Celebrating Winnipeg’s Portuguese community

By: Andrew Swan, MLA for Minto

As published in The Metro

August 14, 2015

Immigrants from many countries and their families have made up the fascinating blend of cultures in the West End for a long, long time. A large part of this mosaic is the Portuguese community.

The ’60s and ’70s were the peak years of Portuguese immigration to Manitoba, as hard-working families settled around Sargent Avenue, finding jobs in construction and textiles, as well as setting up small businesses. Many of their children are now established professionals — including doctors and nurses, lawyers, and a large number of teachers. While many Portuguese Manitobans now make their homes elsewhere in Winnipeg, the area around Sargent remains the vibrant heart of the Portuguese community. Don’t believe me? Come down to Sargent when Portugal plays a World Cup or Euro Cup match and watch the street turn into a sea of red and green.

Portuguese businesses and clubs continue to thrive. Viena do Castelo (819 Sargent Ave.) and the Lisbon Bakery (717 Sargent Ave.) receive rave reviews citywide for their creations. You will also find two important cultural centres which have supported Portuguese Manitobans for more than 40 years: the Portuguese Association of Manitoba at the corner of Young and Notre Dame, and Casa Do Minho located at the corner of Wall and Sargent.

If you want to learn more, I strongly recommend getting out to both centres during Folklorama. The Portuguese Association hosts the first week from Aug. 2 to 8 and will feature many types of seafood and chorizo sausage, and what I believe is the best cultural display in the entire festival. Casa Do Minho’s Pavilion runs the next week from Aug. 9 to 15 where you can check out dances with superb live music and fashions from northern Portugal as well as Vinho Verde (green wine), a local Minho specialty perfect for a warm summer evening.

I am pleased that Casa Do Minho has once again qualified for the provincial Community Places Program, which provides grants to community and cultural centres across the province. This newest grant will assist with renovations to the stage and entry area.

I want to thank the Portuguese community in Manitoba for all that they have contributed to our city and province. Their stories make the West End even stronger.