TORONTO COUNCIL VOTES: June is Filipino Heritage Month in Toronto

Community News & Features Nov 10, 2017 at 5:36 pm
Councillor Neethan Shan, Ward 42, Scarborough-Rouge River

Councillor Neethan Shan, Ward 42, Scarborough-Rouge River

By Ysh Cabana

TORONTO–The Toronto City Council voted to designate June as Filipino Heritage Month on Wednesday, November 8.

With 41 ‘Yes’ votes and no dissent, the motion in council meeting received unanimous support across various political persuasions.

“I congratulate all those individuals and organizations within the Filipino community in Toronto and around Canada that have been working for a long time for this day to happen,” said Councillor Neethan Shan (Ward 42, Scarborough-Rouge River), who brought the motion to council at the request of a number of people, including the Filipino Workers Network.

The motion recommends that the Council officially proclaim the particular month as it coincides with the Philippine Independence Day on June 12. It also calls for the provincial government of Ontario and the Canadian federal government to join as well.

A petition was started last year in the Filipino community calling for a declaration for a Filipino Heritage Month.

Several others backed the move by writing letters to the City Clerk office, which facilitates the Council in making a decision. Shan described this process as “historic.” He said it marks the first time that such proposal for Filipino Heritage Month is passed at any level of government in Canada.

“I am very pleased that today City Council supported my motion and decided to give back to Filipino Canadians by recognizing their important contributions to our city, and their many years of hard work that has greatly improved our quality of life here in Toronto, across the province and the country,” Shan added.

These initiatives come after reports from the 2016 Census show data on the rise in Filipino citizens and permanent residents making a significant change in the Canadian landscape, most notably with Tagalog as the language many Filipinos speak. Statistics show that between the years 2011 and 2016, use of Tagalog has increased by 35 per cent, the fastest growing mother tongue in the country. It corresponds directly to immigration patterns – the top source country for permanent residents is currently the Philippines and has been for years.

Filipinos are the fastest-growing group in Canada. More than 800,000 trace their heritage to the Philippines. Most people of Filipino descent live in urban areas.

While the Council made the preliminary decision on the motion on Wednesday, the City is yet to make a formal declaration on this matter, as of press time.