Asian Heritage Month

By: The Hon. Wanda Thomas Bernard

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Lebreton Flats and Canadian geese, Ottawa

Hon. Wanda Elaine Thomas Bernard: Honourable senators, I rise today, during Asian Heritage Month, to recognize the important work of the Filipino-Canadian Social and Community Worker Network.

This year has brought an influx of anti-Asian discrimination and an increased awareness of the racism and violence faced by Asian Canadians. It is important that we work together to address anti-Asian racism. I also want to bring attention to positive things that are happening in Asian-Canadian communities by acknowledging a grassroots organization that is supporting their community through this difficult time.

I have had the pleasure of meeting the executive members of the Filipino-Canadian Social and Community Worker Network: Monica Batac, Dr. Ilyan Ferrer, Veronica Javier and Dr. Fritz Pino. These change leaders have mobilized Filipino, Filipina and Filipinx social workers across Canada by hosting events and through their Facebook group. This group is a hub for connections, mentorship and resource sharing. They bring attention to issues faced by Filipino people in Canada, including issues related to racism and colonialism, immigration, labour, solidarity with Black and Indigenous communities and assessing COVID-related community needs.

The network fills a need for Filipino scholarship and representation in social work and community activism as social workers, community workers, social work educators or academics. As a founder of the Association of Black Social Workers established 42 years ago, I am familiar with the courage and persistence needed to spearhead such an initiative off the side of your desk. I hope that 42 years from now, the network can look back on these early years as a pivotal point for Filipino social workers and community workers in Canada.

Honourable colleagues, in honour of Asian Heritage Month, please join me in recognizing and supporting the important work of the Filipino-Canadian Social and Community Worker Network. Thank you.

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