On the evening of Oct. 11 the members of the Filipino Association of Southwestern Manitoba Inc. (FILTOBA), headed by Olivan Afuang, held a meeting with Member of Parliament, Robert Sopuck and MLA, Stu Briese, at the Chicken Corral Restaurant in Neepawa. The two representatives met with the Filipinos to show their willingness to help the growing community with issues like housing and immigration. Miss. Judy Snitynsky, the Constituency Executive Administrator to the office of Robert Sopuck, was also present to take note of the matters to be addressed. Andrea Winik attended the meeting as well, as she is considered the mother/mentor of the Filipinos in Neepawa. The federal government representatives expressed their appreciation to the Filipinos for their efforts in making Neepawa the thriving community it is now. Bob Sopuck mentioned how pleased he is as he was informed of how the town churches have been filling up since the immigrants settled into town. He was also delighted to know that most of the Filipinos have come to appreciate the beauty of Canada, most specially the parks at Riding Mountain and area. Bob encouraged the group to, one day, join hockey teams and go ice-fishing. He stated that he realizes how difficult the winters are in Manitoba, but that it is part and parcel of the Canadian way of life. In return, the FILTOBA members expressed their gratitude for the warm welcome that the people of Neepawa have extended to the Filipino immigrants for the past few years. Olivan made some inquiries on how to handle some immigration issues that the Filipinos have been experiencing. Andrea Winik made mention of the current difficulties to do the “steps” to get into Canada. Bob Sopuck said that his office is willing to listen and discuss these issues at length. He added that Canada has a labour shortage which is the main reason why immigrants are continuously being recruited by various companies. But within this process, it is very difficult to filter the ones who enter the country legally and illegally. This is why there is also a need for the government to be careful. Bob continued to say that the procedure is like a “balancing act” for both the government and the immigrants. This is not to be considered a setback but only a cautious effort which will be beneficial for all parties involved in the long run. Douglas Wilkinson, a worker from HyLife and a volunteer who earnestly provides a helping hand to his Filipino co-workers, mentioned that one of the most prominent problems encountered by the immigrants is that of the “almost impossible” documentations needed in order to apply for permanent residency. There are some Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who previously worked in Arab or other Asian countries before coming to Canada. The Canadian immigration requires the Filipinos to provide a “police clearance” from each and every country they were once employed but countries such as Saudi Arabia do not issue such documents. Bob Sopuck assured the group that he will look into this matter. The housing problem was also discussed during the meeting. Although this has been a long-standing issue, it has not been fully addressed by the town and HyLife. Bob Sopuck and Stu Briese voiced their thoughts on this topic. They stated that they are quite optimistic this issue will be resolved in due time. The attendees of the meeting agreed to convene again, on a later date, to discuss more pending issues. Stu Briese said that his office is always open and that he is willing to listen to inquiries and grievances. Robert Sopuck informed the group of where he can be contacted and that he will provide further answers to some of the topics mentioned earlier on the next meeting. We Filipinos are very thankful to Robert Sopuck and Stu Briese for reaching out to us and for the opportunity they gave us to speak out our opinions and concerns.