Loly Rico Announced as the 2017 Spirit of Barbra Schlifer Award Recipient
By Carolina Teves
Loly Rico, founder and co-director of FCJ Refugee Centre, is the 2017 recipient of “The Spirit of Barbra Shlifer Award”. An award dedicated to a woman who is set on improving the lives of women effected by violence. Even with a number of other awards dedicated to her Being the 2017 recipient of this award is very special to Loly “it is very special to me because the Barbra Schlifer award has a lot of meaning, not only to me but especially to women who have been in situations of violence”.
The Barbra Shlifer Clinic was where Loly would refer people looking for interpreters, support, etc. When she first started working with uprooted women. Loly and her Husband Francisco founded FCJ Refugee Centre in 1991, a year after they came to Canada from El Salvador as refugees. They Started the Centre because of their own experiences while coming to Canada, “We were at a refugee house when we came to Canada, and we felt so welcomed. We wanted to have a place of our own where people coming to this country felt welcomed and safe just as we did”.
At the time FCJ opened, they were the only organisation that was housing refugee women and children in particular. When asked what her greatest achievement has been (other than her children and grandchildren) Loly says “it’s the creation of a place where people from all around the world can come and feel at home, it’s a space for them, where they can have a voice once again as well as a place where anybody can come and learn about the issues and situations of people in the world today.
Q: How are feeling about winning this award.
A: It is very special because I didn’t know and it was a very nice surprise, that the people at the office nominated me. It is very special because the Barbra Schlifer award has a lot of meaning, especially for woman who have been in situations of violence. For me, it has a special meaning because when I came to Canada 27 years ago, and I learned English, that was my first job, doing interpretations, and it was one of the first places I went to try to do connections, networking, because I started working with women and referring them, if they needed interpreters, etc. for me it has a big meaning?
Q: What does it mean this award to you?
A: I have received a few awards. Every award has a different meaning, but this is very important because it is kind of the pulled together of all the human rights issues, the gender violence issues. I think all my life I have worked to become a feminist, to keep making changes in the system where every human being, and especially the ones coming from a very vulnerable situation, so the ones who have always been minimized, women and people from the LGBTQ community, we try to make changes to support them and to help them, and not so much to help them but more so that they can have their rights and have a voice.
Q: What made you start FCJ Refugee Centre in 1991?
A: Ohhh because we came in 1991 as refugees, and we were given the house for refugees, there was a house for refugees. It was a place where we were wlcome and we want to welcome women and children and also because we want to welcome women and children aswell as other refugee claimants, and our ide ato open the doors for women was to give them their own space. At that time we were the only organisation that was housing refugee claimants (woman) and their children and was to regain teir community and that’s why we started, in 1991.
Q: If you had to recall one of your main achievements of your career?
A: My main achievement, oh my god. Well the centre means a lot because it is not work it is a lifestyle and it is my passion, my life and one of the things is that, well one of my main achievements is of course being “mama” and I am a grandmother that is my second one. In my life it is something, the production of the FCJ refugee centre, it’s a place that I wish we could have all around the world, that is to welcome everybody, it is also a space we have for people to learn about peoples situations and issues, but it is also a place that we provide for people to come and bring back their voice and their rights and that is why we have a strong youth leadership group as well as a strong women in houses and residents. And they have various problems of advocacy. And one of the things that I see that achievement also is that I think that through the centre living in the centre with my kids, and my husband, the kids have been learning a lot about how to do social changes, and that is their life, one way or another they help.
Q: What would your message be to the community after achieving this award?
A: Well, ahhhh, that we need to continue making changes, I think that our target is to have a society without violence. Free of violence, free of injustice, free of all the “isms” we cannot do it one day, or in a year and in that case everything that we do, we need to do changing the life, changing the life of one person, will start pushing change on the system that has been oppression the person and I think that thbis is a long range work but I invite everybody that we can work together to make that change.
Loly Rico, co-director has been awarded with “The Spirit of Barbra Shlifer Award 2017”. An award dedicated to a woman who is set on improving the lives of women effected by violence. Even with a number of other awards dedicated to her Being the 2017 recipient of this award is very special and important to Loly because the Barbra Shlifer award has a lot of meaning for her, not only to women who have been in situations of violence also it is kind of the pulled together of all the human rights issues, the gender violence issues. She has worked hard to become a feminist, to make changes in the system where every human being, and especially those who come from a very vulnerable situation, so who have always been minimized, women and people from the LGBTQ community, Her husband Francisco and she started the FCJ Refugee Centre in base to their own experiences while come to Canada, They wanted to have a place of their own where people coming to this country felt welcomed and safe just as they. Currently, they are working to make changes to support and to help newcomers. Likewise they can have their rights.