Last month, in my role as Deputy Speaker, I had the honour and pleasure of hosting Her Excellency Petronila Garcia, the Philippine Ambassador to Canada, as well as Consul General Neil Ferrer and his consular outreach team.

We spoke on various topics, but primarily we discussed the Filipino community in the Northwest Territories, and particularly in Hay River. I was proud to be able to inform Her Excellency of the countless positive contributions made by the Filipino community in Hay River, and I believe she took pride in hearing about how strong and well respected the community is.

Left to Right: R.J. Simpson, Her Excellency Petronila P. Garcia, Consul General Neir Ferrer

So, Mr. Speaker, I’d like to take this opportunity to officially thank and recognize the 200 plus members of Hay River’s Filipino community for all they do.

They are a driving force in fundraising in Hay River. They are always happy to help prepare a Filipino dinner for any organization that needs to raise money. This not only involves preparing and serving food, but also dressing in traditional clothing and preforming traditional dances and music. In fact, tomorrow there is a Filipino dinner to help raise money for the CIBC Run for our Lives, and I encourage anyone who wants a good meal and good company to attend. In 2014, Hay River’s Filipino community raised $13,000 that was donated to the Red Cross to support relief efforts in the Philippines after a destructive typhoon season.

They are also very active volunteers, and can be found donating their time at most every event in town. Most of the Filipino women in Hay River are members of the Women’s Catholic League where, among other things, they volunteer to prepare and serve food for funerals and other community events. They also donate much of their time to the Soup Kitchen, and to feeding individuals in need.

These are a few examples of the generosity of Hay River’s Filipino community. In addition to freely donating their time, they are also contribute to our community through their positions as nurses, care givers, financial professionals, journeymen, and more. I use the term “Filipino community” but I don’t mean that they are separate from the community of Hay River as a whole. They are an integral part of the fabric of Hay River.

Her Excellency, the Ambassador, was surprised that so many Filipinos had set down roots in Hay River. She noted that it was common practice for Filipinos to move to an area and work for a few years and leave. Mr. Speaker, Hay River has been lucky enough to break that trend, and we’re a better community for it.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.