Comunidade newspaper, 1975-1979. Part 1: Records and commentary

João Medeiros was born in São Pedro do Nordestinho, on the island of São Miguel, Azores. Like Domingos Marques, he joined the seminary (on the island of Terceira however) at age of 13. His studies would lead him to Couço, Sta. Iria de Azóia, and Olivais on the mainland of Portugal. In 1975, João obtained a Masters degree in Community Development and Organization at York University. Initially, João Medeiros’ goal was to become a priest and go to Mozambique, but during the latter years of his seminary studies he became politicized and critical of the Portuguese regime, and so decided against it.

In August of 1971, at age 26, João migrated to Canada where he joined his parents and siblings. João was involved in both the Portuguese community and Toronto politics as a member of the New Democratic Party and the Reform Movement – formed by both conservative and progressive individuals to advocate against high-rise developments. The NDP approached him while he was working at the Y.M.C.A., initially seeking his translation services, then asking his opinion on community issues and encouraging him to run for political office. The NDP proposed that he ran for alderman in the 1978 municipal elections in ward 4 with their candidate Joe Pantalone (also his first election). He finished in fourth place, ahead of the other four Portuguese candidates. He would also become a manager at the Labourer’s International Union of North America (LIUNA), Local 185, and co-founder and President of the Portuguese Interagency Network (PIN).

*PIN’s archival collection has been donated to the Clara Thomas Archives and Special Collections, York University, by Cidália Pereira, with the assistance of the Portuguese Canadian History Project.

After finishing his secondary studies in Toronto, João Medeiros began looking for work with Portuguese associations, hoping to provide immigration services. At the time, the Portuguese and the recently arrived West Indian communities were involved in violent confrontations around Bathurst St. and Dundas St. Concerned with these incidents, the West End Y.M.C.A., located on the corner of College St. and Dovercourt Rd., sought to hire a Portuguese youth worker who could communicate with these youth. João got the job in May, 1972. His first task was to do a community analysis "to determine the major needs and develop programs that would meet them."* To help him with this task, João recruited five Portuguese volunteers under what was formally called the Portuguese Development Committee, among them was Domingos Marques. This advertisement to the West End Y.M.C.A. and the services provided by its Portuguese department was published in Comunidade in August, 1978.

*Domingos Marques and João Medeiros, "Filling the Information Gap" report (see last page of exhibit)

 

It was this Committee that decided to publish the Portuguese-language newsletter, Informações, which began its distribution in August of 1972 and lasted until May 1975, when it was replaced by the newspaper Comunidade. The bulletin was intended to circulate useful information among the Portuguese community of Toronto on available social services in the city, government policies, entitlements, as well as Portuguese and Canadian political news. Its guidelines were to provide "well researched short articles based on the problems identified in the community analysis; simple Portuguese language."* Its distribution, 2000 copies per month, was initially free, and was often handed out in front of Portuguese churches. By 1975, the Committee decided to transform this newsletter into a community newspaper, and applied for a government grant. With that money they were able to hire three students to work on developing the newspaper.

In the last issue of Informações we can read the news about the hiring of Jorge Mendonça, Arnaldo Amaral, and Frank Pacheco, three grade 13 students at Central Technical High School.

*Domingos Marques and João Medeiros, "Filling the Information Gap" report (see last page of exhibit)

João Medeiros realized early on that in order to engage the community in any meaningful way, he had to form a support group that could reach out, discuss issues, and get people involved. With the creation of Comunidade, the Portuguese Development Committee recruited more volunteers and enlarged its team to thirty.With new members, new tasks, and a new more sophisticated structure, this group decided to re-brandthemselves as the Movimento Comunitário Português.

Filomena Almeida, who would later become Filomena Medeiros after marrying João Medeiros, was an important contributor to Comunidade, especially in its early years. What follows is an article published in the first issue of Comunidade, offering a profile of Filomena and of her contribution to the newspaper.

“FILOMENA ALMEIDA ‘AN ACTIVE YOUTH’

The newspaper “COMUNIDADE” decided to interview Filomena Almeida because she is a student involved in the Portuguese Community since an early age, and a persistent collaborator to the bulletin “INFORMACOES” with articles on education. Filomena Almeida is 23 years old, she graduated in Sociology from the University of Toronto in June, and is entering the faculty of “Social Work” in September to become a family social worker. One of the reasons that led her to be a social worker is because, in her words, “I always liked to be involved with people in a personal way, to work with people, and become involved with them in more than a superficial way.” Throughout the University’s secondary school [sic], Filomena has been very involved with such extra curricular activities as helping in the electoral campaigns of certain parties, teaching English to Portuguese people, etc. In regards to University and High School, Filomena Almeida says that, “a lot of people have the wrong idea about university life. They think that once you get into University or High School everything else stops, and they have to concentrate only on University or High School work. That’s wrong because it impoverishes their education and limits their comprehension about how society works. In University we learn theory, but the best way to practice that theory is to work in the community.” That is what Filomena did: three years ago the YMCA was interested in having Portuguese students teach English to Portuguese people. Filomena Almeida offered to perform this task and is already in her third year of Winter night school. Around the same time, the bulletin INFORMAÇÕES began its publication, in which she has participated ever since. Filomena worked voluntarily with mentally delayed [sic] Portuguese children, teaching them English, and was involved in research projects related with education in the Portuguese community. Filomena Almeida is only one among many young Portuguese students and workers involved in the community programs. However many more are needed, all! Francisco Pacheco,” July 11, 1975 Year 1, n.1: 3 (trans. Gilberto Fernandes).

This clipping of the Notícias do Y.M.C.A. (News From the Y.M.C.A.), published in the Comunidade issue of February, 1977, showcases some of the Portuguese staff and the different services they provided the community.

Located in the corner of College St. and Dovercourt Rd., the West End Y.M.C.A. provided many services to the Portuguese living in that area of the city. One such program was the Centro Recreativo dos Idosos Portugueses(Recreational Center for Elderly Portuguese).

In this image, staff member Angélica Ribeiro interacts with two clients of the Center. This photo was published in the Notícias do Y.M.C.A. (News From the Y.M.C.A.) section of the Comunidade issue of June, 1977.

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