The Centre for Spanish-Speaking Peoples is a non-profit, charitable organization serving new immigrants from 20 Spanish-speaking countries as well as members of other communities.
The Centre has a long and complex history. It was founded in 1973 under the leadership of director Gloria Montero, sociologist Ana Alberro, and immigration counselor Rempel Kathi. They and others were the first members of a corporation called “The Centre for Spanish Speaking Peoples,” whose main objective was to provide services for immigrants and workers from Spanish-speaking countries and support community activities.
The Centre for Spanish Speaking Peoples is happy to serve tens of thousands of Spanish speaking peoples in Toronto and throughout Canada each and every year.
Yet even before this, a group of Spanish women organized the celebration of Christmas in 1972 with women and Spanish-speaking children. That demonstrated the need for an organization to serve the growing Hispanic community in Toronto. Since 1974, the Center has received funding from Immigrant Settlement and Adaption Program (ISAP) of the Canada Employment Insurance Commission (CEIC). At that time, the Centre was located on Dupont Street near Davenport, which included a counseling program. New immigrants from Ecuador and Colombia increased the need for services.
The arrival of refugees from Chile, Uruguay and Argentina during the mid-1970s grew the community even more, and the Centre became the home of additional community development initiatives. The Centre also established a volunteer, legal consultation program with law students from the University of Toronto, not just for the purpose of establishing legal advice for Spanish-speaking workers, but also to establish a relationship between future lawyers of the province and the Hispanic community. This initiative has proved highly beneficial during the history of the Center. In 1978, our Legal Clinic received funding from the Ontario Legal Aid Plan (OLAP), establishing an important precedent for the funding of ethno-specific agencies.
In 1979, the Centre started English as a Second Language (ESL) programs and in 1981, founded the Women’s Program.
Today, the Centre for Spanish Speaking Peoples has added youth, volunteer and AIDS prevention programs. It is happy to serve tens of thousands of Spanish speaking peoples in Toronto and throughout Canada each and every year.