Her name is Alanis Ortiz Espinoza, she is only 23 years old but she made her voice heard in the House of Commons.
As part of the Daughters of the Vote 2021 initiative, she represented her federal riding, Brampton Center and communicated her vision for Canada to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other political leaders.
Although she was born in Canada, she feels 100% Canadian and 100% Panamanian. Her parents came to the country during the military dictatorship of Manuel Antonio Noriega in Panama.
Alanis is passionate about politics and she is becoming a young leader in the Latin American community in Toronto.
The Bridge talked with Alanis about her experience as a “Daughter of the Vote”.
Tell us about your participation at the Daughters of the Vote 2021 initiative?
I was selected to represent my home federal riding, Brampton Center, in the House of Commons by the Daughters of the Vote 2021 initiative. From March 5 to 8, 2021, I took the seat of my Member of Parliament and represented my community and communicated my vision for Canada to my fellow delegates and politicians. I heard from many Members of Parliament, Senators, politicians, and the leaders of each political party of Canada. I learned about what it is like to participate in politics as a woman and I got a great feel for what it would be like to have a seat in parliament! In addition, I participated as a Community Member of the Committee on Immigration and Citizenship Committee where I raised relevant immigration issues occurring in my federal riding of Brampton Centre, and how unfortunately, COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted immigrants and refugees in Peel. I raised issues of systemic racism, the lack of COVID related benefits and support at large experienced by a large number of immigrants, refugees, and newcomers to Canada.
What was the reaction of the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to what you and the other participants expressed?
Justin Trudeau addressed all of us delegates of International Women’s Day and said, “Canada needs [the delegates’] ideas and drive. Because when you add women, you change politics – and you change it for the better.” This was great to hear from Trudeau and it reminded me of what I already know – that we need more women and more specifically, women of colour in politics. Our voices in any aspect of social life and the democratic system is imperative. I encourage us all to dream big and make vital changes to the country’s political sphere.
What does it mean for you and for the Latin American community to participate in Daughters of the Vote 2021 initiative?
As a Latina and more specifically a Canadian/Panamanian, the fact that I have been invited to participate in this event means to me that anything is possible. My parents immigrated to Canada in the eighties during Noriega’s rule and from a very young age, they instilled in me that I can accomplish anything I dream of with hard work and diligence. Participating in this event has brought me great pride, not only because of the high degree of selection involved, but also because I hope my participation can inspire and empower other young women to bring forth their passion in all the endeavors they seek. For Latinos in Canada, I hope that my participation in this conference can bring them hope for a better future, inspiration to be more involved and confidence in knowing that if I can do it – they can do it too!
Canada is a multicultural country, it welcomes people from all over the world and has created a diverse society. How do you conceive of multiculturalism and how would you define your identity?
Canada is quite a multicultural country which I am very happy to have been born and raised in. The city I grew up in (Brampton) has grown to become one of the most diverse cities in Canada and has one of the fastest growing populations in Canada; and when compared to other
municipalities, it has ranked among those with the highest immigrant populations nationally. I view this diversity as beautiful, integral, and sacred – it must be protected and work needs to be done to stop the systemic racism that continues to hurt newcomers to Canada.
The way I identify myself is 100% Canadian and 100% Panamanian. I do not feel that because I was born here that I am any less Panamanian or that because my ancestors are from Panama that I am any less Canadian. I am proud of both my Panamanian heritage and of Canada for welcoming my family.
After this professional experience, what are your plans for the future?
I aspire to become a successful lawyer and continue to actively volunteer in my community. I hope to use my experience as a «Daughter of the Vote» to inspire and empower other young women to advocate for themselves and their communities. In addition, I also intend to be an inspiring representative of the Latin community in Canada, and above all, make Panama proud! I am so proud of my roots and my resilient ancestors that came before me.
How can people follow your career?
To stay in touch with me, please feel free to follow me on all my social media accounts. I frequently post about my interests, endeavors and successes!
You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Do you want to send a message to the Latin American community in these hard times because of the pandemic?
My message to the Latin community in Canada, especially during these difficult times, with the global pandemic, is that we take this tragic experience that we have lived with and use it as an opportunity to learn, to be better people, to promote the spirit of support and to come together even more as a community.
Although we have experienced so many difficulties during this pandemic – job insecurity, psychological stress, a lack of support, just to name a few – we must remember that our Latin community has overcome many crises, abrupt and difficult changes, acts of violence, etc. and has always come forward. Somos personas capaces, fuertes, valientes y resistentes y estoy orgullosa de ser parte de esta comunidad!
The Bridge is a bilingual digital platform that promotes multiculturalism and inclusion in Canada. We want to foster the sense of belonging of those immigrants who have made Canada their home.
With our work, we are aiming to improve the lifestyle of the Latin American people among other minorities. We want to encourage their participation in the Canadian society with equal opportunities and rights. We are against racism, discrimination, and stereotypes. Go beyond!
The Bridge es una plataforma digital bilingüe que promueve el multiculturalismo y la inclusión en Canadá. Buscamos fomentar entre los migrantes un sentido de pertenencia al país que se ha convertido en su «segundo hogar.»
Con nuestro trabajo, queremos mejorar las condiciones sociales de los miembros de las minorías en Canadá, entre ellos la comunidad latinoamericana. Deseamos fomentar la plena participación de los latinos en la sociedad canadiense con igualdad de derechos, oportunidades y libertades. Combatimos el racismo, la discriminación, los estereotipos y prejuicios. ¡Ve más allá!