Mable endorses campaign for Benson Flores marker

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  • Mable Elmore is supporting the campaign to raise funds for a memorial marker for pioneer immigrant Benson Flores.

    Elmore is the Member of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia for Vancouver-Kensington, which is also home to Mountain View Cemetery where Flores is buried in an unmarked grave.

    MLA Elmore endorsed the fundraising campaign in a statement delivered on the floor of the B.C. legislative assembly on March 7, 2024.

    Flores lived on Bowen Island and died on April 11, 1929.

    “No one had probably visited his burial place until about a century afterwards, when community historian, Joseph Lopez, stood by his unmarked grave in 2021,” Elmore said on the floor of the House.

    “Through his research, Joseph Lopez established that Benson Flores was likely the earliest Filipino on record to have immigrated and lived in Canada,” Elmore also said.

    Lopez’s finding is significant as it provides additional knowledge about the history of Filipinos in B.C. and Canada.

    The information indicates that Filipinos have been arriving in Canada decades earlier than official historical accounts.

    Based on an official account by the government of Canada, people from the Philippines began immigrating to Canada in 1931 to work in the garment industry in the province of Manitoba.

    Benson was listed in the 1911 Census.
    In her statement at the B.C. legislative assembly on March 7, Elmore related that there is an ongoing

    GoFundMe campaign led by community journalist and author Ted Alcuitas for a marker on Flores’ grave.

    Alcuitas and Lopez are also behind a documentary film project about Flores.

    “I will ask all MLAs here and the community right across British Columbia to join in this effort for supporting the documentary film and to raise money for a tombstone to mark his place,” Elmore urged her B.C. MLA colleagues.

    The GoFundMe campaign is called “Benson Flores, first Filipino in Canada”.

    [Carlito Pablo is a staff member with the Vancouver-Kensington office of MLA Mable Elmore.]

    By Carlito Pablo

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