OSCAR VIGIL / TORONTO /
El hasta hace poco Director de Radio Ondas Hispanas Canal Dos Alberto Elmir, el reconocido especialista en temas de pandillas Luis Carrillos, el respetado académico de la Universidad de York Eduardo Canel, y el aclamado compositor y músico Hilario Durán, fueron algunos de los nombres que más sonaron durante la elección de los “10 Hispanos de Mayor Influencia en Canadá 2009”, un evento que por tercer año consecutivo se llevó a cabo la ciudad de Toronto.
Junto a ellos, también se hicieron mecedores de los reconocimientos la bailarina Sonia Rodríguez y los académicos Julio Torres-Recinos, Carlos Morillo, Marlinda Freire, Enrique Fernández e Ivar Méndez, en una noche donde abundó la oportunidad para la foto política y donde también escasearon los espacios donde los asistentes podían sentarse.
Con el Ministro de Relaciones Exteriores para las Américas, Peter Kent, como orador especial de la noche, la asistencia al evento bordeó las 300 personas, en su mayoría profesionales, dirigentes comunitarios, comerciantes y empresarios, quienes se hicieron presentes a un evento que honra el desempeño de los hispanos que se destacan en las diferentes áreas en este país.
Para la edición de este año, la actividad de reconocimiento, que es promovida por Mauricio Ospina y la recién creada Asociación de Empresarios Hispanos (HBA), contó con varias variantes, siendo la principal el hecho de que los 10 hispanos de influencia de la comunidad hispana fueran escogidos exclusivamente por un jurado compuesto por 27 personas, entre quienes se encuentran periodistas de medios anglófonos, dirigentes de entidades hispanas y los ganadores de los eventos anteriores.
En las primeras dos ediciones fue clave el voto de los asistentes al evento a la hora de seleccionar a los premiados, mientras que este año la escogitación tuvo un componente más basado en los currículos presentados, lo que explicaría el alto número de académicos que fueron premiados.
Otra de las variantes de este año fue que el salón donde se realizó la ceremonia no contó con mesas y sillas para ubicar a los asistentes, quienes debieron permanecer de pie durante las tres horas que duró la actividad, y que a pesar del alto precio cobrado por los boletos de entrada ($70 si se compraban de forma individual) éstos únicamente incluían algunos pasa bocas.
Los asistentes en general aprobaron los nombres seleccionados, muchos de los cuales no son muy conocidos en la comunidad pero que evidentemente cuentan con muchos méritos en sus hojas de vida.
“Me siento muy contento, la verdad es que de nuevo lo hemos logrado, tuvimos nominados de siete provincias y hubo diez ganadores escogidos por 27 jurados. Y el ministro Peter Kent lo dijo muy claramente que el Primer Ministro de Canadá los invita (a los ganadores) a reunirse en Ottawa en la primavera. ¿Qué más importante puede haber que eso?”, dijo Mauricio Ospina al cierre del evento.
Efectivamente, según anunció el Ministro Kent en su discurso como invitado especial, el Primer Ministro Stephen Harper girará una invitación a los ganadores para que se reúnan con él en Ottawa dado que le fue imposible asistir a la actividad de reconocimiento, la cual fue llevada a cabo en un hotel ubicada en el centro de Toronto el pasado 20 de noviembre.
Paralelo a la reunión con Harper, los diez hispanos de mayor influencia en Canadá también tendrán la oportunidad de participar en una jornada aún por definir que será desarrollada por La Fundación Canadiense para las Américas (FOCAL), entidad que se define como un instituto independiente que se dedica al fortalecimiento de las relaciones entre Canadá y los países de América Latina y el Caribe, mediante el análisis y el dialogo sobre políticas.
“Estamos promoviendo a la comunidad hispana en estamentos canadienses y motivándonos a nosotros mismos que podemos lograr cosas grandes”, dijo Ospina durante la premiación, y al ver los resultados es obvio que sin lugar a dudas, con las limitaciones propias en este tipo de iniciativas, lo está logrando.
Los “10 Hispanos de Mayor Influencia en Canadá 2009” son los siguientes:
ALBERTO ELMIR, Ecuadorian, Ontario.
Alberto Elmir came to Canada with a Business degree from Ecuador. A real pioneer, he shaped Canada’s Hispanic media.
In 1969, Elmir opened “El Rincon Suramericano”, a store in Toronto. His career with the Hispanic media began in the mid-seventies as editor of El Popular newspaper (www.diarioelpopular.com) and as broadcaster at CHIN Radio (www.chinradio.com), Canada’s pioneer in multicultural radio broadcasting. He also hosted Hispanovision, a TV program on Channel 11 in Hamilton, Ontario.
