Latin American community members in Vancouver paid tribute to the late Waldo Briño at the third annual Inspirational Latin Awards ceremony Wednesday (July 2).
An award in Briño’s name was among the prizes distributed at the event to recognize the contributions of Latinos in the region.
“Waldo worked for many, many years with the community,” his wife, Maria Soledad Sara, said in an interview.
“He [left] a big legacy for our community, but not just for our community, also for Canada and for Vancouver.”
Briño, who died in September 2013, was vice-president of the Vancouver Latin American Cultural Centre, contributed to local committees including the city’s multicultural advisory committee and the mayor’s engaged city task force, and helped to establish outreach and support for the homeless.
Vision Vancouver councillor and acting deputy mayor Heather Deal said Briño was “very important to our culture and our fabric as a city”.
“Waldo brought his heart and soul and inspiration to all of us in making it a better city for culture, for economics, for integration of new immigrants…we already miss him dearly,” she told the crowd gathered at Edgewater Casino.
Latincouver executive director Paola Murillo noted that Briño inspired her and many others to give back to their community—a legacy that she hopes will continue to motivate up-and-coming leaders.
“It’s not easy when you’re a newcomer…but you still say ‘I can do it’,” Murillo told the Straight.
“And they believe that they can do it, so they are the ones who are inspiring new generations or new people, saying ‘if they did it, I’m going to do it’.”
Sophie Lavieri, a senior lecturer at Simon Fraser University, won the Waldo Briño award for work in the community. Lavieri is a founder of Science in Action, a free science outreach program for students with limited exposure to sciences.
Another recipient at this year’s awards ceremony was Patricia Cruz, in the business and entrepreneur category, for her work as a founder of Angels There For You home and health-care services.
Writer Carmen Aguirre was also recognized in the cultural, arts or environment achievement category.
Aguirre said she arrived in Canada as a political refugee from Chile when she was six years old in 1974.
“My parents had absolutely nothing,” she stated as she accepted the award. “And I’m completely inspired by the Chilean community in exile. It is their story that I have been telling for the last 20 years, and I hope to continue to do that.”
Periodontist Scott Yamaoka received the award for an altruist community member with non-Latino roots, for his work treating orphans in Mexico.
Lluvia Meneses, founder of the Faraway and Latin Runners program, was recognized in the sports and athletic achievement category, and Canadian College won the sustainable practices in Latin America award for its incorporation of digital media into its English curriculum.
The awards ceremony was part of a week-long series of events organized by Latincouver.
The Carnaval del Sol takes place on Granville Street this weekend, and will include live music, art, food vendors, and street soccer.