Rommel Silverio, who moved to Yellowknife from the Philippines nearly 21 years ago, says he brings an immigrant’s perspective to city council.
And, said the incumbent councillor, as the city is trying to recruit new residents, his take is especially valuable.
“I wasn’t born here but I made Yellowknife my home,” said Silverio.
“I had those experiences that immigrants would like to relay to council.”
Specifically, Silverio wants to make life easier for newcomers who may be working multiple jobs in order to support their families in Yellowknife and overseas.
He said some immigrant families earn too much to qualify for affordable housing but cannot afford market housing either.
“We work so many jobs but there’s still family, say in the Philippines or in India, that are relying on our income,” said Silverio.
“The immigrants are the people who really work hard and the tendency as well is to reunite the families,” he continued.
“There is the possibility that they can get their family back home or their friends … reunited and stay in Yellowknife, which we want, more people in Yellowknife.”
If re-elected, Silverio said, he will push for “below-market housing,” in other words, residential units with rents lower than the average, private market rates but not as low as the affordable housing rates offered by the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation.
Silverio, who works as a registered nurse, raised three children in the city and supported his parents’ Yellowknife cleaning business, RS Cleaning and Janitorial Services.
He studied at Aurora College and has been involved with the Philippine Cultural Association.
“Yellowknife gave me so much,” said Silverio. He said he is running again because he wants to continue to give back to the community.
Silverio said he learned a lot during his three years on council, namely, that he can be a calm presence in the room when tensions run high.
“Sometimes there are discussions in council that are pretty heated,” he said.
“I’m a really relaxed person … I’m quiet, I talk when I need to talk, but I’m always bringing the immigrant idea because I’m a first-generation immigrant.”
* video interview was recorded on Oct. 2, day of fire at Rockhill Apartments