Jul 20, 2024

CDWCR members attend workshop on their rights and responsibilities as caregivers in Canada.

June 16, 2024 — [Editor’s note: We are reprinting this profile piece about Fely Villasin, an advocate of caregivers. On June 3, 2024, the federal government announced a policy to grant permanent residence to arriving caregivers. Sadly, Fely Vilasin did not live long enough to see this day.]

Fely Villasin July 1, 2021 — Fely Villasin graduated with a BS Foreign Service degree from the University of the Philippines at age 15 because she was accelerated in elementary and high school. She received a four-year scholarship to study at the Sorbonne in Paris and on her return to Manila worked at the French Embassy in the Philippines before she immigrated to Canada in 1974.

She was one of the early Filipino activists in Toronto advocating for social justice which she started in the Philippines where she was a vocal critic of the Marcos dictatorship. She and her husband Ruben Cusipag had to leave the Philippines to avoid persecution by Marcos supporters. They continued their activism in Toronto against Marcos until the popular uprising called EDSA people revolution with the support of the United States ended the Marcos dictatorship in 1986 and Cory Aquino became president through the strength of People Power.

In Toronto Fely  set up INTERCEDE in 1979 to champion the rights of caregivers and domestic workers.  She organized other Filipino activists to fight for landed immigrant status for caregivers and domestic workers, a fight still to be won.  They advocated full coverage for domestic workers in the Ontario Employment Standards Act and in the Ontario Human Rights Code, the granting of full coverage  for domestic workers under the Workers Compensation  Act and upholding of the right of domestic workers to organize under Ontario’s Labour Relations Act.  As founder and coordinator of INTERCEDE, she devoted herself to the rights of caregivers and domestic workers in Canada, mostly Filipinos, until she succumbed to cancer in 2006 at age 65. She is survived by her daughter Nadine. 

She was also one of the founders of the Kababayan Community Centre, the Kapisanan Philippine Centre and in 1982 the Carlos Bolosan Theatre, the only long-standing professional Filipino Canadian theatre company in Toronto for which she wrote plays and acted for many years as her pastime.

Editor of Canadian Filipino Net
Eleanor R. Laquian has written four best-selling books, and co-authored four others with husband Prod Laquian. She has served in various capacities at the University of British Columbia’s Institute of Asian Research as manager of administration and programs; editor and chair, publications committee; and primary researcher of the Asian Immigration to Canada project. She has a degree in journalism from Maryknoll College in the Philippines, and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of the Philippines. She did postgraduate studies at the School of Public Communications,  Boston University in the U.S.

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