When Taal Volcano erupted in the Philippines on Jan. 12, the fallout would eventually reach Yellowknife.

This Saturday, the Philippine Cultural Association of Yellowknife rallied to support victims of the natural disaster, holding a spaghetti dinner at St. Patrick’s Co-Cathedral and donating the proceeds to the Batangas Red Cross. Fundraising was partly to support families in Yellowknife with ties to affected areas in the Philippines.

The impact of the volcano’s eruption was wide-ranging — local authorities ordered a total evacuation of the surrounding area, prompting large-scale displacement.

At St. Patrick’s Co-Cathedral, members of the Philippine Cultural Association of Yellowknife gather for a photo Saturday. At front, left to right, that’s Evey Antonio, public relations officer; Lea Barbosa-Leclerc, president; Lou Rankin, vice president. At back, left to right, that’s Mimi Gran, trustee; Sylvia Masongsong, treasurer; John Paul Mercado, secretary; Don Laceste l, trustee.
Photo courtesy of Geoff’s Litrato

As a result, while the fundraising numbers are still being tallied, the association’s president, Lea Barbosa Leclerc, is calling for more support. For her, it’s about local community members just as much as those abroad.

“Like any natural disaster, it’s not one we look forward to. But when it hits, it hits not only the people there … but it also hits the family and relatives wherever they are in the world,” she said.

While she can’t imagine the feelings of families with ties to the affected areas, she said it was important to show support and offer help.

It was an “overwhelming feeling” to see community members and residents outside of the association also show support, she said. Saturday’s dinner included food donations from community members, Northwest Distributors, McDonald’s, Northern Food Services and Trevor’s Independent grocery store.

In addition to the $10 spaghetti dinner, the fundraiser also offered for the same price family photos from Geoff’s Litrato that featured backdrops from Cindy’s Dream Creations.

‘When it affects one family, then it affects everyone else’

Barbosa-Leclerc said the Yellowknife Filipino is always quick to respond to disasters in their home country. She lost two family members in 2013 when Typhoon Haiyan hit, and the community response in Yellowknife was likewise strong.

“Fillipinos are very families oriented, and we’re very close,” she said. “When it affects one family, then it affects everyone else.”

That said, everyone is welcome to contribute. Whether a member of the cultural association or otherwise, Yellowknifers are all part of a whole, she said.

The cultural association still aims to raise more funds by the end of the week. All donations can be sent to pcay.yk@yahoo.com.

Barbosa-Leclerc said the whole community’s support would be a welcome addition to support families affected by the volcano eruption.

“We’re a very important part of this city. People in this city are welcoming us, and we are part of them,” she said. “But if we come together, we can truly make a difference.”

Nick Pearce

Nick Pearce is a writer and reporter in Yellowknife, looking for unique stories on the environment and people that make up the North. He's a graduate of Queen's University, where he studied Global Development...

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