San Lorenzo Latin American Community Centre
Community Services, Education Programs and Cultural Consulting
Our Sense of Community
COMMUNITY SERVICES, EDUCATION PROGRAMS AND CULTURAL CONSULTING
As Latin American countries have their own linguistic and cultural nuances, if it isn’t the soulful strains of the guitar or the idiosyncrasies of the Spanish language, it most certainly is the message of caring that draws the Hispanic community to the San Lorenzo Latin American Community Centre. Founded by Monsignor Hernan Astudillo, the Centre, which is totally self-sustaining, was established to provide a safe space for the Latin American immigrant and for the preservation of the Latin American culture in Canada. With close to 300 active and 500 occasional members, which include children, youth, adults and seniors, we strive to preserve, promote and share the rich Latin American culture and traditions.
Art, Music & Culture
While the San Lorenzo Latin American Community Centre aids with the transition process, it also plays an active role in promoting and preserving the Latin American cultural legacy. In order to preserve our cultural heritage, we conduct art, dance, music, theatre and Spanish language classes for the next generation. In this context, our performing arts group called “Taller Cultural Surco” has been a successful mechanism in the creation of awareness about our Andean origins.
Combining youth and adult bands and dance groups, “Taller Cultural Surco” has performed traditional Andean folk music and dance at various cultural events in Toronto and its neighbouring towns. As the rhythms of its dance and music become popular, the invitations to perform at various cultural events continue.
In the past, the SLLACC has brought art teachers from Ecuador to exchange Latin American heritage and teach Andean and Caribbean instruments, music, theatre and dance to the local community.
If you are interested in having your children learn more about South American folklore, we have dance classes in the basement of the church every Friday, from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm for children; and, from 7:00 pm to 8:00 for the youth. This is a wonderful way for them to learn about their culture and to meet other young Latino children and youth.
Programs for Children
- Children’s Radio Programs
- Dance Lessons
- Music Classes
- Summer Camps
Programs for Young Adults
Community Volunteer Programs at the San Lorenzo Community Centre, La Iglesia San Lorenzo, Radio Voces Latinas and the Caravan of HopeStudent Volunteer Programs (educational credit hours) for High Schools, Technical Institutes and Universities
Senior Adult Programs
- Birthday celebration
- Crafts Classes
- Diabetes Prevention Classes
- Mental Health Classes (Via CHHA 1610 AM)
- Nutrition Classes
- Physical Exercise Classes
- Sex Education Classes
- Summer Walks
- Weekly Community Engagement Meetings
Programs for the General Public
- Administrative Skills Development Courses at the Community Center and Latin Voces Radio (CHHA 1610 AM)
- Disease Prevention Training (diabetes, heart attack, stroke, etc.)
- First Aid Training
- Folk Dance Classes
- Mental Health Classes
- Workshops on Community Participation
- Workshops on Social Inclusion
- Zumba Classes
Festivals & Events
Since 2004, the San Lorenzo Latin American Community Centre has been an open space for expression and dialogue inspired by the belief that creativity dispels fear and mistrust among communities. Whether our activities are aimed at promoting Latin American culture or initiating self-sustained projects, we are constantly engaged in creating a future for the community. Furthering the message of understanding and acceptance, we have been instrumental in creating and organizing massively attended annual festivals in Toronto. These festivals celebrate key events in the life of the Latin American people. With their rich cultural content, they are notable events not just in the community’s calendar, but also on Toronto’s cultural almanac.
