Rechie Valdez becomes first Filipino woman in Canadian Cabinet

Michelle Abad

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Rechie Valdez becomes first Filipino woman in Canadian Cabinet

FILIPINA-CANADIAN. Member of Parliament for Mississauga-Streetsville Rechie Valdez holds a Philippine flag in a photo commemorating Philippine Independence Day 2023.

Rechie Valdez' Facebook page

(1st UPDATE) The newly appointed Canadian Minister of Small Business says ‘Mabuhay’ before taking her oath of office

MANILA, Philippines – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed Filipina-Canadian Rechie Valdez as his small business minister on Wednesday, July 26, making her the first Filipino woman to become a part of the Canadian Cabinet.

Mabuhay,” an emotional Valdez said as she began to take her oath as a new Cabinet member on Wednesday. Trudeau was seen nodding his head after she opened her oath with the Filipino salutation.

The audience cheered as they watched Valdez passionately take the oath. Fighting back tears, Valdez finished: “I, Rechie Valdez, do solemnly and sincerely swear that I will truly and faithfully, and to the best of my skill and knowledge, execute the powers and trusts reposed in me, as minister [of] small business. So help me God.”

Valdez is Member of Parliament (MP) for Mississauga-Streetsville. She became the first Filipino woman to be elected as a Canadian MP in October 2021.

IMPASSIONED. Rechie Valdez wipes a tear as she is sworn in as Canada’s Minister of Small Business, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on, during a cabinet shuffle at Rideau Hall, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, on July 26, 2023. Blair Gable/Reuters

Trudeau overhauled much of his Cabinet on Wednesday, and changed or tweaked the job descriptions of about three-quarters of the positions compared with his previous Cabinet.

Valdez is a mother of two, an entrepreneur, and a former corporate banker. She is a baker who founded a Filipino fusion line of pastries stocked in two national Asian grocery chains in Mississauga, a city neighboring Toronto.

As MP, Valdez’ advocacies included fighting climate change, investing in women entrepreneurs, advancing pay-equity legislation, healthcare investment, and supporting first-time home buyers and small business owners.

The new minister is also the leader of Battle 416, a non-profit basketball festival of men’s, women’s, and youth basketball tournaments and music festivals in Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square.

Valdez became the second person of Filipino descent to become an MP – the first being Rey Pagtakhan of Winnepeg-North in 2004.

As of 2021, there were around 957,355 Canadians with Filipino roots, according to government data, making them a key constituency in Canada. – with a report from Reuters/

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Michelle Abad

Michelle Abad is a multimedia reporter at Rappler. She covers overseas Filipinos, the rights of women and children, and local governments.