Deadline: May 16, 2005


“Citizen Participation and Political Learnings of Latin American Immigrants in Canada”, a research effort that brings together faculty and students from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto (OISE/UT) and the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM).

Partner Organizations

Red de Estudios sobre Latinoamericanos en Canadá, RELAC
Latin American Research, Education and Development (LARED)
Congreso Hispano Canadiense (CHC),
Centro Para la Gente de Habla Hispana
Grupo Mujer Revista Cultural Mapale
Latin American Coalition Against Racism (LACAR)
Letras-Latinas/Latin American Women Feminist Collective Centro Cultural Latino Canadiense,
Radio Voces Latinas (AM 1610)
Justice for Migrant Workers (JxMW)
Periódico El Correo Canadiense,
Latinoamericanos Emigrantes, LATMI
Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean, York University (CERLAC)
Toronto Hispano
Transformative Learning Centre, OISE/UT


In Latin America citizen participation in political, civic and community affairs plays an important role in the daily lives of many people. When immigrating to Canada, Latin Americans experience significant changes in civic and political participation. For example, there are cases of immigrants who, having had a high level of political participation in their country of origin, lose interest in politics, abandon all types of public participation, and retreat to private life. Sometimes the opposite occurs. For instance some that did not participate in political or civic affairs in their country of origin, become interested and involved in civic life in Canada.

Likewise, there are examples of continuity, in which both the type and level of political participation remains the same (though with certain adaptations), in spite of important changes experienced in other areas as a result of immigration. In general, in the cases of rupture as well as in those of continuity, the immigration process requires re-learning certain aspects of citizen participation, political involvement, and the way in which we relate to others in community life.

In this call we invite everyone (not only those of Latin American origin) who would like to express their opinions and experiences about these issues. We encourage people to communicate their ideas and feelings through different means. The call includes eight categories: Essay, Life Story, Short Story, Opinion Column, Journalistic Article, Poetry, Theatre or Radio-Theatre Script and Photography.

For the purpose of this initiative we define political participation in a broad sense, including not only electoral politics but also any kind of citizen participation that has a special meaning for Latin American Canadians. These include, but are not limited to, participation in women’s Latin American groups, schools, the church, neighborhood, or community gardens. It might also be participation in environmentalist or international solidarity organizations, in an organization that supports grassroots movements in a Latin American country, or in a group that protects immigrants’ rights. It could also be about participation in a political party in Canada or in the home country. In those cases in which there is a change in the level of participation, causes and impacts of these changes can also be explored. In any case, the theme opens up innumerable possibilities.

In addressing these issues, participants may consider some of the following questions:

How are the political and civic participation of Latin Americans in Latin America different from that of Latin Americans in Canada? How are they similar?
How do Latin Americans participate civically and politically in Canada?
What are the differences within the Latin American community regarding the ways and levels of participation?
Why do some Latin Americans prefer participating in community groups, while others prefer doing so in settlement agencies, international solidarity movements, and political parties?
Why do many Latin Americans who used to have a high level of political interest and participation in their home countries reduce considerably those levels when coming to Canada?
Why do many Latin Americans who used to have a low level of political interest and participation in their home countries increase considerably those levels when coming to Canada?
Why do some Latin Americans manage to participate with the same level, interest and intensity as before?
What are the barriers for our participation in our home countries and in Canada? What factors encourage us to participate? How important is the issue of language?
What is the meaning of immigrant citizen participation within the Canadian context of multiculturalism?
What is the impact of the dual identity (Latin American – Canadian) in the civic and political participation? How does identity complicate and enrich civic participation?
Does Canadian citizenship represent any change in the type and level of participation when obtained?
What is the impact of the experience of political participation in Latin America (successes, failures, joys and traumatic experiences) in the civic and political participation in Canada?
To which extent do information and communication technologies (e-mail,
Internet) facilitate the civic participation at local and international levels?
What are the causes and effects of the low level of representation of the Latin American community in Canada?
What are the challenges for the new generations of Latin American Canadians?
What recommendations could be made to improve the level of Latin Americans’ civic and political participation in Canada?
What is the role of education in this process?

The intention of this call is to promote a space of reflection, free expression and communication on the political dimension of the migratory experience that is not limited to the academic world. In the words of Luis D'Elia, Latin American-Canadian resident in Edmonton and member of Amnesty International, "this process itself is an opportunity to engage in a transformative learning experience since reflecting on our own experiences, attitudes and perceptions will make us aware of our relationship with dominant powers and interests. It will also help us to become dwells conscious of our socio-political commitments and ideals before and after coming here."

We hope that this initiative will allow for the sharing of satisfactions and frustrations lived by Latin American immigrants during their citizen and political participation experiences in Canada. Also, we expect contributions that will help identify outstanding cases (e.g. somebody who stood out as a community leader, somebody who held an elective position at local, provincial or federal levels, a group that managed to organize a successful campaign, etc.).


Contributions selected by the jury will be published in a book edited by the Transformative Learning Centre of the University of Toronto, and in a special number of the Mapalé magazine. An electronic version of these contributions will also be generated and will form part of RELAC’s digital library. Contributions will be disseminated through community newspapers and radio programs. Selected works will be recognized in a public event to be held in Toronto in September, 2005.


1. Contributions can be submitted in either Spanish, English, French or Portuguese.

2. The deadline to receive contributions is May 16, 2005.

3. Contributions can be submitted by an individual or a group.

4. Opinion columns must have between 500 and 1,000 words.

5. Journalistic articles must have between 1500 and 2000 words.

6. Essays, short stories and life stories must have a minimum extension of 2000 words and a maximum extension of 4000 words. Poems should have a maximum extension of 50 lines.

7. Theater and radio-theatre scripts must have a maximum performance time of one hour.

8. Photographs can be in black and white or colour, digital format, and must have a minimum of 300 DPI.

9. Life stories can be autobiographical or not, and can describe individual or collective histories.

10. Contributions must be signed with a pseudonym and sent by e-mail to, indicating in the title of the message the pseudonym of the author and the category in which it participates. In a second message, the title of the work, the name of the author or authors, e-mail, telephone and mailing address should be indicated for contact purposes. Only the organizing committee will have access to this

11. The members of the jury will not have access to the names of the participants until a decision has been made, and will not maintain any type of contact with the participants.

12. Each participant can send only one contribution per category. It is possible to submit contributions to several categories.

13. Both unpublished and published works will be accepted.

14. This call is open to all people who are willing to participate, without any restrictions such as age, nationality, birthplace, migratory status, place of residence, etc. However, members of the coordinating team are excluded from participating.

15. Awards will be announced on July 30, 2005.

16. Participation in this project implies the acceptance of these conditions.

Coordinating Team

University of Toronto (OISE/UT): Daniel Schugurensky (coordinator), Jorge Arcila, Martha Barriga, Jessica Bleuer, Mónica Escobar, Evelyn Encalada, Jorge Ginieniewicz, Aitana Guia, Yina Rivera, Fernando Rouaux, Vannina Sztainbok, Gisela Vanzaghi.

Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM): Víctor Armony (coordinador), Elena Bessa, Viviana Fridman, Carolina Iacovino, Rosa Amelia Maltez, Jorge Lazo, Melina Serangelo, Carlos Torres.

For a Spanish version of this call, visit
Neyda H. Long, PhD
Department of Cultures and Languages Studies Renaissance College Secretary-Treasurer, Citizenship Education Research Network (CERN) Research Associate for the "Atlantic Human Rights Center"
Phone: 506- 452 9322

Return to Metropolis Main Menu page 

          Home | About Us| Events | Partners | Publications | Media Centre | Policy Priorities | Ottawa Team