Our History

The Name

“Sombrilla” is the Spanish word for “umbrella,” which symbolizes the partnerships between organized communities from Canada and Latin America that assist in sheltering vulnerable populations from oppression while promoting community participation.


Sombrilla International Development Society is an Alberta-based, independent Non-Governmental Organization (NGO). It is non-denominational and non-partisan. It was founded in 1985 as a registered charity by a group of Canadian journalists and professors disturbed by the gross human rights violations in Central America. The society was subsequently joined by people from a variety of other occupational and professional groups. In the first years as an organization, Sombrilla’s primary focus was to provide settlement sponsorship for Guatemalan refugees whose efforts in the struggle for social justice made them targets of repression.

Since the mid 1990s, Sombrilla has shifted its focus onto the conditions that create refugees. As a result, we strive to facilitate respect for human rights, social justice, sustainable development, and gender equity in solidarity with Latin American communities.