Monday, July 13, 2009

Town council proclaims Migrant Worker Appreciation Day

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July 03, 2009 11:08 AM

Town council proclaims Migrant Worker Appreciation Day
Jay Gutteridge
Every summer, hundreds of migrant workers come to the Bradford West Gwillimbury area from around the world to work on farms in the Holland Marsh.

Many of them do it to support their families, who they leave for months at a time for the seasonal work.

Last Sunday, a team of organizations thanked the workers for their efforts with Migrant Worker Appreciation Day at the Bradford and District Memorial Community Centre grounds.

"Simply put, our local economy needs them," Bradford West Gwillimbury Mayor Doug White said of the migrant workers.

The appreciation event is organized each year by the Even Better Foundation and Enlace Community Link, organizations dedicated to supporting Mexican and other Spanish-speaking migrant workers in Canada.

It included a soccer game, barbecue, ceramic art workshop, raffle and live music.

Eve Roa and the Even Better Foundation started the event about six years ago.

"When you buy local food, you should be aware of what goes on behind the scenes," she said, noting the migrant workers put in many hours of exhausting labour.

Even Better joined forces with Enlace for the event after that because the organizations share similar goals.

Enlace president Petra Kukacka noted migrant workers are a major part of the Bradford West Gwillimbury community, with some coming every summer for 30 years.

A variety of local businesses and organizations supported the appreciation day, including the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury.

"We work in several municipalities and partner with professionals, municipal leaders and officials in different capacities, but no political leader that we have ever been in touch with has ever taken as much of an interest in supporting migrant worker social inclusion as Mayor White has," Ms Kukacka said.

The soccer game featured migrant workers from Somerville Nurseries taking on the York Central Hospital team from Richmond Hill.

Ms Roa works at York Central and the team has been coming to the event since its first year.

The Somerville team won the game.

Mr. White and town council officially proclaimed the day Migrant Worker Appreciation Day in town.

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