To The Honourable Michael Chan, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, Minister Responsible for the 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games
The first Pan American Games were held in 1951 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Since then, the games have been hosted by Mexico, the United States, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Venezuela and several other American countries. It has been a way to unite all the Americas (North, Central and South) through sports.
Yet the Pan Am Games have also served their own purpose of transcending pride throughout the Latin American community all over the world. As stated by Barbara Riveros Diaz, an athlete from Chile, during the Pan Am Games in Rio (2007) “It would be really nice to get the medal for my country and as well, for all Latin America, they really support me all the time, they say I’m their mirror and reflections of how it works (and success) so that’s really inspiring to me. It would be an honour for my country, but also for all Latin American people”. This quote encompasses the essence of the Pan Am Games perfectly.
The Pan Am Games are not simply about sports, but rather uniting various different countries and cultures from the Americans through sports. For the Latin American community, and Latino Hispanics in Canada it is a way to find pride through the talented athletes their countries have raised, established, shaped and supported. Overall, the Pan Am games and their spirit is about honouring community, friendship, and most importantly difference within the Americas, and 2015 in Toronto, Ontario.
To promote this historic initiative, the Latino Hispanic community in Toronto through a “Comite Gestor” or Steering Committee, representative of the Latino-Hispanic Canadian community has initiated its work. The community organizations involved in this stage of the work are:
- Hispanic Development Council
- Canadian Hispanic Congress
- Centre for Spanish Speaking Peoples
- Las Flores Foundation
- & Community Advisors
With an annual growth rate of 7 %, the Latino Hispanic Canadian community is one of the fastest growing communities in the country. This community today is getting close to a million inhabitants nationwide, while the largest provincial concentration is in the province of Ontario.
In 2015, forty one Pan American countries will participate in the “Pan Am” Games, the games of the Americas. From Alaska to Chile, North, Central and South America, 19 of the 41 countries participating in the 2015 Toronto Games share a linguistic union that is Spanish. The United States of North America with a Spanish speaking population of over 50 million people is the second largest Spanish speaking country in the world after Mexico. Thus, in order to take advantage of this historic opportunity and the legacy of such an event for Toronto and communities in the Greater Toronto Region, we are presenting the following initiative:
1. PROPOSAL AT THE GOVERNANCE LEVEL:
1.1. In order to secure community representation at the governance level to ensure diversity and inclusion, it is necessary to appoint two Canadians of Latin American background as representatives on the Board of Directors of the Organizing Committee of the Toronto 2015 Pan / Parapan American Games.
1.2. Considering that the culture and staff of the games should reflect the public of the games, from an equity, diversity and best practices perspective, recruiting should have as a key target the Latino Hispanic Canadian population for the staff employed by the Organizing Committee of the Toronto 2015 Pan / Parapan American Games.
1.3. To ensuring the principle of equity in the outsourcing processes for the implementation of the Toronto 2015 Pan / Parapan American Games, the games organization and its contracting practice should strive to reach the Hispanic community to provide for greater participation in contracts for supplies and services.
2. PROPOSAL FOR INFRASTRUCTURE LEGACY
2.1. Providing 10 percent of the newly-constructed Pan Am and Parapan Am Athletes’ Village, as social housing for the Pan American Latino Hispanic community after the games.
2.2. Designating a space that is part of the infrastructure that will host the Toronto 2015 Pan / Parapan American Games, to be used as a multi facility Hub for the Latino Hispanic Canadian community in Toronto following the games. Providing meeting and community service space for a community which has no collective facilities will be one of the most significant legacy outcomes of the Games.
3. PROPOSAL FOR CULTURAL EVENTS
3.1. Support a Cultural Olympiad project for the Toronto 2015 Pan / Parapan American Games (See attached proposal in appendix I
4. PROPOSAL AT COMMERCIAL AMERICAS LEVEL
4.1. Support a Pan-American Trade Expo as part of the Toronto 2015 Pan / Parapan American Games (See attached proposal in appendix II).
5. BUILDING OF A PUBLIC MULTIPURPOSE SPORTS COURT AS LEGACY OF THE PAN PARA PAN GAMES TORONTO 2015
Direct Project Beneficiaries: Communities with underserved and marginalized populations located within the City of Toronto and the general Toronto Region.
Needs: Funding for the construction of infrastructure and physical space (the ground) for the location of this community facility.
Participation in physical activity has significant benefits for individuals and communities in general. Studies have shown that physical activity enhances physical and mental health. It also has numerous social and personal benefits for all age groups. Furthermore, it has positive economic impacts and helps reduce participation in areas such as drug abuse, violence and crime.
Hence, in light of the Pan/Para Pan American Games, it is important to consider the significance of building facilities that will not only serve as sporting venues during the games but also have an after-effect as a legacy to promote physical activity in public spaces throughout our communities. In addition to healthy living, these spaces will also represent sites of participation, which will ultimately strengthen the sense of community and retain the game’s ideal “United We Play”.
