Marichu Antonio, a Filipino-Canadian, was named the city of Calgary’s 2020 Citizen of the Year at a city council meeting last June 21, 2021.
The city of Calgary described Antonio’s leadership as a leadership that is “felt in many city initiatives.”
“Marichu contributed to the Calgary’s Cultural Plan, Calgary Local Immigration Partnership, Calgary Arts Development’s Aisinna’kiiks Initiative, and Advocacy for Workers’ Rights,” wrote the City of Calgary officials as they described Antonio on their website.
“Marichu has helped elevate the work for communities and equity-seeking organizations towards social justice, human rights, and equality for all citizens,” they added.
Antonio is an advocate of racial justice, social change, and Calgary’s culturally diverse communities.
She was the Executive Director of ActionDignity (originally the Ethno-Cultural Council of Calgary) for 12 years. ActionDignity is a forum for over 100 ethnocultural groups that encourages collaboration in the pursuit of more equitable policies and culturally responsive services.
In response to COVID-19, Antonio co-founded the Multilingual Emergency Response Center (MERC) or the Multilingual Hotline, which provides help in 24 languages.
Antonio is also a key part of the Calgary East Zone Newcomers Collaborative (CENC), which provided food, financial, and mental health support to 12,400 COVID-affected Calgarians.
Aside from Calgary’s Citizen of the Year award, Antonio is also a recipient of the 2012 Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal and Avenue Magazine’s A-List of Volunteers in 2009 in recognition of her contributions towards strengthening communities. Antonio is the first Filipino-Canadian to receive this award.
The Calgary Awards, which have been held annually since 1994, honor Calgarians and local organizations for their exceptional achievements and substantial contributions to the community.