Family Heroes — Profiles of the nominators for the 2011 UFCW Canada Migrant Workers Scholarships

Profiles of the nominators for the 2011 UFCW Canada Migrant Workers Scholarships

Walter Sanchez

Walter Sanchez (on left) with UFCW Canada Local 832 President Jeff Traeger at the Annual Local 832 Brandon Family Picnic

Walter Sanchez, 40-years-old, arrived in Canada  from Honduras in June 2008, under the Temporary Foreign Workers Program. He had worked in a variety of precarious, contract jobs back home after completing a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Sciences, because he couldn’t find secure work in his field. "In Honduras, contract work can be found but full-time work with benefits for your family is almost impossible to secure," says Walter. "It is a way for companies to avoid being accountable to workers over the long-term."

So when Walter saw a job ad in a local paper for the chance to work fulltime at Maple Leaf Foods in Brandon, he immediately applied. He was hired three months later. Walter started as a linewoker. Today he is a full-time trimmer at the pork production facility. As a member of UFCW Canada Local 832, he is protected by a strong collective agreement that also paved the way for him to gain permanent resident status in 2010 and sponsor his family to join him.

"It’s a dream to be here now together", he says. "When I first arrived it was hard to be away from my wife and children but I am an optimist, and my union gave me great support in building a brighter future for my family."

Walter found out about the Migrant Workers Scholarships program while studying English As An Additional Language at UFCW Canada Local 832’s Education and Training Centre. His wife encouraged him to apply for his 7-year-old niece back home, Katherine Pamela Vallecillo Duron who is an exceptional at school in Honduras, and who was recently selected as one of the 20 recipients of the 2011 Scholarships program. Her father passed away two years ago, making the scholarship all the more valuable to Katherine and her family as they plan for her future education.

"My family and I are grateful that I belong to a union that is so progressive, believes in its members, and believes in education," says Walter. "I came as a migrant worker, ready and willing to work hard to achieve all that is possible for my family, so I thank UFCW Canada and the scholarship program for making such a difference to our lives and to Katherine's."