LAUNCHING OF MIGRANTE B.C.
Vancouver, B.C.-- An estimated crowd of 70 people, which included guests,
well wishers and members of the Filipino community came together to
celebrate the successful launch of the MIGRANTE B.C. last September 14,
2008. MIGRANTE-B.C. is a new community-based organization of Filipinos in
British Columbia that asserts that Filipino migrants deserve the greatest
promotion and protection of their rights wherever they are.
At the Longhouse Church in the east side of Vancouver, the community was
welcomed by First Nations Elder Jim White and Longhouse Church Pastor
Barry Morris. Councillor Ted Stevenson (City of Vancouver) and Members of
the Legislative Assembly David Chudnovsky (Vancouver-Kensington), Shane
Simpson (Vancouver-Hastings) and Jenny Kwan (Vancouver-Mount Pleasant)
sent in their greetings of solidarity to the new organization.
Member of Parliament Libby Davies (East Vancouver) personally delivered
her sincere greetings and best wishes to the Migrante B.C.’s members and
supporters. “While the Migrante B.C. is new and small,” MP Davies said,
“you have a mighty spirit” and “your strength, discipline and political
consciousness and awareness are all good things” that help build a network
to take up the migrants’ cause. She pointed out that the collective
Filipino experience is important and encouraged the community to find its
political voice, more so in the upcoming federal elections, and engage in
political debate. Speaking of workers’ rights, she brought up the issues
of the temporary foreign workers who are very vulnerable to exploitation
and also of the long standing injustice of the live-in-caregiver program.
Of the latter, she said, “you come here and you find that you have left
one prison for another.” MP Davies declared that she and the New Democrats
will work to remove the restrictions on the live-in-caregiver program so
that “people can come here as permanent residents.” “You have our
support,” she said, “and we will continue to work on this issue.”
The Kilusang Mayo Uno (May First Movement Labour Centre), the biggest
trade union alliance in the Philippines, MIGRANTE International, and Ka
Osang Beltran, the widow of the late Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran also
forwarded their militant congratulations and commended MIGRANTE B.C. on
its “commitment to defend the rights of Filipino migrants and their
families as we all fight for a society that genuinely promotes the rights
and interests of the workers and people of the Philippines, wherever we
may be.” From Canada, messages came in from PINAY, the Filipino women’s
organization in Quebec, MIGRANTE-Ontario, the Victoria Philippines
Solidarity Group and the Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights.
Ms. Maita Santiago, the General Secretary of MIGRANTE International, the
international alliance of Filipino migrant organizations, delivered the
keynote address. She gave a brief situationner of the plight of Filipino
overseas workers now found in 197 countries and territories around the
world. Ms. Santiago lauded the historic launching of the MIGRANTE B.C. at
a time when grassroots migrants organizations have joined ranks under the
International Migrants Alliance (IMA), the first global network of its
kind in its Founding Assembly in Hong Kong earlier in June. Ms. Santiago
also shared the stories of those involved with Migrante International in
its work of assisting Filipino overseas workers and their families in the
Philippines. Maita, an immigrant to Canada herself, came with her newborn
son to the launch and said that her son, “like all our children, symbolize
the hope and aspirations of Filipino migrants for a better life.” A lively
question and answer period followed the keynote presentation.
Cultural numbers performed by the members showcased the artistic talents
within the MIGRANTE B.C. A short video presentation on the life of the
late Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran in the program was a poignant reminder of Ka
Bel’s last visit to Vancouver as part of the Philippine Solons Tour this
year. Those who supported Ka Bel, many of who are now founding members of
MIGRANTE -B.C., provided the accommodations, medical assistance and
community support for that tour.
Two banners of Migrante B.C. were proudly displayed, each banner a labour
of love from the migrants themselves. Bert Monterona, international
award-winning painter and visual art designer from Mindanao, made the blue
banner with the Migrante B.C. logo. The other banner was worked on by
Bootz Estella, a Migrante member from the Igorot tribe in the Cordillera.
Jane Ordinario and Florchita Bautista, emcees of the program, declared
that MIGRANTE B.C. is a fitting memorial to the legacy of the late Crispin
Beltran who defended the national and democratic rights of workers,
including that of the Filipino migrant workers.
For reference: Migrante-B.C.
109-4155 Central Blvd.
Burnaby, British Columbia
Canada V5H 4X2
Solidarity message of KMU
Message of Councilor Tim Stevenson
Various solidarity messages