SEAS opens at Regent Park, elects Filipina to board of directors

Community News & Features Sep 28, 2018 at 3:50 pm
SEAS directors, staff and special guests at the Regent Park centre grand opening.

SEAS directors, staff and special guests at the Regent Park centre grand opening. (Photos provided)

TORONTO–On Friday, September 14, 2018, SEAS Centre officially opened the doors to its Regent Park branch on the ground floor of 50 Regent Park Blvd., one of the new Toronto Community Housing buildings in the neighbourhood.  SEAS stands for Support, Enhance, Access, Service Centre – a non-profit social service agency serving immigrant communities, with a focus on Chinese, Vietnamese, Filipino and, most recently, Syrian communities. The Regent Park Centre replaces two former locations on Gerrard St. East and Parliament St., where many activities of SEAS Centre’s Filipino program were conducted.

Sarah Salise introduces herself to the attendees of the SEAS Annual General Meeting as she is nominated for the board position.

Sarah Salise introduces herself to the attendees of the SEAS Annual General Meeting as she is nominated for the board position.

The SEAS Regent Park Centre grand opening was well-attended, with staff, directors and community members present. Special guests who delivered congratulatory messages were City Councillor Lucy Troisi (Toronto Centre) and MP Shawn Chen (Scarborough North). Also present were representatives from the offices of MPP Peter Tabuns (Toronto Danforth) and MPP Suze Morrison (Toronto Centre). Attendees were given a tour of the centre, and were served food which included lechon.

The grand opening was part of an afternoon-to-evening-long series of agency-wide activities. Prior to the ceremony, SEAS held its annual general meeting, during which, Filipina youth worker and community organizer, Sarah Salise, was elected into the board of directors for a one-year term. Salise has personal and work experience which allows her to bring valuable input into SEAS Centre’s programming.  She is a first-generation immigrant who came to Canada as a teenager and experienced first-hand the settlement challenges many immigrant families share. During her undergraduate studies at McMaster University, she conducted research about Filipino migrant workers and became involved in community advocacy. She is currently the coordinator of the Kamalayan Youth Midya Project, a media skills-training program, and has worked as both volunteer and temporary staff at SEAS.  She is currently the only Filipino on the board of directors.

The SEAS Regent Park Centre grand opening was followed by a community festival, consisting of cultural performances and arts-and-crafts activities.  Performances included both traditional and contemporary Chinese dance and musical numbers.  Pintados Martial Arts Academy represented Filipino culture with an arnis-kali-eskrima demonstration.

20180914_175120SEAS Centre was first established in 1986, under the auspices of the Metro Toronto Housing Authority and Public Health Department of the City of Toronto, offering settlement services, ESL classes and cultural celebrations to Southeast Asian communities settling in the Regent Park Area.  Since then, it has grown into a multi-social-service agency focusing on family and immigrant services, delivered through four branches in the Greater Toronto Area.

SEAS Centre’s Filipino program began in 2000, delivering know-your-rights workshops for live-in caregivers on topics related to immigration and employment, and hosting a youth drop-in with tutoring and skills-training.  The Filipino program was delivered through a satellite office in Rose Avenue Community Centre in St. James Town until 2003, after which it started operating out of SEAS Gerrard Centre. In 2015, SEAS started conducting outreach and information sessions in the Bathurst-and-Wilson area of North York.  With help of partner community organizations, it has expanded its activities to include skills-training (food handling, advocacy, writing, theatre) workshops for caregivers; health promotion (TB-awareness, hepatitisC-awareness); Philippine history and culture workshops for youth; and participating in community celebrations and special occasions (Philippine Independence Day, International Women’s Day, Labour Day).

For more information about SEAS Centre, visit For information and updates about the SEAS Filipino program, visit or contact