Born in Managua, Nicaragua |
Maria arrived, with her family in Chilliwack, BC, coming to Canada in the 1980’s to escape Nicaragua’s civil war. After meeting her spouse at university in Fredericton New Brunswick, the couple went to Toronto so that Maria could attend graduate school at York University. At York, Maria focused on Women, Gender, and Sexuality in Latin America and became involved with Casa Canadiense, a Toronto-based non-profit Canadian-Nicaraguan partnership. This organization supports grassroots community development in Nicaragua and seeks to educate Canadian youth on global issues. She also collaborates closely with Casa’s sister organization, Pueblito Canada; which is an international development agency that delivers, through collaborative partnerships, transformative education for children and youth in the Americas. Maria explains how she is pleased to be able to give back to Nicaragua through her work in Toronto’s non-profit sector. She says the city is home because she has lived here longer than in any other Canadian city, and it is the city where Maria and her spouse got their first “real” apartment.
Toronto as Home
La Bella Managua - a Nicaraguan restaurant at Bloor/Ossington was one of the first places where Maria went to eat after moving here. She says it gives her a taste of Nicaragua whenever she is craving gallo pinto or fresco de tamarindo, and she says “it speaks volumes of the cultural diversity in the city”. Maria also points out how her non-Nicaraguan family and friends also enjoy eating there and she loves being able to share this part of her culture with them.
Connection with the Past
The Güegüense is a satirical drama which dates back to the 16th century - a signature folkloric tradition combining theatre, dance, and music. Maria explains how The Güegüense is one of the earliest known indigenous works of theatre/drama in the Americas, and is also symbolic of the deep-seated political consciousness of the Nicaraguan people. In 2005, the Güegüense was proclaimed by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, making Nicaragua the only country in Central America to have two proclaimed UNESCO masterpieces (the first being Oral Traditions and Expressions of the Garifuna in 2003). As someone who enjoys the arts, politics and satire, Maria is proud of Nicaragua’s Güegüense and its international fame. These dolls are also representative of Nicaragua’s rich artisan culture and she says that each time she visits family in Nicaragua, she makes sure to stop by the city of Masaya. Masaya is known as the “Cradle of Nicaraguan Folklore” and there one can witness a wealth of folkloric traditions and performances and find the country’s largest artisan’s market. Masaya is where she purchases mementoes to add a little “Nica-flavour” to her Toronto home and it is also where this doll is from.