More than 25 caregivers, Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs), and immigrants gathered in-person and online for the first installment of PINAY Quebec’s seminar series, “Empowerment sa Montreal: Nurturing Caregiver Unity and Strength”.
The August 19th session was facilitated by PINAY Quebec’s BAYANIHAN team including BAYANIHAN Project Coordinator, Cheney Cortes; Community Engagement Coordinator, Joshua Corpus; and Community Outreach Coordinator, Jela Dela Peña. The initial seminar’s primary objective was to educate and empower Filipino caregivers and TFWs about their rights regardless of their immigration status. They focused on recognizing signs of human and labour trafficking, among other serious issues such as minimum wage, overtime regulations, and breaks.
Apart from an exchange of knowledge and information, the seminar created an interactive platform for attendees to share their experiences from the light-hearted to the thought-provoking.
First, Corpus opened the space for people to share their Montreal adventures. From sampling maple syrups, indulging in poutine and matzah ball soup, to exploring iconic landmarks like Notre-Dame Basilica and Old Port, everyone shared fun anecdotes about their new lives in Montreal. These moments were accompanied by a longing for these caregivers and TFWs’ families, partners, children, and the close-knit communities they’d left behind in the Philippines.
Dela Peña, invited a thoughtful dialogue among the participants to describe a hard day at work, and what attendees would tell their families back home. “A long, hard day at work is exhausting and stressful at times,” one participant said.
A few caregivers remarked on having to work 10-12 hour days, often starting around 7:00 am.
“Honestly working in Canada is tiring. You just keep on working for bills,” adds another participant.
The seminar wrapped up with Project Coordinator, Cortes, outlining processes to Permanent Residency (PR) including the option to seek an Open Work Permit for Vulnerable Workers if a worker finds themselves in a precarious, unsafe situation. Cortes then reminded attendees about the importance of strength in numbers.
Looking ahead, the BAYANIHAN Team will start a committee to build a peer-to-peer support group. This network will be instrumental in providing community members with the skills to support themselves and their fellow peers.
In the true spirit of “Bayanihan”, a Filipino term encompassing the value of “community spirit” and “coming together to help each other”, PINAY aspires to continue this spirit in the next seminar sessions. The work of PINAY Quebec could not be possible without the support, input, and participation of caregivers, Temporary Foreign Workers, and other migrant workers.
This project was made possible thanks to funding from Women and Gender Equality Canada’s Gender-Based Violence Program.
For more information about the BAYANIHAN Peer-to-Peer Support Project, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.