The Canorient Christian Association was formed in Montreal on December 31st, 1971, when it received its Charter from the Federal Government to establish a social organization for the community with power to establish Chapters elsewhere in Canada.
In 1974, Charles Fernandes, Aelred Pecus, Len Cardozo, Fred D’Silva, Stan Francis and Len Pinto agreed that it would be a great idea to establish a Chapter in Toronto that would serve as a focal point for new immigrants of the local community to interact socially and to obtain guidance and emotional strength from established Canadians. Furthermore, it was important for our Christian community from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka & Burma (now Myanmar) to have an organization of its own.
These pioneers had a dream but even they could not have imagined how big, influential and vibrant the Toronto Chapter would be 44 years later. The fact that the pioneers in the Toronto Chapter would have the foresight to invest in the acquisition of a facility to be used as a Community Centre showed that they were true believers of the vision of the Canorient.
The late Tony Moscrop, a senior member of the community, left a valuable legacy to the Association in the form of the Canorient Community Centre. With his dedication, doggedness and hard work, together with the support and encouragement of then President Archie Martis and his Building Committee, the Canorient found a home at Hanlan Road in Woodbridge. It has been a splendid venue for most activities since 1984 and a testament to Tony’s vision.
On August 23rd 1989, in order to establish an independent entity and safeguard its assets, the Toronto Chapter applied for and received Letters Patent from the Government of Ontario under its new name The Canorient Christian Association of Metropolitan Toronto.
Over the years, the Association grew in membership and activities and provided a valuable service to the community. There were debates, talks, musical events, dances, Christmas and New Year Eve celebrations, and the annual picnic at Brown’s Bay in the Thousand Islands where Montrealers and Torontonians converged to meet and have fun. There was also an awareness of the role of the community in a multicultural society, which was encouraged by a Fr. Lombardy, an Italian Canadian priest, involved with immigration and well connected with the Ontario Government. He provided background and a perspective on how the different waves of Italian immigrants had adjusted to life in Canada, and how the Canorient could move forward leveraging that knowledge and experience.
In the political sphere, it was the late Len Cardozo who was a driving force in getting our people interested and involved in the political process, no matter what their political affiliations. It was only through visibility that the community would get ahead, he said. The policy of advocacy and political involvement to support issues that matter to members of the Canorient continues to be a key driver for the association today.
Many Past Presidents and Executive Committee members of the Canorient, often with family support, have done tremendous work in furthering the interests and enjoyment of its members. Ex- President, Angela Menezes, who had been in office for the past 8 years, has carried on that tradition and enhanced the reputation of the Canorient. The first All Parishes Picnic in 2011 was an outstanding success and a logical evolution of the annual picnic to reflect the changing demographics of the members. Sporting events such as Table Tennis, Volley Ball, Car Rallies, Whist and other Tournaments have been garnering increasing interest in recent times, and are a credit to the organizers of these events.
The Toronto Chapter publishes a periodical called “The Contact” every year. Thanks to the ‘Contact’, members of the Canorient are kept informed of the goings-on – a remarkable service provided by many dedicated Editors over the last 40 years.
The association began and has been throughout, an institution created and sustained solely by the faculty of dreams; it’s very existences depend on the dreams and beliefs of those who so generously serve in its ranks. Forty-four years is a remarkable achievement, a dream come true.