The widows of the nine Peruvian migrant workers who perished in a horrific collision near Hampstead, Ontario on February 6 have now received their respective shares from the Migrant Workers Family Support Fund.
Delia Guadalupe Arce Blancas, widow of the late worker Mario Abril Paredes is the spokesperson for the widows, and oversaw the forwarding of their documentation from Peru. “On behalf of my children, Sebastian and Paula, our heartfelt thanks to all of you and each of the noble-hearted people who worked with us at this painful moment. It really is a valuable aid to our families."
"You should have seen my children’s faces knowing how much support we received from the people of the country where his dad went to work in order to improve our well-being and future. We are so far away that we cannot give you a hug of thanks, but the only thing I have in this world is a prayer to our Lord to bless you greatly. Thanks, thanks.”
In the wake of the tragic accident, the Migrant Workers Family Support Fund raised over $225,000 through the generosity of individuals and organizations across Canada. One hundred per cent of the money collected was distributed in 14 equal portions to the individuals or families of the 14 workers who were killed or injured in the Hampstead tragedy.
Here in Canada, five cheques were issued to the survivors, and to families of some of the victims. The first disbursements took place on May 9, in London, Ontario to Javier Alba Medina and Juan Jose Ariza. Medina and Ariza are two of the three survivors of the accident. UFCW Canada National President Wayne Hanley personally presented the cheques to Medina and Ariza. The two men are still recovering from their injuries in a London, Ontario facility. With the support of UFCW Canada, the two men have started a "Right2Stay" campaign — to remain and recover from their injuries with the hope of their families joining them here as residents.
On May 31, Teresa Fulton also received an equal share from the fund. Teresa is the widow of Christopher Fulton, the Ontario driver of one of the vehicles in the fatal collision.
The third disbursement was presented in Kitchener on June 8, to Carolina Enamorado. Carolina is the widow of Nicaraguan worker Juan Castillo who was killed along with the nine Peruvian migrant workers he was riding with.
On June 22, the fourth disbursement was made to Edgar Sulla Puma, the third survivor of the accident who is still recovering in a Hamilton hospital following a four-month coma. UFCW General Counsel and Director of Human Rights Naveen Mehta presented the cheque to Puma who was assisted by his sister Matilde and brother-in-law John Edwards.
“It truly gives us a heartwarming closure knowing that all the survivors, the widows, and the families of the victims have now received their respective shares,” says UFCW Canada National President Wayne Hanley. “The horrific impact of the Hampstead Tragedy will forever remind us why we are so committed to the labour and safety and human rights of our migrant sisters and brothers.”
The Migrant Workers Family Support Fund was a special assistance fund setup by UFCW Canada and the Agriculture Workers Alliance (AWA) to assist the families of the workers killed or injured on February 6, when a van transporting 13 migrant agriculture workers collided with a truck near Hampstead, Ontario.
UFCW Canada is Canada's largest private-sector union with more than 250,000 members coast to coast working primarily in the food sector. In association with the Agriculture Workers Alliance (AWA), UFCW Canada operates 10 AWA agriculture worker support centres across Canada.