“Half of my heritage is Azorean Portuguese, a fact which I paid little attention to at a young age. Growing up in a predominantly white neighbourhood in Victoria, British Columbia, I took this for granted aside from enjoying the tasty cuisines my mother would cook up such as sweet bread, octopus stew, and chouriço, and hearing her communicate over the phone with my grandmother in a unfamiliar language. The genealogy records of my grandfather Jose Cordeiro Miranda’s side can be traced to among the early settlers to the Azores, in the 1500s, and prior to the Algarve and Madeira Island. Over 50 years ago, my grandfather left from the island of São Miguel on the second boat filled with young men eager to find work and start a new life in Canada. He had to leave behind his wife and their child (my mother of 9 months) in order to first secure a job and house before bringing them along. He initially encountered difficulties with his first farming job in Quebec, but after a year he was able to relocate find employment at an aluminium manufacturing company in the northern British Columbia (Canada) town of Kitimat. My mother and grandmother joined him three years later. They experienced quite a shock with the cold snowy winter, but were quick to adjust and enjoy the modern conveniences.” Kara Miranda Lawrence (http://ww1.rtp.pt/icmblogs/rtp/comunidades/?k=Oriana-KARA-MIRANDA-LAWRENCE.rtp&post=13024)
Minha Mãe – Maria de Lourdes Tavares Miranda Lawrence By Kara Miranda Lawrence
Growing up in a house filled with paintings, my sister and I were influenced, and inspired to pursue our artistic sides. The walls of our family home are generously filled with my mother Maria’s paintings, as well as her clay sculptures and a multitude of books and prints in a fully equipped art studio. She also instilled in us a curiosity about our Portuguese heritage from her side of the family, and often shared stories about her immigration experience from the Azores at a young age, and memories of the islands.
Maria de Lourdes Tavares Miranda was born in S.Miguel, Azores in the village Ajuda, Bretanha. In 1954, at 9 months of age, my grandfather, Jose Cordeiro Miranda immigrated to Canada. Three years later my grandmother and Maria were able to join her father in the North Western Pacific coastal town of Kitimat, BC. This was a small isolated town in the North and the weather and separation from all they knew and family they missed were a challenge. However, they appreciated the quality of life that Canada offered, and soon the family felt settled in, feeling at home with the arrival of Maria’s three younger sisters. While living in this quiet community she developed an interest in drawing and began painting from an early age. By the time she graduated from High School, she was awarded scholarships for her art and went off to study at the Kootenay School of Art in Nelson, B.C
The story of our family begins with artistic origins – my parents met at the art school where they were studying and obtained fine arts diplomas. After relocating to Vancouver Island, my older sister and I were born, and Maria began working from her home studio. She painted commissioned portraits in pastel which were exhibited in various venues. While I was in elementary school, she began offering art instruction to students of all ages in her studio. Although my sister and I never took formal lessons from her, we learned through the exposure and practice and enjoyed having access to all the studio’s quality art supplies. Maria also encouraged us to pursue other interests, in my case music, dance, and theatre.
Her artistic career further developed as she became an executive board member of the Island Illustrators Society for eight years, and president for three years. Other professional memberships she has maintained includes the Canadian Federation of Artists, the Canadian Institute of Portrait Art, the Vancouver Island Arts and Cultural Accord, the Vancouver Island Sculptures Guild and the Greater Victoria Arts Community. Additionally, Maria has collaborated with other artists in fundraising for charities and in various local artistic events. Within the Portuguese community, Maria displayed her works in many social events and was asked by the directors to produce a large (9’x28″) canvas backdrop -for their stage- for presentations such as Portuguese folkloric dance shows. This was a panoramic scene of the village in S. Miguel where she was born.
Maria produced several more Portuguese themed paintings, was interviewed in the Lusitania, a Canadian Portuguese monthly magazine run by Terry Costa, and included in the database he created called LusoArtists.com. Through this, she was discovered by the Azorean Government, Comunidades, who were setting up initiatives to promote Azorean talent. In 2005 she was sent with a group of other talented artists, musicians and writers to her home island of S.Miguel to participate in the project “Construir Cultura”. This event produced a hard cover book publication including a musical CD which showcased all the participants along with Maria’s profile and painting she contributed to the project entitled “Um barco na linha dos teus olhos”.