Friday, March 20, 2009

In Memory of Juana Tejada, Bagong Bayani par excellence

Migrante International, the global alliance of Filipino migrant workers, together with her family, met the remains of Juana Tejada, the OFW* heroine from Toronto, Canada, who finally lost her battle with cancer, at the Pair Pags Center, Ninoy Aquino International Airport Avenue in Pasay City, Philippines. (Photo Alex Felipe)

Juana Tejada, a former caregiver under Canada’s Live-In Caregiver Program, was hailed a hero among OFWs and Filipino immigrants in Canada because of her key role in amending section 38(2) the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act of Canada. The amendment highlighted the inclusion of the Live-in Caregiver Class to the list of applicants who should automatically be granted exemption from the “good health” requirement. This is known to as the Juana Tejada Law.

“We give our highest salute to Juana Tejada,” Migrante Chairperson Garry Martinez exclaimed. “She is, indeed a female OFW par excellence, who while battling the debilitating disease of cancer, relentlessly worked for the rights and welfare of caregivers in Canada.”

It is to be remembered that last year, after she was diagnosed with cancer, Canadian authorities told her she could not stay as she would be a burden to the Canadian health care system. Tejada had been working as a caregiver in Canada for two years, fulfilling the two year eligibility period, under the Live-in Caregiver Program, for a permanent residency. Her case sparked a campaign to amend the immigration law and eventually led to the Juana Tejada Law.

Martinez continued, “Our commemoration of March 8, International Women’s Day, will certainly be more meaningful as we add Juana’s name to the list of resolute and courageous women we will remember. It is not so much her triumph but her dignity and commitment to struggle against an oppressive system is what will inspire many of us to go on with the struggle for, not only for migrants rights, but for the emancipation of the toiling masses from exploitation.”

At the airport, Migrante conducted a short tribute, while draping a Migrante banner on the coffin as a symbol of their homage to Tejada. Tejada’s remains will be brought all the way to her home province, Abra.

20 March 2009
Garry Martinez, Chairperson, Migrante International, +63 9217229740
Ailyn Abdula, Media Liaison, Migrante International, +63 9212708994

*Overseas Filipino Worker

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