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Chilean President Salvador Allende, Chile, 1970-1973. Courtesy of Library of the National Congress of Chile. Licensed via Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Chile license


Poster promoting Compañeros show at Lyra Coffee House, Toronto, 1983. Courtesy of Marcelo Puente.


Compañeros performing at Danforth Music Hall, 147 Danforth Avenue, 1978. Courtesy of Marcelo Puente.


Salvador Allende Court street sign unveiling, Salvador Allende Court, September 11, 2017. Image by Luis Catalán. Courtesy of Patricio Bascunan.


  • Salvador Allende Court

    Solidarity with Greek Community


    Chile under President Allende featured many programs intended to lift the country’s poorest out of poverty and strengthen the nation’s self-reliance and identity. Inspired by the community work of their homeland, Chileans arriving in Toronto began to politically mobilize. Many Chilean exiles found solidarity with like-minded groups in Toronto such as the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights in Uruguay and the Committee for Human Rights in Argentina. 

    The early Chilean community in Toronto also formed a special connection with the Greek community. Bound by leftist political ideology, musicians from these two communities formed a musical group in 1977 named Compañeros. The group fused the music from their native countries with politically-conscious lyrics and regularly played at venues in Greektown such as the Trojan Horse Cafe and Danforth Music Hall.


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  • Salvador Allende Court

    Salvador Allende School


    Other politically active groups such as the Chilean Students in Toronto, and later the Toronto Chilean Association (TCA), worked to bring awareness to Pinochet’s atrocities as well as provide newcomer services and support networks to other Chilean refugees in Canada.

    In 1981, the TCA opened La Escuela Presidente Salvador Allende (EPSA) or the Salvador Allende School. Originally located in the former Christie Public School on Christie Street, the school taught Chilean history and Canadian culture in Spanish, often to children of Chilean exiles. Over the next decade, hundreds of children passed through the school. After the end of Pinochet’s rule in 1989, enrolment dwindled as many returned to Chile. The school closed in 1994. 


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  • Salvador Allende Court

    Honouring the Chilean Community


    Although many Chileans returned to their home country following the end of Pinochet’s regime, many remained in Toronto, creating a lively Chilean community. A 2016 census estimated over 10,000 people of Chilean descent living in Toronto. The local community continues to thrive through organizations like Casa Salvador Allende, which provides scholarships for youths hoping to attend post-secondary education.

    In 2015, Toronto City Council voted unanimously to name a street in the Davenport neighborhood after Salvador Allende thanks to a campaign led by Casa Salvador Allende. The area surrounding the chosen street was selected due to the high congregation of Chilean immigrants living in the neighborhood since the first years of the Coup Wave. Luz Bascunan, who has lived in Toronto since she fled Chile during the 1973 coup, helped to drive the street-naming campaign: “We want our children, our children’s children, to see that there’s a place to remind them of this history.” 

     


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