Lawyer Rene-John Nicolas addressed the crowd in front of the MHHS offices today (August 23). (Ted Alcuitas/Philippine Canadian News.com)
First update: August 24, 2019, 8:09 AM
Public not allowed inside board meeting
By Ted Alcuitas
Close to 50 placard-waving protesters marched around the offices of the Multicultural Helping House (MHHS) today to express their displeasure over how the agency is run.
Carrying signs like “ Stop Profiteering , Corruption & Exploitation of Caregivers, “Help Save MHHS Now” and “Justice to Caregivers and Newcomers!No to Exploitation!”, the protesters,mostly women , walked around the block shouting slogans.
(All photos by Ted Alcuitas/Philippine Canadian News.com)
Former Executive Officer Will Davis.
Meanwhile inside the building, the annual general meeting (AGM) was taking place and no members of the public were allowed inside including the media.
Speakers at the rally repeated the same demands aired during previous public meetings including the following:
1. Stop exploiting caregivers and newcomers
2. Conduct an organizational audit
3. Conduct a forensic financial audit of the MHHS and Foundation
4. Return MHHS Co-op money with interest to all those requesting a withdrawal, and
5. Replace the current board with an independent and qualified board.
Rene-John Nicolas, former MHHS executive officer Will Davis and Alden Habacon, a diversity & inclusion strategist addressed the media on the sidelines of the march.
Other supporters included the Hospital Employees Union (HEU) and members of Migrante B.C. whose offices is just across the MHHS.
According to witnesses, these people were government auditors that were asked to leave the board meeting. MLA Mable Elmore (left)is seen talking to them and told this reporter not to interview them.
Asked if the protesters were considering asking a police investigation into alleged irregularities in the immigrant-serving organization, no one would answer in the affirmative.
Nicolas said they have to consider their next steps “carefully” but does not rule out asking for an investigation.
The society is currently under audit by the funding organizations including the City of Winnipeg.
Witnesses at today’s demonstration claimed four of the auditing team were “tossed out” of the board meeting.
Former caregiver advocate Rommela Deuna spoke about caregivers being ‘sold’ expensive life insurance policies. She also asked where the monies they raised in fund-raising events went.
When this writer tried to interview the four, I was prevented to do so by Vancouver-Kensington NDP MLA Mable Elmore who appeared to be directing the conduct of the demonstration.
This writer was also prevented from covering the board meeting as I was not “on the list” of members.
When I identified myself as a media and was willing just to observe and not ask questions, the registration desk said “only members were allowed according to the Constitution.”
The rally called by the year-old Filipino Canadian Advocacy Network started at 12:30 PM and people were still milling outside the MHHS offices at 2:30. Some were inside the offices of Migrante B. C. where a “de-briefing’ was held.