In 1984, Elmir influenced the birth of Telelatino TV (www.tlntv.com) and secured several hours of programming in Spanish. In 1986, he was instrumental in the creation of CIRV FM-Radio (www.cirvfm.com) and became vice president. This class “A” radio station now transmits in 12 languages reaching over 2 million people in Southern Ontario. Elmir created and anchored the Festival of the CIRV FM Songs (1988-2007) promoting numerous local and international Hispanic artists. In 2000, he founded Ondas Hispanas (www.ondashispanas.com), a 24-hours Spanish-speaking radio and Internet station. In 2004, with the desire to unite the Hispanic media, he launched the Alliance of Canadian Hispanic Media.
Elmir gave more than forty years to Canada and the Hispanic media, and supported plenty of local and international humanitarian campaigns. For these contributions, he has received numerous awards and recognitions including the Honour Award from the now defunct “Latin American Achievement Awards” 2003, and Certificates of Recognition from the Canadian Hispanic Congress, the Hon. Judy Sgro, MP, and Toronto Councillor Cesar Palacio, on behalf of the City of Toronto.
CARLOS MORILLO, Colombian, Ontario
Dr. Carlos Morillo, a Professor of Medicine and Director Arrhythmia Service at McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences, received his MD degree from the Universidad Javeriana in Colombia. He is also a researcher at the Population Health Research Institute. He completed his Cardiology and Electrophysiology training at University of Western Ontario supported by a Heart & Stroke Foundation Research Fellowship Award.
Morillo returned to Canada in 2002 to conduct the largest study ever performed in Chagas, first described 100 years ago. Chagas is an infectious tropical disease transmitted by a parasite that affects cardiac tissue. Approximately 30% of infected individuals develop heart enlargement leading to heart failure and sudden death. The disease is relentless and usually fatal. No specific treatment has been developed and the WHO considers Chagas a neglected disease. Primarily seen in Latin America (approximately 10 million people are infected), current immigration patterns indicate that 80,000 to 250,000 subjects may be infected in North America.
The BENEFIT study led by Morillo and funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Tropical Disease Research branch of WHO and McMaster University, has enrolled 1,800 patients in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia and El Salvador, who have been referred by 150 health professionals in 45 centres – the largest network of investigators in Chagas to date. BENEFIT will establish if eliminating the parasite halts the progression of heart damage. Morillo is an Honorary Member of most cardiovascular societies in Latin America and continues to develop treatments of neglected diseases such as Chagas and Rheumatic fever.
EDUARDO CANEL, Uruguayan, Ontario.
Eduardo Canel is Associate Professor of Latin American and Caribbean Studies and International Development Studies in the Department of Social Science at York University. He received the prestigious York University Teaching-Award in 1998 and mention in the “Most Popular Professors List” in The Maclean’s Guide to Canadian Universities in 2000 and 2001.
A professor for the past fifteen years, Canel promoted an appreciation of the cultures and societies of Latin America among students, policy makers and the Canadian public. He taught and mentored hundreds of students and delivered Intercultural Communication workshops for Canada’s diplomats, policy makers and development aid workers though the Canadian International Development Agency and the Canadian Foreign Service Institute (DFAIT). He facilitated numerous student exchange programs and internship opportunities in Latin America for Canadian students, and promoted partnerships between academic institutions and civil society organizations in Canada and in Latin America.
Canel is currently Director of York’s Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean (CERLAC), Canada’s premier research centre on the region. He is also a member of the national Board of the Canadian Association of Latin American and Caribbean Studies. He was Coordinator of York’s Latin American and Caribbean Studies program (1995-2001) and the International Development program (2006-2007). In the 1980s, he worked in journalism, assisting in the production of a dozen CBC television documentaries on Central America and Cuba. His book Barrio Democracy in Latin America. Participatory Decentralization and Community Activism in Montevideo (Penn State University Press) will come out in 2010.
ENRIQUE FERNANDEZ, Spaniard, Manitoba
Enrique Fernandez (Princeton PhD, 1998) is head of the Dept. of French, Spanish and Italian at the University of Manitoba. He came to Canada in 1991, worked as translator for oil companies while completing an MA, and in 1994 received a scholarship at Princeton University. He taught at Texas A&M International University in Laredo, Mexico.
Since his return to Canada in 1999, he has published scholarly books and articles on the Latin sources of the 16th century masterpiece La Celestina. He has written short stories published in Canadian and Mexican magazines as well as in the recently published Portrait of a Cloud: First Anthology of Hispanic-Canadian Short-Stories (2008) and the Anthology of Literary Translation of the Association of Translators and Interpreters of Alberta (2006).
In 1994 he created Proyecto Sherezade, online site with contributors from the Spanish-speaking world. The best two short stories are published every month, amounting to 300 short stories published to date. It is the oldest, most prestigious publication of its kind. Besides the stories, Proyecto Sherezade’s readers can download recordings and teaching materials.
