Plaza de los Coches, Cartagena - Colombia
By Jose Fernando Pelaez
Co-Founder Casa Cultural Colombiana
The reader will forgive this mental gap, the exact dates escape me, but not the motives, nor the initiatives that made us create Casa Cultural Colombiana.
It was the middle of the 90’s and with much sadness we were witnessing the final days of an organization called Club Colombia, an entity that realized a number of important initiatives serving various in the Latin American community during its existence.
About that same time a member of our community had suffered a very specific need. The disinterested and outstanding response from the Colombian community to help this person, whom no one had ever even known, lead us to understand that our community was not at all oblivious to that patriotic sentiment.
We had so many reasons to be disenfranchised from the social world around us: Bad news, both at the local level as well as those coming out of Colombia, the lack of a community presence, our inability to present the positive face of our nation or our joy, our folklore and the timid effect that our lack of knowledge of the Canadian culture created in us.
Dr. Clara Maria Leon, the Colombian General Consul of the day, called some members of our community to discuss the needs of the said compatriot. Later on she called upon them to plot ways in which our community could work in creating a more effective way to dispel the negative perception that existed about our community.
Slowly more and more people began to join Casa Cultural Colombiana and slowly we began to develop and deliver events that invited the local Colombians to feel that sense of community that was so characteristic of them.
The evolution has been interesting because it has allowed us to present a series of initiatives with decorum and social sense and because it has permitted us to have a common forum that clearly demonstrate the positive gems with which Colombians enrich the local cultural basket.
14th of December 1998 was the day we were officially incorporated as a formal organization, incorporated as a non-for-profit corporation. And sometime during the year 2000 we completed the redaction of the entity’s by-laws.
The volunteers that have conformed Casa Cultural Colombiana over the years went about organizing and developing activities that changed the negative perception that existed, and while their contributions met with a number of obstacles and personal and community sacrifices the results have, for the most part, been positive. Our cultural mosaic and our social involvement has transcended the Colombian community to be recognized and appreciated by other local Latin American communities and other sectors of the Canadian Cultural scene.
And the torch has been passed onto newer generations. The future looks promising.