This is so awesome, I'm not even sure where to start. On the eve of Portuguese Heritage Month which kicks off in June, I get word from the fabulous Terry Costa (Terry really is fabulous - the man is a machine and I love him for all of his hard work) that Portuguese is now a recognized language in BC meaning that students can take Portuguese classes (if offered I guess) towards their high school graduation. Here's the official press release:
This week, on a visit to British Columbia, Portugal’s Secretary of State for Communities, Dr. Antonio Braga, received a two-part gift from Hon. Ben Stewart, Minister Responsible for Multiculturalism. First, the Province of British Columbia acknowledgement of the Portuguese participation in the region since 1850s with a proclamation for Portuguese Heritage Month (June 2010) and the most important words that Portuguese-language begins to be recognized, as of August 2010, as an elective language towards credits for high-school diplomas.This is so exciting! It's wonderful to see my heritage honoured this way - can't wait to break out all the red and green for both Portuguese Heritage Month and World Cup!
This news gives Terry Costa, Canada’s Consultant to Portugal (Language, Education and Culture Commission) great pride. “As a Canadian of Portuguese roots, I am ecstatic with this great news,” says Costa “finally my ancestors language is being acknowledge by my province as an important part of our culture.” Costa who founded Portuguese Heritage Month in 2004 adds that the news arriving a few days before the launch of the 2010 festivities, especially at a time of lack of funding and support, give that extra incentive towards the celebrations and notes that he hopes to see an increase in enrolment in Portuguese-language studies, “now that students can work towards elective credits to complete their high-school diploma”. Also, as the VP for the Portuguese-Canadian National Congress, Costa acknowledges that it is time for the language and culture to join the ranks of other languages like German and Spanish that have been granted these opportunities many years ago.
Portuguese speakers worldwide are estimated well over 210 million. Portuguese language is the 6th most spoken in the planet, 3rd on the internet. Eight countries have Portuguese as the official language: Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guine-Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal (including the autonomous regions of Azores and Madeira Islands), S. Tome & Principe and Timor; as well, due to historic ties, various regions of the world including Macau (China) and Goa/Damao (India) celebrate their Portuguese influences. The Portuguese language crosses all continents and its emigrants and descendants can be found in British Columbia since 1850s. An estimated 50,000 B.C. residents hail from a Portuguese region or are descendants of the Portuguese.