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Filipino community a welcome addition to Labrador West

Gen Devela arrived in Labrador West six years ago and has been working full-time every day since her feet hit the ground.
Gen Devela arrived in Labrador West six years ago and has been working full-time every day since her feet hit the ground. - Gary Shaw

LABRADOR CITY, N.L. — History has proven time and again that there are few things that stay the same.

There is no better example of this than the arrival of people from the Philippines in Labrador West over the last number of years.

They have arrived in Labrador West to help in filling a need in the community work force. A much needed infusion of workers, who have as it has turned out, filled in many business locations throughout the community at a time when the business community needed the help to keep the wheels of commerce in motion.

The Filipino community in Labrador West, numbering about 300 people, has a very vibrant presence locally. Single people and families are all working towards the same common goal of success in their lives that each and every one of us want to achieve.

Their presence is visible daily throughout the community. On the job, in churches and schools and at recreational and sports venues, they are active and engaged members of the community and in the big picture. As we measure the wellness of our community, we are lucky to have them.

They have, through their culture, shared many things with us. Their rock solid commitment to family and their employment is a gentle reminder to us all of the important things in our lives.

For any of us who have been lucky enough to share a Filipino “scoff”, the food and recipes that they have brought from their homeland is truly an adventure in some, not only different, but also really great food. We can now find at our local grocery store some unique items that are specific to many of the dishes created from their culture to try ourselves.

What might get overlooked by many is the incredible effort this community of people has made to have the opportunity for success in life that we perhaps might take for granted.

The Philippines couldn’t be much further away from us than anywhere else on the planet. They are 11 hours in the difference relative to the time zones that separates us. The weather alone adds a challenge to their lives that is a big adjustment. From sun and +30 to snow and -30 is certainly an eye opener for folks who have never shoveled any snow.

Gen Devela’s story

From the personal side of this, we will share Gen Devela’s story.

She packed her bags and left her home, family, everyone she loves and everything she knows relative to lifestyle, and said goodbye, for the opportunity to build a better life. The journey to Labrador West is a 21-hour flight through 11 time zones via Manila, Korea, Toronto and the milk run into Labrador West. A long and expensive journey for sure.

Devela arrived in Labrador West six years ago and has been working full time every day since her feet hit the ground.

She comes from a big family — mom and dad, two brothers and six sisters. She is number five in a close-knit family. Devela’s commitment to her family is measured on a regular basis. She has money set aside from her pay that is sent home every month and a package of clothes is sent on a regular basis. Devela is clearly a person that cares about her family back home and is a welcome and contributing member to her new “family, “ in Labrador West.

Devela recently returned from her first trip home to the Philippines in four years. She shared her homeland, her family and friends and some great weather, on a wonderful reunion for sure. When asked if she had any second thoughts about returning to her Labrador home, her answer was swift.

“There were tears shed when I arrived and tears shed when I departed, but there was no doubt about the return journey to my Labrador home,” she said.

Devela is young, smart, and driven to succeed. Looking forward, she understands how big Canada is and under the right circumstances, may consider exploring other parts of the country.

Wherever life ultimately takes Devela, we are very fortunate to have her as an important part of our community and all of the positive benefits that she and her Filipino community have given us.    

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