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Edmonton Filipino community rallies to bring groceries to quarantined meat-plant workers in High River

Members of Edmonton's Filipino community are preparing to deliver groceries down to High River and Okotoks.
Members of Edmonton's Filipino community are preparing to deliver groceries down to High River and Okotoks. Supplied

An Edmonton-based Filipino business organization is heading down to High River and Okotoks this weekend with a convoy of groceries for isolated workers from the Cargill meat plant.

The plant has been the site of the biggest coronavirus outbreak in Alberta, with 921 cases linked to the facility confirmed as of Friday.

The Cargill plant was closed down due to COVID-19 on April 20 but is set to reopen Monday. However, the union representing the workers has launched legal action to stop that planned opening.

About 70 per cent of the workers at the plant are Filipino, according to officials.

“In any small way, we want to reach out, let it be known that no matter how far we are from our country of origin, the Philippines, we are with them in this COVID-19 battle,” Bayani Alcantara, the president of the Philippine Business Society of Alberta, said Saturday.

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READ MORE: Diverse communities in Calgary facing discrimination over Cargill’s COVID-19 cases

The plea for donations was made over social media on Tuesday, and the group was able to gather $10,000 by Thursday for a massive truck of food for around 120 people who are isolated.

“Some are actually in isolation and some are in quarantine,” said Peter Codizal, the communications and marketing director for the society.

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“But either way, they really can’t leave their homes and they’re having a hard time getting food, so we’re doing the best we can to provide for them.”

Volunteers have spent the last few days packing up cases of groceries. A convoy of 10 vehicles will drive them down south Sunday morning while practising social distancing.

About eight to 10 cars will soon drive supplies down to High River and Okotoks for isolated and quarantined Cargill workers.
About eight to 10 cars will soon drive supplies down to High River and Okotoks for isolated and quarantined Cargill workers. Supplied

“We are going to make sure we all have gloves, sanitizers… We’re just going to put the goods right in front of their house, make sure somebody picks it up, and then leave,” Codizal said.

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Members of the Philippine Business Society of Alberta planned the initiative while following social distancing rules.
Members of the Philippine Business Society of Alberta planned the initiative while following social distancing rules. Supplied

READ MORE: ‘Death is so real’: Immigrant group says meat workers afraid after COVID-19 plant closure

The society has previously raised money for other causes to help the Filipino community both locally and internationally.

“We have developed a network of people we deal with on a regular basis. We all know each other,” Codizal said. “We just want to make sure we can help whoever we can.”

READ MORE: Edmonton’s Filipino community rallies to raise money for victims of Typhoon Mangkhut

The group used its network to connect with in-need families in High River and Okotoks.

“These Filipinos are in their most vulnerable stage. They may feel alone and helpless. This gesture will make them feel like they’re at home with their families,” said Alcantara.

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Alberta Filipino community ‘worried for our lives’ as members test positive for COVID-19
Alberta Filipino community ‘worried for our lives’ as members test positive for COVID-19

The group will set off from Edmonton on Sunday at 7 a.m. and return in the evening.