Oscar Tecu knows the importance of breaking the silence.
Having been “evicted” by the Guatemalan government for their divisive advocacy work 12 years ago, Tecu’s family took up roost in Fredericton, where they have since continued their efforts to support Guatemalans struggling for political, social, economic and cultural justice through the Maritime-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network (BTS).
These efforts have manifested themselves in a number of events and initiatives over the years. The annual Noche Latina, hosted jointly by the BTS and the Multicultural Association of Fredericton (MCAF), is just one of them.
“We chose [Fredericton] because we had friends on the east coast through BTS, and the following year, my dad started becoming really involved in the Noche Latina. I’ve been a part of it every year really without meaning to,” said 20-year-old Tecu, now a co-organizer of the Noche Latina.
Offering everything from a traditional Guatemalan meal to a series of Latin American performances – with proceeds going toward BTS initiatives and a special MCAF scholarship – the annual event brings Frederictonians from all walks of life together on the first Friday in February for a night of fun and fundraising.
“You are purchasing a ticket to enjoy a great night of entertainment and good food, but also contributing to making a change in people’s lives,” said Tecu, adding that the event works dually to support a good cause and raise awareness about human rights issues in Latin America.
“There will be live music, dancers and a silent auction that people can take part in.”
And, of course, there will be a mouth-watering meal: a Guatemalan feast set to feature everything from chicken to the traditional pico de gallo.
It’s an evening co-organizer Valerie Kilfoil looks forward to helping present every year.
“It’s a great evening that’s fun for families . . . [and] because we co-partner with the MCAF, there will be performers from all over,” said Kilfoil, who has been involved in the event as a main organizer for just around a decade.
“Last year was the first year we partnered with the MCAF because they’ve been such huge supporters of the event and the work we do in Guatemala. That was a big change for us, to co-share and keep the money locally.”
Kilfoil said the funds raised from this year’s event will go partly to the MCAF’s “Newcomers Scholarship,” a bursary that supports children refugees and immigrants who wish to continue their education at the university level, and partly to continued solidarity work with the BTS.
Kilfoil believes the Noche Latina impacts the local and global community in more ways than one.
“For one, it helps us continue our solidarity work, [but] it also helps the people here understand that the choices that they make in their daily lives can have a huge impact on what happens around the world,” she said, referencing such BTS initiatives as the promotion of free trade coffee.
“[These decisions] can make a huge difference in the quality of life for people in other countries.”
Quite like choosing to attend this year’s Noche Latina, set to take place on Feb. 7 from 6 p.m. onward at the Wilmot United Church.
Tickets are $12 for adults and $25 for a family of two adults and two children, and can be purchased at Westminster Books, True Foods Organics, MCAF, or by calling 506-454-8292.