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Virgil, Ont. – June 7, 2013 - Hundreds of migrant agriculture workers and guests gathered at the Virgil Agriculture Workers Alliance (AWA) workers' support centre June 2, for the centre's Annual Opening Barbeque and Soccer Tournament. Each spring, the yearly gathering hosted by the AWA and UFCW Canada welcomes back migrant farm workers employed in southern Ontario's Niagara region. Under sunny skies, it was an afternoon of good food, music, and renewed friendships between the workers, the AWA staff, and other community allies.
The Sunday gathering began with a mass led by Father Hernán Astudillo, followed by a barbeque with food donated by UFCW Canada and deliciously prepared by members of the San Lorenzo Church community. The festivities continued with live music and a friendly soccer tournament organized by Students Against Migrant Exploitation (SAME), which also donated a bicycle raffle prize. Other community-based allies, including the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers (OHCOW), AIDS Niagara, and the Niagara North Community Legal Clinic, distributed information about access to health clinics and an upcoming Health Fair.
"We're grateful to have hosted the Virgil event," says National President Hanley. "It was not only a chance to say 'welcome back', but also 'thank you' to migrant agriculture workers in the Niagara area who contribute so much to the region and community." The Virgil AWA centre is now operating in its eighth year as a cornerstone of support for migrant and domestic agriculture workers employed in the Niagara region.