London Latinos share thoughts on Hispanic Heritage Month

David Rayo poses with his records CREDIT: GRACIA ESPINOSA
David Rayo (pictured) shares why National Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15-Oct. 15) is important to him.

National Hispanic Heritage Month is commemorated annually from Sept. 15 until Oct. 15. It recognizes the contribution and influence of Latinos in the history and culture of the United States and around the world.

Latinos are also a fundamental part of the community in London.

“I’m from Bogotá, [Colombia], so when I was working on my process of immigration, my agency said that London was famous because it was affordable for international students,” said Monica Pabon, Residence Services Lead of Campus Living Centres. “I felt lucky because when I arrived here, one of my professors told me this city had a second nickname, Londombia.”

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According to the 2021 Census on Statistics Canada, 3,735 Colombians reside in London. That’s the highest Latin American community in London, but it’s not the only one.

“I noticed that we have a lot of Brazilian and Colombian groups,” said the president of the Latino Culture Club at Fanshawe College, Roumaine Aparecida Dos Santos. Santos was born in San Paulo Brazil.

Santos said he wanted to create the group to bring together Latinos from different communities.

“We didn’t have a group for Latinos covering all the countries, and we are similar. So, I thought it would be nice to find a way to get everyone together and feel welcome, especially for those who come without anyone.”

David Prado is a student who arrived in London a few months ago to start a Web Development and Internet program at Fanshawe College. Prado said the hardest thing about living in Canada is the language barrier and being away from his family.

“For me, the worst thing is going to the supermarket because there are always different names in English. And live alone, of course. Stay away from the family,” Prado explained.

Latinos don’t just speak Spanish. People from Suriname speak Dutch, in Brazil, the official language is Portuguese, and in Guyana, it is English.

David Rayo worked as a professor of English at Fanshawe College from 2008 to 2013, and he returned to the institution this year. Rayo is bilingual, and he was 12 years old when he moved to London in 1988. He is also a musician and launched in December 2022 with other local Latino artists of the city Latin Roots of London. He was able to use Spanish to connect with fellow Spanish-speakers.

“Being able to sing in Spanish and see people’s reactions, how they listen to the songs that, you know, are in another language. It’s incredible to hear the responses and comments from the audience,” said Rayo.

These four people are a small representation of the Latin community in London.