On May 18, Julian-Ray Fortaleza left for Ottawa for a groundbreaking internship program on Parliament Hill.
Fortaleza, 24, will be representing B.C. as the province’s lone representative to the first Canadian-Philippine Interparliamentary Program.
The five-week program is one of the initiatives celebrating the celebration in Canada of the first Filipino Heritage Month in June this year.
There are 11 other Filipino Canadian interns in the House of Commons and Senate.
Fortaleza is a psychology major from the University of British Columbia.
He is the eldest son of ReyFort Media Group founder and 1976 Olympian Rey Fortaleza and spouse Araceli.
Fortaleza will serve as an intern with Liberal Surrey Centre MP Randeep Sarai.
The Surrey-born and –raised Fortaleza is proud of his Filipino heritage.
In the souvenir program for the interparliamentary initiative, Fortaleza said: “I take pride in the rich cultural history of the Philippines and the resilience of the Filipino people.”
Kevin Lamoureux is the Liberal MP for Winnipeg North, and he chairs the Canada Philippines Interparliamentary Group.
In a message, Lamoureux quoted Philippine national hero Dr. Jose Rizal, who said that “The youth are our future.”
Lamoureux told the interns: “This experience will provide you with not only a greater understanding of our federal government, but also equip you with invaluable skills that will help you pursue careers in the future.”
Lamoureux indicated that the interns will be involved in the work of the House of Commons and Senate, including liaising with other offices, research, policy analysis, communication, and social media management.
The Winnipeg North MP also thanked the Philippine Independence Committee of Ottawa Valley (PICOV) and the Filipino Students Association-University of Ottawa, MPs, Senators, and the Filipino community in Ottawa for making the program possible.
Philippine Ambassador to Canada Petronila Garcia congratulated the Filipino Canadian interns.
“This program is a unique opportunity to be immersed in the work of Canada’s Parliament and to have a first-hand view of the interparliamentary collaboration between Philippines and Canada,” Garcia said.
PICOV chair Nora Arriola welcomed the interns to Ottawa, the country’s capital.
“We hope that this experience will help and inspire our interns with their future aspirations,” Arriola said.