Though finding herself in
a new country, Ana Maria Seifert has nevertheless been true to her father's
legacy. Always stressing to Ana the importance of education and perseverance,
he would be proud to see his daughter Ana Maria heeding his words -
all the while forging her own path. Like other immigrants in a new land
who have to "start over," Ana Maria worked at a series of
menial jobs by day, schooling herself at night, all the while raising
her two daughters. Knowing her heart was with those who worked and toiled
in difficult conditions, she put herself through school, which included
earning a Master's Degree in ergonomics, and has developed an occupational
specialty which allows her to help improve workplace health and safety
Ana is an example of the guts and gristle many of our immigrants come
with, working hard to pave the way for future generations from their
cultures. Though there is little in the way of a Bolivian expatriate
community here in Canada, there is a strong and vibrant Latin American
community here in Canada, numbering perhaps close to 100,000. It is
estimated that close to 65,000 live in Montreal. Most have come here
looking for a better life economically, but some like Ana Maria have
come as refugees. These are mainly Chileans who came in the 1970s.
Canada needed workers to boost its industrial development in the 1970s,
particularly in Ontario and Quebec, and the government allowed visitors
to apply for landed status soon after arrival. It was during this period
that many Latin Americans made Canada their permanent home.
The Latin communities here , which have grown tremendously since the
1970s, are far from homogeneous. Many are Chilean and Argentian exiled
professionals who came as political refugees, and others are economic
immigrants, mainly labourers. The number of Chileans in Canada today
is estimated as close to 50,000. Generally, the Latin community in Quebec
has remained the most stable (as opposed to migratory), presumably because
once they learned French, they were not linguistically mobile to move
around the country. Most Latin Americans have tended to settle in urban
rather than rural areas like Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Edmonton.
Many professionals have gone back to school to get the acreditation
they needed, and today, we have many doctors, nurses, pharmacists and
teachers who were first trained in South America. Others did not go
back to school, and are labouring away at jobs which will pay for their
children's university educations. Escaping the strict class system many
of them had at home, Latins here have have entered all stratas of our
society, setting up businesses, working in the government, finding work
as professionals and labourers. Through their many community and social
organizations they try to hold on to their language and customs, trying
to imbue their children with an appreciation of their cultural ancestry.
As we can see in the documentary "The Furthest Possible Place,"
Ana Maria Seifert has done just that.