2008 COPA Recipients

Brian Melo (Nelly Furtado Força Award)

Brian Melo’s debut album LIVIN’ IT is a logical progression in his lifelong dream to become a songwriter and performer. From cozy family campfire sing-a-longs to his brothers’ Portuguese wedding band, high school choirs and performing with his own band Stoked, Brian has been on track to fulfill that dream. Winning Canadian Idol 2007 shifted his journey into high gear.
Brian drew from a young lifetime of experiences to develop all the skills required to be a top notch artist and performer. Brian’s first generation Portuguese upbringing immersed him in song and dance from a young age. His brothers played in a Portuguese wedding/rock band and would coax a very young Brian onstage to play tambourine. Later on when Brian’s friends were out getting into trouble, Brian and his best friend (to this day) would get on the phone or sit around and write stacks of cheesy lyrics, melodies and hooks (Brian didn’t pick up an instrument until a few years ago).
Brian picked up a guitar and learned to play. He started songwriting again, hardcore. He took everything more seriously. After high school finished, Brian took over as lead vocalist for Hamilton-based band Stoked. Stoked taught Brian the ropes. It was with this band that he learned stage movement (a skill which definitely gave him an advantage on the Canadian Idol stage). He continued to write songs and his vocal stamina steadily improved. Stoked was firing on all cylinders and was in fact in the recording studio putting together their debut CD when Brian let them know he passed the audition for Canadian Idol 2007. Stoked was put on hiatus as Brian first made it to the Top 22, then Top 10, Top 5 and then he won the whole damn thing. 2.75 million fans watched as Brian Melo was crowned the 2007 champion.
After Brian put his Canadian Idol win in perspective he was humbled to recall… “6 months ago I was just a regular guy and no one knew my name. Now all of Canada knows my name! I am still a regular guy, just one who is signed to a major label. I’m living my dream.”

Irene F. Blayer (Education/Academia)

Born in Velas, Sao Jorge, Acores, Prof. Irene Blayer moved to Canada in 1977. After completing her B.A in Romance Languages, at Brock University, she completed an M.A. in Ibero-American Literatures and her Ph.D in Romance Linguistics in 1992 at the University of Toronto. Prof. Blayer is Canada's only female, Luso-Canadian Full Professor (Catedratic), as well as the first Luso-Canadian woman to be elected to the Senate of a Canadian University (Brock U.) A prolific writer, and consummate intellect, she has published over 23 books, international academic journals articles and refereed book chapters, in the past 10 years, most of these in subjects dealing with the Portuguese language.

Anthony De Sa (Arts)

Anthony de Sa grew up in Toronto's Portuguese community. his short fiction has been published in several North American literary magazines. Barnacle Love is Anthony's first book. His novel, Carnival of Desire is slotted for a 2011 release. Mr De Sa graduated from University of Toronto and did his post-graduate work at Queens University. He now heads the English Department and directs the creative writing program at a high school for the arts, FJR Writes!. He is currently working with the Humber School for Writers to develop a writing workshop for young adults, Stringing Words.

Isaura Carneiro (Leadership)

Isaura Carneiro was born in the town of Ribeira Quente, Sao Miguel, Acores. She immigrated to Canada in 1970 and worked as a seamstress. In 1978 she was permanently confined to a wheelchair due to complications during surgery to connect her scoliosis. Nevertheless she took various correspondence courses as well as a computer class at Seneca College and resolved to participate in community affairs in acoluntary fashion. In 1987, along with 11 other disabled persons, Ms. Varneiro formed the Society of Portuguese Disabled Persons of Ontario and assumed the role of President in 1990. In 1994 she authored a short story titles "Where there is a will there is a way", published by St. Christopher's house in conjunction with their literacy program.

Eduardo Bettencourt Pinto (Arts)

Award winning writer Eduardo Bettencourt Pinto has written and published several books of poetry and fiction in Portugal and Macao. The Angolan born writer born writer has lived in Angola, Portugal, Zimbabwe and now lives in British Columbia. He also organized an Anthology of Azorean posts Os Nove Rumours do Mar, and translated poems of J. Michael Yates. Currently, he is the editor of Seixo Review, a Literary and Arts magazine on the Internet. His poetry is represented in several anthologies in Portugal, United States, Canada, brazil and England. His latest poetry book, Travelling With Shadows, a bilingual volume (Portuguese and English) was released in Canada in 2008, published by the Canadian Publisher Libros Liberated.

Jose Carlos Rodrigues (Vision)

Born in Sao Tiago de Cendufe, Arcos de Valdevez, Portugal. Jose Carlos Rogrigues immigrated to Canada in 1979 and lived in Kitchener Waterloo. He returned to Portugal in 1981 and after serving his mandatory military service, returned to Canada in 1987, settling in Gastineau. Here he taught Portuguese at the School of Luis de Camoes for 5 years. He is a founding member of the Portuguese-Canadian National Congress and served as the Regional Director for Eastern Ontario until 1998. He was elected counsellor to the Portuguese Government in the council of communities, CCP, in 1997 but was forced to resign his position due to a major automobile accident in 1998. He has written five novels and had two published: his latest in 1997 which emphasizes mentoring by brining to the public consciousness the gather of solar science, Padre Manuel Gomes Himalaya, a Portuguese, in a compelling bioghical fictional novel.

© Copyright (c) Portuguese Canadian National Congress