Rommel Silverio and family. -Facebook image

Rommel Silverio became the first Filipino to be elected to Yellowknife city council and the third Filipino-Canadian to win a seat as a city councillor in Canada’s north, joining Jocelyn Curteanu of Whitehorse and Edwin Empinado of Kitimat.

The 39-year Silverio was elected for the first time to Yellowknife City Council on October 19.

“I feel I have a duty to give back,” says the father of three who works as a nurse at the Stanton Hospital in Yellowknife.

He immigrated to Canada 20 years with his mother to reunite with his father, sister and brother in Yellowknife and “give Canada a shot,” he told EDGE.

“It was a shock,” Silverio tells , recalling the January day when he stepped from a plane and into their first experience with snow and a subarctic climate.  “It was all white, and not a lot of houses.”

The city’s high cost of living required everyone in the family to work. He held as many as three jobs at the same time before he graduated from the four-year nursing program at Aurora College and took a job at Stanton Territorial Hospital.

Silverio’s position managing and coordinating patient care brings him into contact with the city’s troubled youth, who are frequently admitted for emergency medical services. They are a top priority for him.

“One thing I want to really do is make sure we maximize use of programs and facilities for youth,” said Silverio, who is critical of the amount of time and red tape between youth and the programs that would take them off from the street and away from trouble.

“If we get youth off the street we will save more money in the long term,” said Silverio, who advocates elimination of fees and free access to all youth programs.

Silverio, his wife Janice and their three children are part of Yellowknife’s 2,500-member Filipino community, the largest visible minority in the city.

“I’ve been lucky,” he said. “Yellowknife has given so much. Canada is known as a country where prosperity and freedom are not just words. It’s a fact of life that Canadians experience every day. Having experienced that, I feel that it is a duty to give back to the community,” he told EDGE.