Ambassador Leslie B. Gatan led Team Philippines in Canada on an economic and consular mission to the Maritime Provinces of historic Prince Edward island and scenic New Brunswick from 24 to 30 September 2012, thus rounding out his tour of Atlantic Canada — which started in Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as in Nova Scotia, in April 2012.
In the Cradle of Canadian Confederation
Ambassador Gatan visited historic Prince Edward Island – known as the cradle of the Confederation, and held calls on and meetings with the Honorable Lieutenant Governor H. Frank Lewis, the Hon. Premier Robert Ghiz, His Worship Clifford Lee, Mayor of Charlottetown, the Honorable Allen Roach, Minister of Innovation and Advanced Learning, the Honorable Janice Sherry, Minister of Environment, Labor and Justice, and Mr. Lee Brammer of Innovation PEI.
Ambassador Gatan further held meetings with business leaders and managers and visited manufacturing facilities in the province, including the Mussels King facility at Morell, the Master Packaging Plant at Borden, the Cavendish Farms in New Annan, and the Testori Americas Corporation in Summerside. The Ambassador met such prominent business leaders such as Mary Jean Irving and Ellen Dockendorff.
The Ambassador toured the campus and modern facilities of the Holland College and met with President Brian McCauley and Justin Dunn.
The visit of the Ambassador and his delegation was facilitated by the Chief of Protocol Mary Ellen Morieke and Mrs. Leticia Da Rosa, the latter among the pioneering Filipino migrants in the province. The Ambassador saw firsthand how Filipino migrants and workers continue to demonstrate the kind of work ethic and skill sets Filipinos are known for in the world.
On the occasion of the visit of the Ambassador, the Philippine Embassy Consular Section conducted a parallel consular service to Filipino nationals at the Jack Blanchard Family Centre. The Ambassador announced that the provision of the consular service would be scheduled on a yearly basis, to service the needs of the growing Filipino community in the province.
The Ambassador and his delegation were feted by the community, which, even without any formal representative organization, showcased a deep sense of unity and camaraderie that would evidently be unique and unparalleled in Canada. Joining the Filipino workers during the get-together were the employers as well as His Worship Mayor Lee themselves.
Hope and Luck and the Harvesting of Potatoes
The potato continues to be intricately linked to the wealth and livelihood of Atlantic Canada, demonstrating the proverbial luck in harvesting the spud from planting veritable pebbles. At New Brunswick, Ambassador Gatan and his mission explored ways to have the famed luck extend to possible linkages in trade, commerce and investment between Filipino and New Brunswick enterprises. New Brunswick is the new land of hope particularly for the increasing number of Filipino migrants and workers in the province.
Ambassador Gatan called on the Honorable Graydon Nicholas, Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick, as well as His Worship Mayor Brad Woodside. The Honorable Speaker of the Legislative Assembly Dale Graham hosted a luncheon for the Ambassador and his delegation, and were joined by the Honorable Sue Stultz, and subsequently joined by the honorable Premier David Alward. The official meetings were facilitated by the Chief of Protocol Anne Reynolds.
Ambassador Gatan visited the corporate headquarters of McCain Foods in Florenceville-Bristol and met with Chairman Allison McCain and other McCain corporate officials. The delegation also presented a country briefing before the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce headed by Krista Ross.
Meanwhile, consular services were provided for in Fredericton at the Willie O’Ree Place in collaboration with the Filipino community leaders in the city. During a dialogue with the community, Ambassador Gatan and Labor Attache Francisco Luna addressed the queries and concerns of Filipino temporary workers. They were joined by provincial immigration officers and consultants.
The community members gathered welcomed the announcement from the Ambassador that consular services would be rotated among the major cities in New Brunswick on a yearly basis in recognition of the growing number of Filipino moving to Canada and requiring consular assistance and services.