In the context of Hispanic Day, celebrated at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, NB, on March 17, 2011, the St. Thomas University community paid tribute to Nela Rio, local poet, artist, academic, and founder of the Canadian Association of Hispanists Creative Registry of Artists.
Nela Rio was the founder of the Hispanic Day at St. Thomas University in the eighties, when she was a professor there (she has been retired for a few years).
The Tribute was attended by the Acting Dean of the Faculty of Arts at St. Thomas, the famous composer Martin Kutnowski (of Argentine origin, like Rio), members of the Faculty of Arts, of the STU Department of Romance Languages, guests and participants from the University of New Brunswick, the general public, and the numerous students attending the daylong event.
Five students from Professor Haydée Sainz’ class paid tribute to Nela Rio in a very moving way. The students gave a brief introduction to her life, works, and her contribution to the larger Fredericton Community, in Spanish and English. They also commented on the importance of the work that Rio has done towards the promotion of culture in the area.
Student Amanda Lloyd gave the following testimonial: “it is very interesting to me that St. Thomas had a woman teaching here who is so important and has accomplished so much in her life. To see someone successful like Nela Rio is so exciting for the students here because she has inspired us to work toward a big and special future. Nela helped us to remember that all of our lives have potential for success.”
Perhaps because of the poet’s presence, the students read Nela Rio’s poetry with much emotion, especially her beautiful poem entitled “The Rose.” Invited to the state to join the students on stage, Nela Rio gave each of them a hug upon receiving a bouquet of multicoloured roses. She thanked the students for their tribute and commented that she was happy to see that Hispanic Day was alive at St. Thomas. The Canadian Association of Hispanists will also be paying tribute to Nela Rio during their annual meeting at Congress in Fredericton, May 28-30, 2011.
Sophie Lavoie is a member of the NB Media Co-op.