People of Georgian: Parents’ meet-cute like ‘old school Tinder,’ says marketing specialist

What’s your story?

October is Latin American Heritage Month. To celebrate, all this month we are sharing stories from members of Georgian’s Latin community. Plus, our International Centre is sharing fascinating information about a different Latin country every day this month on Instagram – make sure to follow along!

People of Georgian: Meet Karen Cabrera

How my parents met is a story in itself.

If I remember correctly, my grandmother was renting a room or a house to one of my aunts, who had already migrated here before my mother.

My dad would go over to this unit to clean it and he met my aunt, and I guess throughout time my aunt had shown my father a picture of my mother, and she told him, “You should go meet her.”

This is like old school Tinder.

A headshot of a person with long brown hair, black leather jacket and white shirt with pineapples on it.
Karen Cabrera

At the time, my mother was still living in Ecuador, so he went all the way there to meet her and then they fell in love.

My dad, who was from Spain, came back here and got the paperwork ready. It took a few months to bring her up here, and then they got married.

It’s quite the story!

They made a lot of sacrifices, and I think that’s true to a lot of immigrant stories.

Karen Cabrera

My mom immigrated here in 1980 at 20 years old.

They were very young when they got married. My dad actually immigrated here when he was eight, so he had been in Canada for a while at that point.

But my mom, you know, she had to kind of break through language barriers and learn English.

She went to OCAD University, she got her schooling done, and from there she became an interior designer with Bank of Montreal.

To think about it now… To be 20, leave all your friends and your mom and siblings behind, and go to a whole other country to get married and go to school… That must have been really hard.

Two people with black hair and dressed casually hold cameras while standing in a street, with red barrels, graffiti and garbage in the background.
Karen’s mom in 1984. She’s snapping photos in Kensington Market for her Interior Design program at OCAD University, alongside a friend.
Expansive green hills in a countryside.
A photo Karen took in Ecuador.

‘The point of Latin American Heritage Month is highlighting people who really contribute’

And then a totally different climate, too. She came right to the snow from a hot country.

They made a lot of sacrifices, and I think that’s true to a lot of immigrant stories.

It’s important to highlight their cultures because they’ve raised us based on their traditions. So that’s important to me to honour those traditions and keep them alive as much as I can.

The point of Latin American Heritage Month is highlighting people who really contribute, whether on an entertainment or political level. It’s nice to showcase that we’ve contributed a lot to the world in different forms, culture wise, food wise, dance, entertainment, and more.

Chichen Itza in Mexico - a pyramid structure with steps on each side to the top. People walk in the grassy foreground.
Chichen Itza in Mexico. Photo by Karen Cabrera.
A balcony against a yellow wall, with flowerpots along the railing.
Riviera Maya. Photo by Karen Cabrera.

So get out there and dance. Try new things. Try new culinary experiences.

Eddy’s Artisan Latin Bakery downtown Barrie is really good; their empanadas are amazing. There’s The Mexican House, and Mexhico, and many others.

If you have friends or coworkers who are of Latin American descent, reach out to them and see how you can support them or celebrate with them.

People can get mixed up because I’m half Spanish, which means I’m half European and half Ecuadorian.

‘It’s important to know where I came from, where my parents come from’

You can still have European ancestry and celebrate your Latin heritage, even if you don’t fit into a stereotype as to what South American looks like.

I think it’s important to know where I came from, where my parents come from.

You can enjoy this beautiful country, of course, and still keep parts of your heritage and your roots, and still celebrate that and enjoy Canadian life.

That’s why they came here in the first place – to enjoy a better life.

Karen Cabrera, Marketing Specialist, International Education & Development.

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