Our Community Stories — House of Vaz

Tanzanite Toronto
May 8, 2019 · 4 min read

Tanzania, located on the east coast of Africa is a safari mecca for many tourists and a haven for many Goan’s because of its rich culture, beaches, food and many other beautiful attractions due to its warm balmy tropical climate. However, many people had to leave that beautiful land, for the betterment of their families. One family in particular is the Vaz family.

Victor, Joanna and Hilary Vaz
Angela, Mama-Joanna, Leena, Larry, Johnny & Leslie Vaz Children missing in photo: Hilary, Lily, Anthony, Regina & Aloysius

The Vaz dynasty consists of: Victor Vaz, along with his children Hilary Vaz, Lily Pezamanos (nee. Vaz), Leslie Vaz, Larry Vaz, Leena Pinto (nee. Vaz), Angela Pereira (nee. Vaz), Anthony Vaz, and Regina Dias (nee. Vaz). They lived for many years in Tanzania before most of them made the decision to migrate to Canada. As great-grand-daughter of the Vaz clan, I would like to shed light on a why my family left Tanzania, which at that point in time was a common reason shared by most families who emigrated from Tanzania to Canada.

In the year 1967 Aloysius Vaz, his wife Zerina, and their children were the first pioneers to arrive in Canada.

Aloysius, (who many know as one of the founding members of the “Goan Overseas Association” in Canada), received a letter from Canada which invited technicians to work for the Canadian National Railway. Although he had a great position with the East African Railways as an Electrician, he decided to look for better opportunities in Canada, including a better education for his children, which was the reason why the other Vaz siblings also decided to move here. With Aloysius’ technical skills, his family was easily accepted into Canada in 1969.

Aloysius then sponsored his brother Larry Vaz and his family who came here in 1972.

Larry, who was a distinguished and well respected Engineer in the East African Railways moved to Canada and was enthusiastically accepted by the Canadian National Railways.

In 1974, Aloysius sponsored his eldest brother Hilary Vaz, sister-in-law Louisa, and their son.

Hilary Vaz, who grew up with many Tanzanian-Goan’s at St. Stanislaus School in Bombay, India, was well-known as for his sportsman skills, excelling in field hockey and cricket. Hilary worked as a Customs Officer, while his wife Louisa was a principal at St. Francis Xavier School in Dar-es-salam.

Their sister Angela, with her husband Auggie Pereira and children came to Canada in 1976, after being sponsored by Angela’s older brother Larry.

Angela and Auggie’s family were very involved in the Tanzanite association, including participating in Field Hockey and Goan / African concerts. Auggie was both Vice-President and then in the year 1998 he became President of the Tanzanite committee.

In those days it was very hard for new immigrants to get jobs, as credentials were not accepted here and Canadian experience was a requirement, so many people were forced to take jobs that were not in their field. Our parents’ determination and love for their families is what kept them going each day. Although they left Tanzania, they continued to instill in their kids the values, and roots of their homeland, whether it was cooking Goan dishes like pulao and sorpotel, eating mandazis with tea, singing Kiswahili songs, playing field hockey, or meeting with old friends at the picnics and dances. Not once did they let us forget our heritage, and for that we are all grateful.

Although Hilary, Larry and Angela have passed away; their legacy and teachings live on in many of the young Vaz generations, who were inspired by their parents/grandparents. The Vaz children themselves decided to become involved in the Tanzanite association by participating in the committees or performing at the events; Carol Pereira D’Souza (Angela’s daughter) was President of the Tanzanite committee in 2001. Ryan De Souza (Angela’s grandson) was on the 2017–2018 Tanzanite committee, and myself (Hilary’s granddaughter) performed at the events, and was on the 2017–2018 and am currently on this years committee.

In conclusion we are all proud of our East African Heritage and certainly appreciate our parents and/or grandparents’ decision to move to Canada roughly 40–50 years ago; all in hopes for a bigger and brighter future for their children!

- Megan Vaz

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