From her home in the Philippines to a new life in Saskatchewan to the inner city of Toronto, Gene Lara will be remembered as a community champion who was not only an effective advocate, but also a dedicated mother and grandmother. Gene passed away peacefully on Monday, April 1, with her family at her side.
The condolences, prayers and thoughts of the Board and Staff of the Wellesley Institute are with Gene’s family and friends. She was a valued partner and a thoughtful supporter of our work; and she was not afraid to call authorities to account when required.
Gene was always a pioneer, from her days in the Philippines when she led a program promoting self-help projects for women in the countryside, to her participation in the Second and Third World Women’s Conferences. Gene and her husband arrived in Canada in 1981 on a cold winter day, and she quickly became a community advocate and activist.
Gene became executive director of the Immigrant Women of Saskatchewan and, following her husband’s death, she moved to Toronto to become executive director of Intercede; a social service agency fighting for the workplace rights of domestic caregivers. Gene revived the Silayan Centre that served newcomers in St Jamestown, Regent Park and Cabbagetown, and became a founding board member of the St Jamestown Tenants Network. She was an active and engaging member of the St Jamestown community and the wider Filipino community in Toronto.
Visitation will be held Friday, with a funeral mass on Saturday. More details are available here.