In 2005, to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Don Quixote, with the help of his students he created the Puppets of Don Quixote, a company that put on stage the misadventures of Cervantes´ hero in several Canadian cities. He contributes to the local media in matters related to the teaching of Spanish. In 2009 he received the Internationalization Award (University of Manitoba) for promoting the richness and opportunities of the Spanish speaking world.
HILARIO DURAN, Cuban, Ontario
Hilario Durán was born in Havana, Cuba in 1953. A multiple-award-winning pianist, composer, arranger, orchestra leader, educator and recording artist, Duran started playing the piano by ear when he was eight years old.
He studied at Cuba’s Amadeo Roldan Conservatory of Music and has since played around the world with Jazz and Salsa legends such as Dizzy Gillespie, Chucho Valdes, Paquito D’Rivera, Oscar D’Leon, Demetrio Muñiz (former director of the Buena Vista Social Club), Arturo Sandoval and others. In 1987, Durán made his first trip to Canada to perform at the Montréal International Jazz Festival. In 1992, he joined Canadian flautist Jane Bunett’s Spirits of Havana and won the 1992 Canadian Juno Award. He settled in Canada in 1998 with his wife Cristobalina and their daughter Yailen, also an artist.
His current projects as a leader include ‘The Hilario Durán Trio’, ‘Hilario Durán & Orquesta Havana Remembered’ and ‘Hilario Durán & His Latin Jazz Big Band’. Some of his multiple awards include:
o Chico O’Farrill Lifetime Achievement Award (Latin Jazz U.S. 2007)
o Juno Award, 2006 (“From the Heart”)
o Juno Award nominee, 2006 (“Encuentro en la Habana”)
o Juno Award, 2005 (“New Danzon”)
o Juno Award, 1992 (“Spirits of Havana”, with Jane Bunett)
o Premio EGREM, Best Arranger of the Year (Cuban musical award, 1982)
Duran volunteered as a teacher at Toronto’s Humber College where is now a faculty member, acting as both adjunct Piano Professor and Ensemble Director. He will play at the Vancouver 2010 Cultural Olympiad as part of the Vancouver Olympics.
IVAR MENDEZ, Bolivian, Nova Scotia
The Bolivian Embassy in Canada nominates philanthropist and pioneer Dr. Ivar Mendez, Director of the Neural Transplantation Laboratory at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia. As a clinician, Dr. Ivar Mendez is pioneering the use of robotics in neurosurgery. As a researcher, Dr. Mendez is breaking new ground in the field of neurotransplantation.
At Canada’s only Cell Restoration Laboratory, Dr. Mendez’ work moves us closer to the possibility of brain repair. He co- founded the Brain Repair Centre, where he has developed a world-class collaboration of researchers and physicians aiming to find innovative solutions to diseases and injuries of the brain and spinal cord. Dr. Mendez played a critical role in expanding state-of-the-art research facilities and new neurobiology and stem cell laboratories in Canada.
He is also the Head of the Division of Neurosurgery at the QEII Health Sciences Centre in Halifax, and is Director of Research for the Department of Surgery at the QEII. In 1999, Dr. Mendez received the Royal College Medal Award for Surgery from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada for his outstanding contribution to research in neurosurgery. He believes that the research that is being conducted in neural transplantation today is moving us closer to the possibility of brain repair.
His last project with the Canadian government was to develop a distance surgery system to treat Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan. Dr. Mendez makes financial and social contributions to programs that benefit poor children in Bolivia, and is also a renowned artist (photographer).
JULIO TORRES-RECINOS, Salvadoran, Saskatchewan
Dr. Julio Torres-Recinos, born in El Salvador, received his PhD from the University of Toronto. He is an Associate Professor of Spanish and Literature at the University of Saskatchewan.
Accomplished poet and short-story writer, Torres-Recinos has published five poetry books. His poetry and short stories have appeared in journals and anthologies in Canada, Spain, Peru, Mexico and the U.S. He has given poetry readings in Canada, Germany, Italy, U.S. Costa Rica and El Salvador.
In 1992, he won first prize for Poetry in a competition organized by Toronto’s Cultural Celebration of the Spanish Language. In 2003, the Accademia della Cultura di Roma named him Accademico D’Onore. He received a Teaching Excellence Award by the University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union. In 2004, a translation of the books Crisol del Tiempo and Nosotros was published in France. He edited two books with Luis Molina Lora, Ero’s Falsenesses and Portrait of a Cloud, each collection with over fifty short-stories by Hispanic-Canadian authors (the latter considered a landmark in Hispanic-Canadian literature). His last book, Hojas de aire, was selected as one of the best poetry books published in Spain (2008).
His volunteer work includes being President of the Hispanic Circle of Saskatoon, Treasurer of the Saskatchewan Intercultural Association and of the Canadian Association of Hispanists, and VP of the Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan.