Inti Raymi Festival
Summer Solstice – June
The Inti Raymi is a festival that has been celebrated by the indigenous people of the Andean region since the time of the Incas. The celebration takes place during the week of the summer solstice in June, to give thanks for a generous corn harvest. Based on Inca theology, this is a sacred celebration in honor of the Sun God, Inti. These days, the Incas organize this celebration in different parts of South America (Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, and part of Colombia and Argentina), but the principal places for the festivity are the sacred places of Cuzco in Peru and Ingapirca in Ecuador. Traditionally, Inti Raimy is a celebration of gratitude for nature’s bounty; and in Toronto, it is a celebration to honor nature’s diversity. With performers often coming from as far as Ecuador, Colombia, or Venezuela this two-day festival held at the end of June under the open sky, exposes Canadian society to the amazing sounds and rhythms of Latin America. While the community shares its cultural legacy, it also presents a stage for the appreciation of other cultures. For many years, this festival has been bringing together artists from a plethora of ethnic backgrounds, countries, and religious beliefs. Drawing over 15,000 people, the Inti Raymi promotes tolerance, harmony, respect for freedom and diversity, and cultural appreciation amongst Torontonians.
Abaya Yaka Festival (Land of Hope)
Abya Yala, which in the Guna language means “land in its full maturity” or “land of vital blood”, is the name used by the Native American nation Guna people, that inhabit near the Darién Gap (today North West Colombia and South East Panama) to refer to their section of the American continent since Pre-Columbian times. The term is used by the indigenous peoples of North and South America to describe the two parts of the continent. The Abaya Yala festival was created primarily to educate the next generation about its traditions, values, culture, and history. It encourages the active community participation of children and youth. The festival includes representatives from Latin America and the Caribbean. This two-day festival draws more than 5,000 people to the grounds of the San Lorenzo Community and provides the Spanish-speaking people of Toronto with an opportunity to share its way of life with other cultures and in turn, enrich the cultural mosaic of Toronto. Held in August, the Abya Yala also celebrates the anniversary of Saint Lawrence (the namesake of the Centre)
Pupusa’s Festival (Central America Indepdendence)
This is a festival that includes parades, concerts, and food tastings. During the festival, Salvadorans living in Toronto invite the general public to savor one of their most representative dishes: The Pupusa. The “Pupusa” is a thick griddlecake or flatbread from El Salvador and Honduras that is made with cornmeal or rice flour. It is usually stuffed with one or more ingredients which may include cheese (such as quesillo or cheese with loroco buds), chicharrón, squash, or refried beans. It is typically accompanied by curtido (a spicy cabbage slaw) and tomato salsa and is traditionally eaten by hand. The festival is dedicated to celebrating the Independence of Central America, a continental region that is made up of Belize Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Panama.
San Romero Anniversary Festival
At the San Lorenzo Community, Monsignor Oscar Arnulfo Romero is a saint who protected the victims of civil war in El Salvador and that has become a voice for all Latin-Americans who suffered political persecution and economic oppression. Oscar Arnulfo Romero, archbishop of San Salvador, was killed whilst at the altar celebrating Mass on 24th March 1980. Recognized as “a martyr for the faith”, he was beatified on 23 May 2015 in San Salvador, and on 14 October 2018, in St Peter’s Square, Pope Francis proclaimed him a saint. Thus, this four-day festivity, which includes a vigil and a cultural event is dedicated to honouring his memory.
CHHA 1610 AM Radio Anniversary Celebration
Voces Latinas-CHHA 1610 Radio, the first and only Spanish broadcasting radio station in Canada, was officially launched on November 21, 2004, with full power of 1,000 watts. The first broadcast included an Ecumenical Mass at 12:30 p.m., followed by the blessing of the studio and tower at 2:30, a media conference at 3:00 and best wishes from local authorities and dignitaries at 3:30 p.m. The studios and transmitter were located at the San Lorenzo Latin American Community Centre, at the corner of Wenderly Drive and Dufferin Street in Toronto. Every year, in the month of November to celebrate the Radio Station’s “birthday” and applaud the occasion of being on the air at the service of the Spanish-speaking people of Canada, the San Lorenzo Community dresses up to carry out a very special party in which the general public enjoys the performance of various local artists, musical orchestras and can also taste a wide variety of representative food from different parts of Latin America.