TD's Nadia Rivard cites special birthday celebration traditions
Our final story in the Hispanic Heritage Month series features Nadia Rivard, a Human Resources Advice Partner, HR Advice Channel for the TD Bank in Toronto.
Please introduce yourself
By any standard, large Canadian cities are quite diverse. Born and raised in Montreal, I come from a diverse family where the Latin culture is always celebrated. The striking differences are always subject to questions; but with time, these unique facts help me realize that I am part of two distinct cultures, and I have a unique opportunity to appreciate and celebrate the best of both.
What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you and your family?
To me, this month is about raising awareness of our culture and community. While I am Canadian born, my Dad came to Canada from Honduras. After initially struggling with the French language, he taught us that being Hispanic is about tradition, values and heritage. He raised us to know and appreciate our culture, so in my own life I am influenced by the beauty of our culture, along with its traditions, values and rich heritage.
Have you traditionally celebrated it and if so how?
I’ve been with TD Bank for 15 years, and I am a leader in the TD Diversity Group. Each year, along with Leo Salom, the Executive Vice President, we host a Hispanic Gala that brings together TD Bank employees who share in some of the unique offerings of our culture: Latin music and exotic food. The music is lively, and the food represents many different countries. We serve tacos from Mexico, ceviche from Peru and empanadas from Colombia. This year, the Gala will take place on October 29th and everyone is invited!
What are some of the traditions that your family celebrates and values?
Hispanic families instill in their children the importance of honor, good manners and respect for everyone. In my family, I always use the third-person singular pronoun to talk to my father. (“Usted” and never using "tu" second-person singular pronoun). Grammatically speaking, when I use the proper “Usted,” people know that my family is originally from Central America, because I demonstrate the respect that is so important to my culture.
In addition to good manners, we draw on our culture to celebrate birthdays. For girls in Hispanic countries, the 15th birthday, or quince anos, signifies a coming of age. Our family throws a big party, called a Quinceañera. As the mother of a 12-year-old girl, Mya, I am already planning this holiday. The festejada, or birthday girl, wears a formal dress and receives gifts from family members. Common Quinceañera gifts include tiaras, bracelets and earrings. A traditional Quinceañera begins with a church ceremony, followed by a party with food, music, and dancing.
Latinos birthday celebrations always have a piñata even if it's sunny, rainy or the cold winter season. You may have already seen cardboard piñatas decorated in brightly colored paper-mâché at children's birthday parties. The blend of paper mache’ and fringed tissue paper mixed with an assortment of party-themed treats makes it the highlight of the party. It’s even more exciting than birthday cake because of its mysterious contents. When kids – and adults, too – of all ages enter a party and see a hanging pinata, they know they are in for a special surprise. Blindfolded participants try to hit the piñata with a stick to break it open. When they accomplish this, they are rewarded with bountiful fruits, an assortment of candies and other decadent treats hidden inside.
How is your culture different from other Hispanic or Latin American cultures and what are some of the similarities?
What many Hispanic cultures share in common is that they all have and are defined by a set of thoughts, behaviors, beliefs, values and artifacts that they pass on to future generations. It is commonly held that culture addresses the same needs from one society to the next, but in different ways. For example, food and music vary from one culture to the next. And what I love most are the different dialects. Someone from Honduras may say the word “kid/cipote,” and people will know they are from Honduras – simply by the way they pronounce the word.
What is something you’d like to share with everyone to show how we're all connected?
We don’t need to travel far to see how we’re all connected. Every day, we have the chance to experience the traditions and enjoy distinct tastes of international foods. We are fortunate that we have international restaurants and colleagues who make their homemade recipes. Who doesn’t enjoy tacos, dumplings, sushi, gyros, churros and French baguette? I connect with people from all walks of life simply by enjoying the many food offerings of other countries, right in my hometown of Montreal.
What's the most surprising thing about your culture that others may not know?
The name Honduras translates to “great depths” in Spanish, named by Christopher Columbus after the deep waters along the coast. The most beautiful beaches of Honduras are known for their powdery sand, turquoise waters and the coral reefs of Roatan Island.
If you’re not on the beach, then you might recognize a Honduran if you see them dancing. The music of Honduras varies. Punta is the main "ritmo" of Honduras with other sounds such as Caribbean salsa, merengue, reggae, and reggaeton.