antunes, highlighting the business possibilities that arise from these celebrations. He recalls the success of products such as chicken drumstick, tapioca, cheese bread, pastries and coffee, among others.
Both CCBC and the Brazilian Consulates in Canada and BCA periodically promote or support a range of other cultural exchange opportunities, such as art exhibitions, musical performances, happy hours and social gatherings.