Migrante BC: 2019 COV Award Winner for Excellence

Community News & Features Aug 23, 2019 at 2:38 pm
Photo:Taken by official photographer Sarah Race

Photo:Taken by official photographer Sarah Race

It was a memorable Friday night inside the big hall at the Roundhouse Community Centre. Ten citizens and eight organizations were honoured last July 12 at the Annual Awards of Excellence ceremony by the City Mayor and the Vancouver City Council. The 2019 Award recipients were selected by the Vancouver City Council from over 50 nominee submissions.

The five Awards were for the categories of Accessible City, Civic Volunteer, Greenest City Leadership and Healthy City for All, and the Mayor’s Achievement Award. The winners came “from organizations making a difference in communities, tireless social leaders, and community groups building capacity, and enterprising youth and children.”

The City of Vancouver awarded the 2019 City’s Award for Excellence for Diversity and Inclusion to Migrante BC, the grassroots organization helping to protect and promote the rights and welfare of Filipino migrants and immigrants. Erie Maestro, Christopher Sorio and Bert Monterona received the trophy on behalf of Migrante BC from the City Mayor Stewart Kennedy and Councillor Melissa de Genova. The 2019 Award for the category of Diversity and Inclusion “celebrates the leadership of those who support inclusion, and advocate for communities to be free of racism and discrimination.”

Sandra Singh, General Manager of Arts, Culture and Community Services introduced Migrante BC to the audience thus: “Migrante BC was formed in 2009 as a grassroots organization to protect and promote the rights and welfare of Filipino migrants, immigrants, and refugees. It’s developed further as a source of information, community organizer, cultural promoter, and advocate for ensuring that Vancouver is a safe and equitable place for all residents.

The organization provides a temporary shelter, peer counselling, and paralegal services for temporary foreign workers, students, and others who need a short-term safe space to stay. They organize community activities, workshops, and conferences, and have been integral with allied organizations in several high-profile human rights and migrant worker legal cases as well.

In addition to many of the supports Migrante BC offers, they have participated in academic research, been active in politics, and worked closely with other organizations to build Vancouver’s civic capacity within the immigrant community.

They’ve also developed “arts as therapy” programs and opportunities for the Filipino-Canadian community in Vancouver utilizing dance, visual arts, and other mediums to provide outlets for creative expression, cultural expansion, and socialization. Migrante BC has improved the quality of life for Vancouver residents through their sustained grassroots efforts addressing access to migrant rights, citizenship rights, social services, and their genuine desire to help make Vancouver better for everyone.”

Migrante BC shared the Diversity and Inclusion awards with Individual Award Winner Michele Nahanee, an indigenous changemaker from Sḵwx̱wú7mesh community Eslha7a, and with the individual Youth Award Winner Robyn Holmes, a Social Sciences student at Langara College. More information on the other awardees is available on the City of Vancouver website at https://vancouver.ca/your-government/awards-of-excellence.aspx

Long-time Migrante BC members were pleasantly surprised to learn of its nomination and selection as Award winner. Chrisopher Sorio, Vice Chair of Migrante BC said, “As a volunteer grassroots organization powered by the commitment and enthusiasm of its volunteer members, allies and partners, Migrante BC accepts the Award with pride and see this as a strong public acknowledgment of the organizing and advocacy work of Migrante BC. Migrant voices matter!”

Tess de Chavez, a Migrante BC board member, smiling and standing tall, said, “I feel so proud to be here as Migrante BC, and along with all these wonderful people who make a big difference in the lives of people in the City of Vancouver. Congratulations to all of us!”