Currently a city councillor in Cambridge, Ontario, the Santa Maria native Frank Monteiro has been re-elected to a third term.
Born in one of the most cosmopolitan of the Azores islands, Frank arrived in Canada at the age of 14 and has a long record of training in citizen participation. When he was young, he was in the Mocidade Portuguesa, “an institution that was important” to him, “although at the time I was not aware of the significance of being involved in the organisation”, Monteiro also inherited a more contemporary vision of the world thanks to his experiences in Santa Maria as a youth.
From police officer to politician, Monteiro traces his public side, in part, to his godfather, Germano Puim. “He was the ‘sugar bowl’ policeman, keeping an on who entered and left the airport. As to the use of a uniform, he planted in me the seed that I unconsciously nurtured.”
In Canada, in contrast to many immigrants, Frank was encouraged by his parents to continue his studies and at the age of 24 he joined the police force in Cambridge.
Now 67, he was the first Azorean to join Ontario’s police force. The dearth of Portuguese in the profession that he exercised for 30 years is due in part, he believes, “to the fact that the image [they have] of the police is very much linked to the dictatorship.”
Although there is now a larger contingent of Portuguese officers, “their number is not yet representative of the community”, he says with regret.
When he retired in 2010, Monteiro involved himself in municipal politics. This participation at the municipal level (now serving his third term) comes with a new challenge: incentivising the political participation of the new generations of Portuguese-Canadians.
Original text and photos by Humberta Araújo/ English version by Alison Roberts