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A UFCW Canada Human Rights Department Release

Five extraordinary students from across the globe are the first-ever recipients of the UFCW Canada Migrant Workers Scholarships.

Launched in May 2010, the UFCW Canada's Migrant Workers Scholarships program generated over 4,000 applications from migrant workers in Canada, who under the unique scholarship program can nominate their children, grandchildren, sisters, brothers, or nieces, and nephews as scholarship applicants. This scholarship is the first of its kind in North America.  

"Congratulations to the recipients, and our thanks to all who applied," says National President Wayne Hanley. "As a leading advocate for the rights of migrant and temporary workers in Canada, the UFCW Canada family recognizes the importance of empowering migrant workers through education."

The worthy and ecstatic first-year recipients include Mark S. Buenaventura from the Philippines, Nancy Sanchez Martinez from Mexico, Jinnel Lewis from Jamaica, Walter Alexander Cua Cuj Cuj from Guatemala, and Juan Diego Mosquera Dominguez from Colombia.  Each was awarded $1,000 to help with their scholastic expenses in their home countries.

Juan Diego Mosquera Dominguez, 18-years-old, from Colombia, was nominated by his uncle Miguel Angel Dominguez. Miguel Dominguez is a UFCW Canada Local 832 member who works at Maple Leaf Foods in Brandon, Manitoba and came to Canada in 2007 under the Temporary Foreign Workers program. His nephew Juan is a gifted student and athlete who plans on using his scholarship to help with his tuition at the Central University in Bogota, Colombia.

"I'm extremely grateful to UFCW Canada for making such a program available to the families of migrant workers back home" says Juan. "It is something I will remember every day in dedicating myself to my studies."

To see photos and videos of 2010 winners, please click here.

Jinnel Lewis, 7-years-old, from Jamaica, was nominated by her father Rudolph Lewis who has come to Canada each season for the past ten years as a migrant agricultural worker in the Simcoe, Ontario area under the Canadian Seasonal Agriculture Workers Program (CSAWP). His daughter Jinnel is a Grade 2 student, "who has that spark of excellence!" according to her teacher.

"We're so proud of Jinnel," says her Dad. "I also want to thank the AWA worker centre in Simcoe for letting me know about the program and for helping us apply."

Mark S. Buenaventura, a nine-year-old student from the Philippines, pledged in his "Thank you" letter to donating some of his scholarship money with some renovations at his school. The community-minded Mark hopes to be a veterinarian someday, and lives with his Mom and Dad who literally cried with joy when they got the news about the scholarship. It was Mark's aunt, Jesusa Santos, who nominated him. Sister Santos is a member of GABRIELA, an affiliate of Migrante Canada. She works in Canada under the Live-In Caregiver program and resides with a family she works for in Toronto.

Nancy Sanchez Martinez, 14-years-old, from Tlaxcala, Mexico was recently ranked in the top ten of students her age by Mexico's National Evaluation Institute (ENLACE). She was nominated by her father, Gabriel Sanchez Ramirez, who has worked at Quebec and Ontario agriculture operations since 2003 as a temporary foreign worker under CSAWP, and applied for the program with the help of the staff at the AWA centre in Leamington.

To download the migrant scholarship application form, please click here.

"I thank you in advance for your interest in the education of the children of migrant workers," wrote Nancy in her thank you letter, "which not only benefits a few, but makes the world a better place for all." Nancy is entering her third year of high school and plans on using her scholarship for school supplies and materials.

Walter Alexander Cua Cuj Cuj, 9-years-old, from Guatemala was nominated by his father Mario Cua Cacatzi, who has come to Canada the past five seasons as a migrant agricultural worker under the Temporary Foreign Workers Program, and was helped in applying for the scholarship by the AWA centre in St. Remi, Quebec. "This is a blessing for our family," said Walter's dad. "Thank you to UFCW Canada and the AWA for helping make Walter's hopes of education come true."

In his thank you letter, Walter wrote, "thank you for having selected me as a winner of this scholarship. It is a real pleasure to send you greetings and wish you prosperity and blessings from our God".

Based on the phenomenal response in its first year, the UFCW Canada Migrant Scholarships program has expanded its opportunities. In 2011 the program will be offering 20 scholarships of $500 each. The deadline to apply is December 31, 2011. For more information, or to apply online, go to http://ufcw.ca/migrantscholarships

To read the Toronto Star article "Labour Scholarship empowers Canadian migrant workers, please click here.


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