Reflections on Hispanic Heritage Month and the Ethics of Solidarity

  • November 02, 2020
  • Rolando Aguilera, legal counsel – Indigenous Justice Division, Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General

As Hispanic Heritage Month in Ontario wraps up, I take this opportunity to reflect on the significance of this commemorative month. Five and a half years ago, the Ontario Legislature enacted the Hispanic Heritage Month Act, 2015. The preamble succinctly sets out the rationale for the Act:

By proclaiming the month of October as Hispanic Heritage Month in Ontario, the province recognizes the rich contributions of Hispanic-Canadians to our social, economic, political and multicultural fabric. Hispanic Heritage Month is an opportunity to remember, celebrate and educate future generations about the outstanding achievements and contributions of Hispanic people in the province.

Recognizing the contributions of “Hispanics” to the social, economic, political and multicultural fabric of the province is an important step to creating a sense of inclusion and acceptance as worthy members of our society.

However, I have always felt uneasy about the term “Hispanic.” Who is being referred to by the term? Is Hispanic a racial category? Is it an ethnicity? Is it a linguistic community? Do the various constituent members of this imagined community share a sufficient commonality to have a bona fide sense of community?