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Latin American Women's Collective marching on International Women's Day, John Street, 1985. Courtesy of Magaly San Martin.

Flyer for Sofia Montenegro event, 286 Harbord Street, 1988. Courtesy of R. Magaly San Martin.

Poster for the Primer Encuentro De Mujeres LatinoAmericanas (First Meeting of Latin American Women), Toronto, 1995.

  • Latin American Feminism in Toronto

    The Latin American Coalition Against Violence against Women and Children

    The Latin American Coalition Against Violence against Women and Children (LACEV) was formed in 1991 as a subsidiary of the Hispanic Development Council (HDC). LACEV faced an uphill battle from the onset of its creation as many within the HDC did not see violence against women as a “priority issue.” 

    Nonetheless, the group persisted and, in 1992, secured funding to hold workshops and training sessions for community workers on providing aid to the Latin American community. This included the development of a manual and a four-day training program, which featured a feminist focus. Steered by Ana Maria Santinoli, a former member of the LAWC, LACEV emphasized how women within the community faced daily experiences of racism and discrimination. 

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  • Latin American Feminism in Toronto


    On June 16, 1995, LACEV’s most ambitious project took form. Primer Encuentro de Mujeres Latino Americanas En Ontario (First Meeting of Latin American Women in Ontario) was a three-day event held at the Harbord Collegiate Institute. The event was inspired by Latin American and Caribbean feminist Encuentros, which took place in South America in the early 1980s. These events gathered Latin American feminists and activists to discuss gender-based oppression as well as social and political issues prevalent in the continent at the time. The 1995 Encuentro in Toronto became a rallying call for Latin American women living in Ontario.

    Below is a clip from a video produced by the organizers of the 1995 Encuentro featuring interviews with attendees:

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  • Latin American Feminism in Toronto

    The Toronto Encuentro and its impact

    The Toronto Encuentro was an effort to create a space for Latin American women to come together and share their experiences, while fostering a connection for future events. The three-day conference featured discussions and workshops on various issues, including reproduction rights, mental health, racism, and sexual violence. Over 500 people from all over Ontario and Quebec attended the event. Reports following the 1995 and 1996 Encuentros called for “…the creation of an organization that represented all Latin American women.”

    This recommendation was realized with the formation of MUJER in 2003. The organization provided a wide range of programs and services, including summer camps for young women that highlighted issues around body image, eating disorders, and identity, all within a feminist framework. Overall, the legacy of the Toronto Encuentro solidified a collective need for Latin American women in Canada to mobilize, leading to decades of programming and advocacy for Latin American women in Toronto. 

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