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In the running


The following are nomination results received from municipalities within the Beacon’s coverage area:

Leti LaRosa of Charlottetown is one of the finalists for the RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrants Award. The voting is open until May 13. An active volunteer, LaRosa was one of the founding members of the National Organization of Immigrants and Visible Minority Women’s Organization of Canada. She initiated the founding of the Filipino-Canadian Association of Prince Edward Island in 1990. She has also been a member of National Council of Canadian-Filipino Association.

Being nominated as one of the top immigrants in Canada is just one more accomplishment to add to a local Filipina woman’s resume.

Leti LaRosa, who immigrated to Prince Edward Island 35 years ago, was nominated recently by Sen. Percy Downe to run in a competition for one of the top 25 immigrants in Canada, sponsored by the Royal Bank of Canada.

LaRosa was nominated because of her outstanding volunteer work and her ability to bridge the cultural divide between Islanders and newcomers, said Downe.

“I thought she was a great candidate to be recognized and I would urge all Islanders to go online and vote for her.”

Downe first noticed LaRosa after attending several events where she volunteered her time. When Downe heard of the national competition, he thought an Islander should be nominated. After hearing from several immigrants about how helpful LaRosa was to their arrival, Downe decided she would be the perfect Island nominee.

“I’ve noticed her work on the Island and I’ve been very impressed by it,” said Downe.

LaRosa said she was very surprised to be nominated, but is grateful for the recognition of Island immigrants.

“You feel happy when you volunteer in the community, to give back to Canada what they have given to my family, I am so thankful.”

The competition had over 600 nominations. LaRosa was then selected by a committee to be in the top 75, and now a popular vote will help to determine the top 25 immigrants of Canada.

Voting for the competition can be done until May 13 at http://canadianimmigrant.ca/canadas-top-25-immigrants/vote/

LaRosa said she has had people as far as Florida show their support and would like to see Islanders do so as well.

“If you can help, we can continue our fight for recognition and we can continue what we can do for our own immigrants in this country, for the Islanders or the Canadians to understand our culture.”

LaRosa came to the Island 35 years ago, after her husband was transferred here through his work with Agriculture Canada.

After one year of work, he asked Leti if she would like to move to Prince Edward Island permanently.

“‘I think it’s time we get married, I found a place to raise a family. Would you like to stay?’” he asked her.

LaRosa said she enjoyed living in P.E.I. and accepted his offer right away.

“I came here at the time where you didn’t close the doors to your house, the community was open and everyone was friendly.”

But, times have changed since then, especially in the way immigrants are now accepted, said LaRosa.

“Things have changed a lot, the Islanders now understand the culture of immigrants, unlike before. They are very accepting, that is one thing I noticed changing.”

LaRosa was one of the founding members of the National Organization of Immigrants and initiated the founding of the Filipino-Canadian Association of Prince Edward Island in 1990.

Since LaRosa came to P.E.I. she has noticed an increase of Filipino families with roughly 300 individuals living on the Island.

Though LaRosa is a Filipina woman, she does not limit herself to who she can help.

“I don’t care if they are Filipinos or not, if they need my help, I’ll help them. Especially those who don’t speak the language, they have a difficult time integrating themselves into the community.”

Filipino families have less difficulty integrating into a community because the second language of the Philippines is English, but that doesn’t make everything come easier for them, said LaRosa.

“There are so many agents who are charging immigrants just to look for a job. Myself and other volunteers said ‘I can do that,’ so we connect them with employers.”

LaRosa has been retired for several years but still remains active in her communities because of the population increase.

She organized the first Filipino Sports Fest on the Island, titled Palarong Pinoy Ga Igla in Filipino.

The event is from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on May 18 at the Stratford Town Hall and is open to everyone to experience the culture.

The event will include Filipino meals, several games and feature basketball teams to showcase their national sport.

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