Two University of Guelph professors were among prominent Hispanic Canadians who visited Parliament Hill in Ottawa last month.

A person puts her arm around two women on each side of her while standing in a carpted hallway
Dr. Alicia Viloria-Petit stands with Karina Gould, minister of families, children and social development (centre) and Dr. Rosario Gómez

Dr. Rosario Gómez, a professor in the School of Languages and Literatures in the College of Arts, and Dr. Alicia Viloria-Petit, a professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences within the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC), took part in the Hispanic Mission to Parliament Hill on April 24.  

They attended the event along with other past recipients of the 10 Most Influential Hispanic Canadian awards from across the country. The delegation also included leaders of Hispanic/Latin American associations and media outlets. 

During a meeting organized by the Latin American Group at Global Affairs Canada, the delegates discussed Canada’s close ties with Hispanic Latin America. They also learned about programs such as CanExport, which invests in innovative ideas to bring Canadian business to the international market. 

“Equally important, it was an opportunity to ensure that our voices continue to be heard, that our past and present contributions to Canadian academic, political, economic, social and cultural fabric are acknowledged, and that we are given the necessary opportunities to play an active role in Canada’s future,” said Viloria-Petit. “Canada’s diversity is one of its more valuable resources.” 

Added Gómez, “Multiculturalism, and multilingualism are fundamental characteristics of Canadians and Canada that must be strengthened in every aspect of life, especially in education. That’s where we are shaping minds to appreciate and respect differences.”  

Delegates discuss emerging issues for Hispanic Latin American community  

Invited to the House of Commons by MP Julie Dzerowicz, the delegation was recognized during Question Period. The group met with Pablo Rodriguez, minister of Canadian heritage, and Karina Gould, minister of families, children and social development, to discuss emerging issues impacting the Hispanic Latin American community, and to better understand policies, programming and education impacting community members.  

In discussions with senators, the group talked about the increasing significance of the Hispanic Latin American community in building a more robust democracy. They learned about the federal government’s efforts to achieve equity, diversity and inclusion and to address global issues such as climate change.   

The group also met Mexican ambassador Carlos Joaquín Gonzalez and diplomats from several Spanish-speaking countries.  

A cancer researcher in OVC, Viloria-Petit was named among the 10 Most Influential Hispanic Canadians in 2016. Gómez, who studies Spanish sociolinguistics, received the award in 2012 along with U of G food science professor Dr. Alejandro Marangoni.  

Run by the Canadian Hispanic Business Alliance since 2007, the awards have recognized about 130 outstanding community members from across Canada.