Currently, the Hispanic/Latin American community in Toronto lacks a space for physical activity to which its members have a sense of ownership (unfortunately as a community we are not alone in this situation). The setting up of an open court (space) facility would be an inclusive and accessible space with access that can be utilized by all members of the community. It is expected that this space will become both a point for community engagement and social cohesion.
Indeed, the establishment of a shared space will foster cohesion within the community by acting as a vehicle to build and expand networks through the practice of physical activity and community interaction. Such objectives align with the main Pan/Para Pan American Games vision of transforming local communities. The goal of this proposed initiative is to build a public multipurpose court in a community space in order to promote physical activity and participation by providing a free, inviting and safe space for able and disable bodies and the inclusion of genders and multi ages.
5.2. Overall Objectives
5.2.1. To promote community cohesiveness and inclusion in a traditionally marginalized community through the creation of a multipurpose court to reinforce the spirit of friendship and cohesion amongst members of the broad community.
5.2.2. To create an environment in which community members of all ages and gender can exercise, build networks and act as a support system to counter the socio-economic and educational challenges often encountered.
5.2.3. To build safer neighborhoods and reduce negative behaviors such as crime, drug abuse and violence by engaging the community in physical and ethics education with an emphasis on the notion of the ‘common good’.
5.2.4. To aid mono-parental and troubled families with opportunities to change attitudes and behaviors by participating in activities that promotes friendship, acceptance and negotiation skills.
5.2.5. To target disadvantageous conditions affecting the Latin American (and other) community such as poverty, academic underperformance and overrepresentation in precarious employment by utilizing the court as a platform for education, motivation and support. We plan to complement these with other initiatives and programs geared towards strengthening community resilience and “fair play”.
Appendix I. PAN AMERICAS CULTURAL OLYMPIAD
A Cultural Olympiad with international and local artists of the different participating countries throughout different venues in Toronto and participating cities during the Games should be one of the highlights.
This could be accomplished with the participation of the communities involved in the games inclusive of the private sector. There are different important events and dates starting in July that may become participants such as: Canada Day celebrations, Salsa on St. Clair, Caribana, Brazilian Heritage celebration, International Beaches Jazz Festival, just to mention a few with the incorporation of these free signature events and open venues with the Pan American theme. The committee should approach these potential events not only to make people aware of the Games, but also to be part of the celebration while the celebration becomes the City and our region.
As in our city, province and country we speak all the languages of the world, we should welcome all the participating countries in their language of origin. We should say “In Canada we speak your language” “or Canada speaks your Language”.
Participating events shows will be ticketed in order to recover the investment through ticket sales, sponsorship and community participation. International artists could be included such as national ballets of some of the countries, Mexico for instance or Chile. This list may also include internationally known cultural icons such as The Tropicana from Cuba, Oba Oba from Brazil, and international concerts by artists such as Shakira and Placido Domingo.
As many people from the Latin-American countries may not be able to afford the cost related to travel, and or accommodations it is important to focus on the United States’ population, which also reflects multiculturalism and Pan Americanism within our continent. We should not forget that the Organization of American States headquarters is in Washington DC and Canada joined in 1989. Indeed, we should notice that Spanish speaking and Caribbean countries are heavily represented within the United States of America population. An illustration in point is that Caribana brings close to 1,000.000 people to Toronto every year.
Interacting properly with our Pan American Embassies, Consulates, Tourism, Trade Offices and High Commissions of each of the participating countries will open the doors for this venture while ensuring success.
The proclamation of July 2015, as the Month of the Americas by the governments of Toronto, Province of Ontario and Canada, will without any doubt be of important significance for the Games and also public awareness and participation. Canada is the home of multiculturalism. Hosting the games by our region will be one more opportunity to rekindle international friendship, cooperation and a renewed commitment to our global goals for economic prosperity, peace and collective values in healthy living, youth and sports, all with a focus in Toronto the region.
Appendix II. PANAMERICAS TRADE EXPO
This event is an opportunity to have each of the participating countries featured at Exhibition Place at the PANAMERICAS Village, where each country can have a pavilion and showcase their industry, commerce, business life and culture. It is a great opportunity for Toronto, Ontario and Canada to interact with the Americas, as Canada reaches for new routes for trade with the region and to expand global reach beyond current limits.
A user fee for the space occupied per country to recover the investment assist wit he financing. Smaller countries from the region, may share one pavilion. Countries such as United States, Canada, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Argentina etc. may have a greater presence. In the end, the Trade Expo should become one key point of interest with the participation of the entire region looking at the universe of economic activity.
There should be an entrance fee, type of passport or visa to visit the Panamericas Trade Expo, at an affordable cost. As a past experience, the Canadian National Exhibition used to have a feature country, which attracted hundreds of thousands of people. Attendance to the CNE in the 90’s reached over 2.5 to 3 million people. On the other hand in the 2000’s over one million visited the CNE without a feature pavilion.
The proper interacting with the Americas region Embassies, Consulates, Tourist and Trade Offices of each of the participating countries will open the doors for this venture. Canadian companies doing business in the Americas could become involved as sponsors and active community partners for this cutting edge project.