MARÍA "CHIQUI" RAMÍREZ
María, of Mayan origin, worked as a teacher in Guatemala. The shift from a democratic government to a dictatorship turned educators into a military target. Initially as an activist, and then hiding in the mountains, María joined one of the guerrilla organizations in the country. Her husband was killed and she had to abandon her children to survive. She fled to Mexico and eventually in Canada found the peace that for decades was elusive.
Claudio Ruíz grew up in Nicaragua. As a teenager, he lived the conflict that overthrew the dictatorship of the Somoza family and led the Sandinistas to power. One of his siblings initially took part in the revolution, but when he wanted to leave, he was labeled a "traitor." The entire family left Costa Rica and Claudio eventually arrived to Canada, where today he continues to work for the Latino community.
During his adolescence in the 1960s, he saw how the rise of Salvador Allende transformed the living conditions of the Chilean people, especially the poor. He joined the Socialist Party and participated in the Allende government when he was elected president of Chile. During the coup, Félix was arrested and tortured and then taken to a concentration camp. After a few years, he managed to leave for Italy where he continued to denounce the dictatorship, and finally arrive in Canada. It is here that Félix became a refugee judge.
Manuel Rodríguez grew up on the outskirts of San Salvador. His parents were teachers and always sought to teach him respect for life and diversity. The intensification of the war in El Salvador, in the late 1970s, forced his family to migrate to the capital. While studying at the Jesuit University, Manuel saw how some of his professors were killed for opposing the regime of the time. The family sought refuge in Canada in the mid 80's where Manuel began a successful career in communications.