This “Scratching the Surface” mural, celebrating the Portuguese ladies of the “Cleaners Action movement” of the 1970’s and 1980’s, is the work of esteemed international artist Alexandre Farto, AKA VHILS. The mural captures the Portuguese spirit, culture and deep appreciation of art.
Honoured dignitaries Consul General of Portugal, Jose Manuel Carneiro Mendes, Mrs. Rita Sousa Tavares Cultural Attaché to the Portuguese Embassy in Ottawa, Julie Dzerowicz, our Member of Parliament for Davenport, Member of Provincial Parliament for Davenport, Marit Stiles, Deputy Mayor and City Councillor for Ward 9 Davenport Ana Bailão, Ms. Andria Babbington, President of the Toronto & York Region Labour Council, and our own BIA Chair, AnaBela Taborda were on hand to bring greetings. Also on hand were Professors Gilberto Fernandes and Susana Miranda for their historical invaluable insights and guidance during the project, and Ms. Marcie Ponte for helping us to understand the movement and for donating the plaque you can see at the entrance of the mural.
Everyone was thrilled to be introduced to VHILS’ inspiration for his mural, Mrs. Idalina Azevedo (pictured at the ribbon cutting, below), a proud Portuguese woman involved in the Cleaners’ Action movement, associated with St. Christopher House, and a leader in a “wildcat” strike at the TD Towers in 1974, which brought about employment changes for the cleaners. For non-English speaking immigrant cleaning women, this was a major achievement and important event in Toronto’s labor history.
The BIA is extremely proud, thankful and touched by the members of our community and those abroad who came to our aid to make this art piece possible:
João Mendonça Cruz, Ionut Clipacs (Russo), Ricardo Piedade, Luis Soares, Luis Lobato, Ricardo Toga, (Vihls’ crew) building owners Victor and Marina Tavares, Carlos Canejo of Independent Build & Design, Jack Oliveira, Cesar Rodrigues, Armindo Correia, Benito Tavares, Shaun Bowring, Arlindo Beca, Danny Lopes, Fausto Gaudio, José Nieves, Pastor Rui Nunes, The owners of Swan Dive