Filipino Canadian Marichu Antonio made history when she was named Citizen of the Year by the City of Calgary during the city council meeting on 21 June 2021. Antonio, who was born in Manila, is the first Filipino Canadian woman to win the award.
Established in 1994, the Calgary Awards are hosted by the city each year to recognize Calgarians and local organizations for their outstanding achievements and significant contributions to the community.
Ms. Antonio came to Canada in 1994 and worked as Community Development Manager at the Centre for Newcomers in Calgary for 13 years. She is currently the executive director and a founding member of ActionDignity, an organization that works to make Calgary a just and equitable society for all. During the pandemic, Ms. Antonio quickly shifted ActionDignity’s focus to emergency support to Calgarians including essential workers in Cargill and JBS meat plants.
She also co-founded the Multilingual Emergency Response Centre (MERC) Hotline in response to COVID-19 and sits as a key player in the Calgary East Zone Newcomers Collaborative (CENC). Offering support in 24 languages, CENC served 12,400 COVID-impacted Calgarians with food, financial and mental health support as they healed with dignity.
Ms. Antonio is also a recipient of the 2012 Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal and Avenue Magazine’s A-List of Volunteers in 2009 in recognition of her contributions towards strengthening communities.
Consul General Zaldy Patron lauded Ms. Antonio’s feat and personally congratulated her. “I am extremely proud of Ms. Marichu Antonio, who made history by becoming the first Filipino Canadian and the first woman of color to receive Calgary’s Citizen of the Year Award since the award’s establishment 27 years ago. This is a big honor for our large Filipino community in Calgary. I am certain that her remarkable achievement will inspire our fellow Filipinos in Canada to excel in their advocacies and professions,” Consul General Patron said. The Consul General and his wife, Sheila, hosted Ms. Antonio and her husband Cesar Cala to a dinner to honor the occasion.
Based on the 2016 Canada Census, Calgary hosts about 75,000 Filipinos out of the city’s total population of about 1.4 million people.
For information, visit https://www.facebook.com/PHinCalgary/.