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Oct. 19, 2021 | Tuesday
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Migrant workers honoured at annual festival
Pascual Ramirez and Anibal Ramirez enjoy some lunch at the Migrant Bike Safety and Information Festival on Sunday. (Brittany Carter/Niagara Now)

Migrant workers were celebrated for their contribution to Niagara-on-the-Lake’s agricultural success on Sunday.

The Migrant Worker Bike Safety and Information Festival welcomed more than 300 workers to the Centennial Arena in Virgil with a free afternoon barbecue and entertainment.

This was the first year the Niagara Migrant Worker’s Interest Group partnered with the NOTL Safety Committee to combine each organization’s annual migrant worker events.

“We took the bike rodeo and we took the information fair and we combined the best elements of each festival and put them into one,” said Crystal Goicoechea, counselling support co-ordinator for Positive Living Niagara.

She said the safety committee focuses on bike safety while the interest group targets the social, health and informational aspect.

“The festival is something that we feel is very important to provide for the workers. They come here, they leave their families behind, and they work really, really hard to contribute to our community and to our economy.”

Goicoechea said the festival is a way to thank the workers for their contribution and hard work. Also important is ensuring the workers are aware of and are receiving the services they are entitled to, she said.

The Migrant Worker Interest Group has partnered with GateWay Community Church to hold a monthly information hub for the workers. The first one is June 9 from 4 to 7 p.m. and will serve as a pilot night, Goicoechea said.

“Recently partnered with GateWay, Pastor Michelle (Mercer) was really interested in assisting the migrant workers and was very generous in donating the space for the hub,” she said.

GateWay Community Church is a familiar place for many workers as a bike repair shop is located there, she added.

During the festival on Sunday, Virgil’s Bikes for Farmworkers raffled off 35 bikes for the workers.