From student volunteer to president, Jackie Wild has seen, and helped foster, a lot of change in her eight years with the Manitoba Filipino Business Council.
In its early days, the organization sought to connect Filipino business leaders under the leadership of a board that was mostly male. Today, the predominantly female board, led by Wild, is hoping to set an inclusive and allied path for the burgeoning business group.
Under her leadership, the council plans to expand its reach to serve as a resource centre both for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of colour) in business roles, and for all generations of Manitoba’s Filipino community.
"It’s really amazing to see how much the community has gotten behind what we do, and also to see the vision transform over the years to be so much bigger and broader than us ourselves," Wild said.
"Certainly in the climate that we’re in, one of our key mandates is making sure that we’re supporting some of the most underserved and underrepresented groups in business settings."
Richard Ledda, who runs his own chiropractic business in Winnipeg, is grateful for the support he received as a young entrepreneur several years ago. Ledda said he was mentored as his budding business grew.
"It was a great way to build the community and see like-minded individuals of the same ethnicity," Ledda said. "Seeing their success, seeing that they go through their own struggles as well, but as a Filipino self-employed individual, seeing that I’m not alone."
Ledda said the council gave him opportunities to spread the word about his practice — eventually growing the business by about 20 per cent — and to meet Filipino professionals who could support him.
Though his involvement slowed down, Ledda has stayed in touch with those he met at galas, seminars and trade shows, and he’s noticed a new energy this year.
The council’s new board, which was elected in January, is mostly women and first-time board members. With a fresh set of minds at the table, Wild said the team wants to expand its mandate, membership and role in the community to welcome a younger generation of leaders.
"I think it’s very easy as a BIPOC woman to question whether this is a place you deserve, a place you’ve earned," she said. "You realize that if you take the opportunity to make yourself comfortable and fight those voices in your head that are trying to convince you that you don’t deserve this opportunity, the work that you do as a woman in that leadership role is a chance to make things easier for the next generation."
“It’s really amazing to see how much the community has gotten behind what we do, and also to see the vision transform over the years to be so much bigger and broader than us ourselves.” – Jackie Wild
The council hopes to address the rise in anti-Asian hate crime and learn anti-racism skills from other racialized groups.
"(Our role) is not only to represent and protect our community, but to also to work with community groups and build further connection with allies so we can continue working collaboratively to instill stronger policies, frameworks and support systems for the greater business community and beyond," Wild said.
The council has worked with the Aboriginal Chamber of Commerce to build solidarity between the Indigenous and Filipino communities, as well as the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce and World Trade Centre to facilitate anti-racism policy in the business community.
The board is made up of just five members, and though each has a unique perspective, Wild said the group is committed to being led by the goals and priorities of the entire Filipino community: from newcomers to second- and third-generation immigrants, from business leaders and professionals to those with no interest in the business world.
“(Our role) is not only to represent and protect our community, but to also to work with community groups and build further connection with allies.” – Jackie Wild
"Historically, we’ve really been focused on the business community, which is still very much part of our mandate, but looking back now on all of the relationships we’ve built in the past, our mandate really is much broader than just the business community and just the Filipino community," said Wild.
"We want to make sure that folks from all over the province understand that this is a resource for them whether you identify as Filipino, you’re deeply rooted and involved in the Filipino community, or you’re a person that’s interested in getting engaged with the Filipino community."
Ledda said he’s excited to renew his membership with the council.
"I’m seeing them get momentum, energy and new leadership and I feel that’s awesome for that community and for the Filipino community as well," Ledda said.
“We want to make sure that folks from all over the province understand that this is a resource for them whether you identify as Filipino, you’re deeply rooted and involved in the Filipino community, or you’re a person that’s interested in getting engaged with the Filipino community.” – Jackie Wild
"Winnipeg is a very diverse city of lots of different populations. Filipinos aren’t just doing business with Filipinos, they’re doing business with other cultures and I think it’s crucial to get our connections out there to other communities."
The team plans to hold a town hall at the end of the month for members and anyone who wants to contribute to the group or learn about its goals.
"We wanted to set the stage by hitting the reset button for ourselves and making sure all of our programming was fully informed by the community," said Wild.
Julia-Simone Rutgers is a general-assignment reporter.