He is President of Saskatoon’s Folkfest, the largest multicultural festival in the province with over 269.000 visits in 2009. For this role, he received a Leadership Award by Tourism Saskatoon (2009).
LUIS CARRILLOS, Salvadoran, Ontario
Luis Carrillos has worked across Canada as educator and volunteer. Since 1994, the thrust of his work has been with the Hispanic Development Council on youth gangs. Projects include: Identity Politics Among Latino Youths in Toronto; Youth Gangs: To See Them Talk Is To Hear Them Walk; MEXUSCAN (Mexico, U.S, Canada): A tri-national research on youth and employment; How to… handbooks I and II: guides for parents with adolescent children; and lectures at York, Guelph and Michigan universities, and George Brown College.
Born in El Salvador, Carrillos holds a Masters in Education from York University, and Youth Worker and Advanced Counseling Skill diplomas from George Brown College. He is president of the Association of Spanish Speaking Seniors-GTA and member of the following organizations: Immigrant & Refugee Housing Committee of Toronto, Toronto Police Services Board Advisory Panel on Community Safety, Center for Addiction and Mental Health, Alternative Housing & Services Committee of Toronto. He is former chair of the Bloor Information and Life Skills Centre, and former president of the Centre for Spanish Speaking Peoples.
His volunteer work spans over thirty years. Awards include a Certificate from MP Osvaldo Nunez for the advancement of young people at risk and salutations from the Hons. Anne McLellan, Canada’s Attorney General, and Lawrence MacAulay, Canada’s Solicitor General, “for his commitment to creating safer communities”.
Carrillos has been interviewed by most Hispanic Canadian media, CBC Radio, Radio Canada International, Toronto Sun, Immigrant Voices, and Prensa Grafica and El Diario de Hoy (El Salvador).
MARLINDA FREIRE, Chilean, Ontario
Dr. Marlinda Freire arrived in Canada as a Chilean refugee in 1974 with a background in pediatrics and little English. She became a psychiatrist from the University of Toronto in 1980.
Freire has worked with numerous organizations providing services for victims of human rights violations. Her main areas of expertise are mental health and poverty, torture, violence, women’s issues, exile, second language acquisition and retention by displaced and traumatized populations. She has contributed to legislative changes through work with the Immigration and Refugee Board and legal community addressing the complexities of culture, communication and trauma in refugees – particularly child claimants. Dr. Freire was a speaker at the 1989 International Symposium on the Refugee Crisis, Oxford University. She did field work in Croatia during the war (1993) and was a consultant for the documentary “War is Not a Game.”
As Chief Psychiatrist at the Toronto District School Board (1987-2003), Freire advocated for the rights and needs of newcomers and traumatized and poor students. She is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto and has taught and mentored students at York and Ryerson universities. She also consults at the Hospital for Sick Children, Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture, City Health Associates, and sits on the Mental Health Advisory Committee for the UN High Commission for Refugees. Dr. Freire’s three children are health professionals and, when asked recently to write an essay about the person they most admired, her two oldest grandchildren wrote about their “Abuela” (grandmother).
SONIA RODRIGUEZ, Spaniard, Ontario
Sonia Rodriguez studied dance in Madrid with Pedro de la Cruz (Princess Grace Academy, Monaco) and graduated with Honors from Madrid’s Royal Conservatory. Winner of Italy’ Grand Prix International Dance Competition, she joined The National Ballet of Canada in 1990 and was promoted to Principal Dancer in 2000. There are only five female principal dancers in Canada’s national ballet.
Rodriguez’s repertoire with Canada’s ballet includes all major classics like Swan Lake, Don Quijote, Romeo and Juliet, La Fille mal gardée, The Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, Coppelia and Madame Butterfly. She has danced principal roles in numerous George Balanchine ballets, including leads in Mozartiana, Stravinsky Violin Concerto, Theme and Variations and Serenade.
A versatile dancer, she is favorite among choreographers and has created many roles such us the title role in James Kudelka’s Cinderella and Princess Vasilisa in The Firebird, as well as roles in Matjash Mrozewski’s A Delicate Battle, Jean-Pierre Perreault’s The Comforts of Solitude and Kudelka’s The Four Seasons. In 2005, she danced the role of Dulcinea in the world premiere of Suzanne Farrell’s re-staging of Balanchine’s Don Quixote at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
A great ambassador for the company and the Hispanic community, Rodriguez has performed in numerous galas all over the world, most recently in Miami’s International Dance Festival performing The Pas de deux from Val Caniperoli’s Lady of the Camellias and Balanchine’s Agon.
Rodriguez has appeared in numerous company premieres, including Marie Chouinard’s 24 Preludes by Chopin, Christopher Bruce’s Rooster and John Newmeirs’ The Seagull.