25 immigrants from different provinces in Canada have been selected this year for the 13th annual Canadian Immigrant Awards. Among them are Filipino Canadians Edsel Mutia and Ida Beltran Lucila.
Mutia is an award-winning ICU charge nurse at North York General Hospital in Toronto and part of the critical care response team at the Scarborough General Hospital, while Lucila is an artistic director for the Chameleon Dance Edmonton and the Edmonton Festival Ballet and executive director of the Philippine Arts Council-Alberta.
"We are here to represent the Philippines. Also I represent the, as what they call, the frontliners [this] pandemic. We are the ones who worked so hard," Mutia says. For her part, Lucila says "it's thrilling but at the same time, it's very humbling because you didn't get there on your own. It’s with the help of the community."
Lucila and Mutia were chosen from among hundreds of nominees. This was trimmed to 75 finalists and the top 25 were chosen after more than 70,000 votes were cast online.
Mutia and Lucila faced challenges when they first came to Canada. Lucila, a former principal dancer of Ballet Philippines, says she and her husband, dancer Jojo Lucila, moved to Canada in 2005 to give their children a better future.
"When we moved to Canada, I sort of lost my footing. Self-worth was attached to my arts background and then of course, I was doing jobs here and there just to earn a livelihood," Lucila shares.
Meanwhile, Mutia used to work as a nurse in Saudi Arabia before coming to Canada with his wife in 2006. "Yun po yung sakripisyo, it's going to school and then pregnant po siya. It’s like the typical Canadian immigrant na noong dumating ay walang kaibigan (The sacrifices, I was going to school, and she was pregnant. It’s like the typical Canadian immigrant who arrived without having any friends)," Mutia says.
They have come a long way since they first arrived. Lucila also now works at the Edmonton Public Schools and recently produced a documentary called 'Paglalayag: The Philippines to Canada Journey' to chronicle the paths of Filipino immigrants.
Mutia, who initially wanted to be an engineer, has been featured as an urban hero for the work that he does as an ICU charge nurse. He also mentors other internationally educated nurses as a way of giving back to the community. "Pananalig lang sa Panginoon (Just have faith in God)," Mutia has this advice for new immigrants.
As for Lucila, she tells them "to keep your focus. Take it one step at a time. There will be bad days and good days but if you have the end in sight, I always say, keep the focus but enjoy the journey and always have a sense of humor."
The winners of this year's Top 25 Canadian Immigrants will receive a commemorative plaque and a ceremonial package. A virtual awarding ceremony will be held on December 9.