Collaboration with Vhils in mural honoring Cleaners’ Action

The internationally renowned street artist Vhils (Alexandre Farto) has created a mural in the Toronto neighbourhood of Little Portugal – on 1628 Dundas St. West (just west of Brock Ave.) – honouring the Portuguese “cleaning ladies” and their Cleaners’ Action movement in the 1970s-80s. The Embassy of Portugal in Canada, the Little Portugal BIA, and Deputy Mayor Ana Bailão were the organizers of this initiative. In July, I was consulted by one of the organizers seeking suggestions about significant women in the history of Toronto’s Portuguese community to be featured in the mural, to which I suggested the “cleaning ladies” and their Cleaners’ Action. After my suggestion was approved, I had the honour of collaborating with Vhils’ team, Anabela Taborda (Little Portugal BIA), and Dr. Susana Miranda (Portuguese Canadian History Project) in the making of this project, by contributing archival materials, historical insights by way of a recorded interview, and connecting stakeholders. The unveiling took place on October 19 and was attended by a sizable audience of local community members, political representatives, and labour leaders. A short video documentary about the making of the mural is soon to follow.

To learn more about the history of Cleaners’ Action, follow the links below:

Dr. Susana Miranda, “Keeping the City Clean: Portuguese Women in Toronto’s Cleaning Industry, 1970-1990” podcast, Active History, October 21 2010:…/history-matters-podcast…/

Dr. Franca Iacovetta interviews Marcie Ponte and Sidney Pratt, “Portuguese Workers/Birth of Cleaners’ Action 1975,” Rise Up! A Digital Archive of Feminist Action:…/portuguese-workers…/

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