“CASA de G.O.A.”
(Goans around the world are celebrating the achievement and the celebratory opening of Casa de G.O.A in Toronto. It continues a tradition Goans have achieved in most countries they have called home … as early as the mid 1800s. Blessings, always.)
What an amazing feat for the Toronto Goan Overseas Association. After half a century, our dynamic leader, President Selwyn Collaco, his dedicated committee and an army of volunteers have brought us to new heights, a significant and epic moment of progress!
As a founding member, a committee member and a volunteer in the early years, I feel a sense of deep relief and joy. Our early most difficult years, in the sixties and seventies, of intense effort and vision were not in vain.
As we watched the Inaugural Opening of “CASA de G.O.A.” from around the globe, Canada’s leaders recognized our Goan community with such high respect, we felt a deep sense of pride and belonging, as our ancestors did in Africa and India. The Goan community deserve to be on the Canada Census as “GOANS” finally! This effort achieved by President Selwyn and his committee! Canada’s leaders showed their authentic recognition of our Goan community with words such as “…active and engaged community that has made lasting and important contributions to our city and region…” “Your contributions have enriched our culture and energized the economy…” “Thank you for connecting & serving fellow Ontarians through your community service.”
These meaningful words have shown us how we have made significant progress in these fifty-plus years of existence. In the early sixties and seventies, our founding visionary father, Roque Barretto used innovative ways to bring Goans from across Canada together, a difficult task for us new immigrants who were trying to assimilate in a new country in the sixties. He made a significant plea, in a major Toronto newspaper, with a key advertisement call. In response to this call, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) telephoned Roque and inquired about the reason for the meeting, the location, and most of all the RCMP wanted to know more about the Goans! The difference of the perception of the Goans in the sixties, vastly differs with the perceptions of who the Goans are in 2021 – Progress indeed!
Through Roque’s persistence, with assistance from the two other founding fathers in the sixties, Wilfred Monteiro and Aloysius Vaz, and numerous founding members, the quest to form the G.O.A. continued with passion. Roque Barretto personally financed and shouldered the liability costs for initial rentals of halls (when our apartments could no longer hold meetings). He also personally financed the Ontario Provincial and Canadian registration fees for the flagship field hockey teams in the early formative years. The founding Goan Overseas Association Men’s and Women’s Field Hockey Teams provided the momentum for the formation of the G.O.A. These were immeasurable efforts by our founding fathers, now leading to our exquisite “CASA de G.O.A.”. This is indeed progress.
President Selwyn, his committee members and numerous volunteers and their families have carried the torch with their years of sacrifice and passion. This has culminated into a major transformation of the structure at 20 Strathearn Avenue, Unit 5, Brampton, Ontario, Canada. An empty structure has turned into a meticulously- designed home, so magnificent and warm, the warmth even transcending the waves across the globe.
The past presidents and committees, the founding fathers and members, and in particular, President Selwyn’s paternal aunt, the most dynamic first Goan Overseas Association woman leader, President Zulema de Souza must feel ecstatic that their continued decades of personal sacrifices and passion were not all in vain.
As my family and I watched the hoisting of the G.O.A. flag next to the Canadian flag high above our Province and our beautiful, adopted country, Canada, we were spellbound in a deep sense of joy. Our early days of struggle were well-worth the effort. Progress was indeed in the making.
We reminisced about the first time our late father, Lazarus Fernandes, who was a most patriotic and dynamic founding member of the Goan Overseas Association, talked with the founding fathers about forming a Goan Association. He played a key advisory role in the sixties, to the founding fathers (two of them being his cousins) in the formation of the Goan Overseas Association. He had significant expertise in Goan organizations and the formation of Goan newspapers in Africa and India. Lazarus Fernandes, in his vision, in the early days, proposed that our newly formed Goan Overseas Association should have a flag, which would be a symbol of spirit, strength, stability and progress. This resolution was eventually passed at the founding meeting. Our father would have been supremely overjoyed at the sight of our majestic GOAN OVERSEAS ASSOCIATION flag flying high above in our great country, Canada! “CASA de G.O.A.” - a sure sign of progress!
Thank you to our President, Selwyn and your family for your vision, your patriotism, your strength, your zeal, your authenticity and acclaimed ethical values. Thank you to your highly dedicated and hard-working committee members and their families for their numerous hours of selfless hours of service to our G.O.A. community. Thank you to our army of amazing volunteers who provided their esteemed expertise so spontaneously to our organization. Your decades of effort have led to our significant progress. You have taken us to a new highly innovative level!
The words of our most admired Indian Prime Minister, the late Mahatma Gandhi, resonate loudly in “CASA de G.O.A.”.
“If we are to make progress, we must not repeat history but make new history. We must add to the inheritance left by our ancestors.”
Mitelia I. Paul, Ed.D, OCT, NBCT