By Alex P. Vidal
VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Impressed by the achievement of Surrey-Fleetwood MLA Jagrup Brar, who spent the whole month of January living on the welfare rate of $610, a prominent civic leader in the Filipino community will present a scrapbook to the legislator on February 9 in Brar’s office in Surrey.
“MLA Brar deserves the support of our community because he has been very supportive of the Filipino-Canadian community in the past two years now,” disclosed Narima Dela Cruz, president and founding director of Surrey Philippine Independence Day Society (SPIDS).
Dela Cruz describes Brar as “family man” saying she wants to surprise him with a “little token” for being an inspiration to his Filipino-Canadian constituents.
“It’s about time we pay tribute to his exemplary deeds, to his dedication to his job, and to his concern for the welfare of our community,” suggested Dela Cruz, herself an active supporter of community-based events and projects, and who recently launched a campaign fund for victims of typhoons in the Philippines.
A successful realtor, Dela Cruz, a Tagalog interpreter for OPTIONS Community Service, organized SPIDS with aim “to contribute in the celebration of the diversity of Canadian culture by celebrating our people, heritage and tradition and be able to share with fellow Canadians the beauty and warmth of Filipino culture.”
SPIDS turned over $6,458.75 to the Canadian Red Cross as donation for victims of typhoon in Mindanao, Philippines on January 16. It represented 100% of the proceeds of the organization’s fund-raising that romped off on December 20, 2011.
Dela Cruz’s non-profit organization is a group of mostly Filipino-Canadians who are residents of Surrey and nearby cities. The Society is duly registered and incorporated and welcomes those who want to join the “pro active” group, even those of non-Filipino descent.
Brar said goodbye to poverty and the Downtown Eastside where he leaved in January January 31.
Dela Cruz said she has been following Brar’s story and was aware that his supporters from the low income community have been urging him to fight in his caucus and in the legislature to get higher welfare rates, more affordable housing, and changes to welfare rules that clawback earnings and child support.
Well-wishers reportedly praised Brar for busting welfare myths like welfare is easy to get and people don’t want to work.
Dela Cruz said it was the daughter of a former MLA, Emery Barnes, who issued the challenge to some 50 MLAs to duplicate her dad’s trick of living on the welfare rate more than 20 years ago.
The daughter was Constance Barnes who lauded her father’s journey and echoed the dad’s advocacy that welfare should go up to $1,300 in today’s money.
“I pass the torch of his struggle to you; to work for an end to poverty so that BC is a place we can be proud of,” the daughter admonished her father’s predecessors.
Dela Cruz, whose husband Joel is civil engineer who specializes in civil, structural and architectural drafting, exhorted the community to learn from Brar’s humility and self-sacrifice.
“We can learn a lot from MLA Brar and the way he is showing his brand of leadership to all communities in the British Columbia,” Dela Cruz concluded.