INTERVIEW Frederico Haikal
Journalist, writer and woman of the letters and arts Rita Espechit
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aybe you have never heard about Rita Espechit, but Brazilian children and teens have been enjoying the creativity of this former medical student turned a journalist, writer and woman of the letters and arts for years now. In 2001, she left Belo Horizonte, scared with the sudden wave of violence that reached the capital of Minas Gerais state in the mid 90’s. She came with her family and settled in Edmonton, Alberta, and now she tells us a bit about the challenges of this new phase in her successful life. By Fátima Mesquita Wave: Why did you choose Edmonton? Rita Espechit: We picked it because of its size and strong economy. Here it’s easy to come and go, and people who don’t know you say “hello”, talk to you. There is a tradition of helping each other. I really like it here. Though sometimes the conservatives bother me. It’s a kind of mild conservatism, different, but it’s there, present and this bothers me.
You only vote in your area and, if your candidate doesn’t win, your vote goes straight to the garbage can. It creates an incredible distortion. Ultimately, power is measured by the number of seats in Parliament when the total number of votes for NDP can be much greater than the number of seats they get. The system is designed in such a way that it only keeps the status quo.
“I’M NOT A VISIBLE MINORITY, BUT I’M AN AUDIBLE MINORITY”.
Wave: What has been your biggest challenge? Rita Espechit: I don’t believe in borders, so I feel quite at home here. My challenge is my profession, because it’s based on the Portuguese language. I used to be Rita Espechit and suddenly was just “Alice’s mother” (laughs). But I like this challenge. When I came I was 40 years old. I left behind a stable job, a comfortable and predictable life. The move revitalized me. I was solidifying and suddenly had to break everything up again. This is good for your brain. I learnt a lot moving to a new country.
Wave: What do you like / dislike about Canada? Rita Espechit: In Brazil, we live in a high tension mode and here the voltage is different, and I like this. The multiculturalism is also a positive thing, though I feel that it’s a confusing concept, especially when we are talking about cultural policies. The government makes a bit of a crazy salad with this idea. One example is this definition of “visible minority”. People can’t just look at me and see I’m not from here. But I’m an “audible minority”. When I open my mouth, the discrimination starts (laughs). Of course, if I compare Canada with other countries, we live in a paradise for immigrants, but there is still plenty of room for improvements. But what really bothers me is the electoral system. 8
“I REALLY MISS THE TRADITIONAL CLAY WATER FILTER ” Wave: Do you miss anything from Brazil? Rita Espechit: I really miss the traditional clay water filter. I want to bring one... And I miss people.
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Published on Mar 25, 2010
All Things Brazilian in Canada. All Things Brazilian. Bilingual bi-monthly magazine targeting all people interested in the Brazilian cultur...