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Manitoba organization honors Filipino women 'trailblazers'

Lucille Nolasco-Garrido | TFC News Manitoba

Posted at Jun 03 2023 11:10 AM

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The seventh annual Pinays Manitoba Trailblazers Recognized luncheon honored four Filipinas for their achievements and contributions in their respective fields.

"We give a positive impact to the community, finding these trailblazers and telling their stories," said Winnie Navaro, president of Pinays Manitoba. It’s a sense of pride. We are able to develop role models for our second-generation Filipino women.”

The awardees were Jacqueline Monique Drapeau, Alona Mercado, Azel Navarro, and Flordeliz "Gigi" Osler.

Drapeau champions for at-risk youth and is the executive director of the Broadway Neighborhood Centre, which develops programs for young people.

Mercado, meanwhile, is a lawyer who co-founded the first all-Asian female law firm in Manitoba. The Mercado-Trinh-Law LLP has reset the rules for hiring foreign-trained professionals.

Also receiving the award was Navarro, the first Filipino in Manitoba to work in the field of occupational therapy in mental health.

The said career choice was not a well-traveled path for Filipinos in the 1980's. For Azel, the mantra has always been to serve others not only in her professional life but also in the personal level.

Osler, on the other hand, is the first Filipina to be appointed to the Canadian Senate in September 2022.

She is also a surgeon and in 2017, became the first racialized woman president of the Canadian Medical Association.

"This is one of the highest awards I have ever received," said Osler. "This is an award that fills my heart and my soul like no other."