Filipino Heritage Month spreads across Canada

Community News & Features Apr 27, 2018 at 3:20 pm
Filipino Heritage Month-Calgary

Filipino Heritage Month-Calgary

‘To put the community in the map’

By Ysh Cabana
The Philippine Reporter

Some Alberta Filipinos urge the month of September to be declared Philippine-Canadian Heritage Month in the Canadian province. Organizers of Calgary-based Fiesta Filipino annual cultural festival submitted their petition Saturday March 17.

Senior adviser Dolly Castillo made the official announcement as the group launched the inaugural Youth Empowerment Program, which was attended by idistinguished guested including Albertaa Deputy Premier Sarah Hoffman, Member of Legislative Assembly Irfan Sabir (Calgary-McCall) and Philippine Consul General to Calgary Julius D. Torres.

“The Filipino community is the fastest growing ethnocultural community in Alberta and in Canada. Its also one of the most diverse, in terms of generations, languages, professional backgrounds and cultural traditions,” said Castillo, adding Filipinos have long been contributing to the “richness” of the province and country.

“Filipinos in Alberta constitute an important segment of the province’s entrepreneurial, labour and professional force in all areas of the economy,” she added.

According to the 2016 census data, the prairie province is home to 170,000 -strong Filipino population, which has taken a significant share of immigrant population across generations.
For young Filipino Canadians, the proclamation of a Philippine-Canadian heritage month is a source of celebration “to put the community in the map.”

“We are Filipinos our colour says so. Our nannies say so. Our parents and older relatives say so. But we are also Canadians, many of us were born here. Many of us grew up here from when we were very young. Many of us identify what is Canadian. What does it mean to have these identities inside you?” said one of the youth presenters.

The petition collected more than 2,000 signatories since Fiesta Filipino council started rallying June 2017, according to Castillo. The council presented its proposal to MLA Sarah Hoffman, also Alberta’s deputy minister in a March 19 meeting.

“We are closing the circle on the process we started in the past year. But we also recognize similar petitions have been launched by other committed members of the community,” said Castillo recognizing the “difference in tactics” as other cities push for the June Filipino Heritage Month proclamation across Canada.

Filipino Heritage Month-02 Edmonton

Filipino Heritage Month-02 Edmonton

Edmonton motion

Meanwhile, Cecilia Camba of Edmonton signed the online petition entitled “Alberta Legislature to Declare June as Philippine Heritage Month” on change.org. For Camba, June is the “most reasonable” as the anniversary of the country’s independence falls in that month.

“It is important that we preserve our Filipino Heritage even though we are living in a different country. As we retain our culture and heritage in Alberta, the younger generations will greatly appreciate not only the awareness of their roots but also the utilization of what we are preserving for the benefit of themselves and the future generations,” wrote Camba.

Over fifty community members in the northern Alberta city gathered for a community consultation on March 5.

The proposal consultation was participated by Minister of Labour Christina Gray (Edmonton-Mill Woods), MLA Nicole Goehring (Edmonton-Castle Downs) and Rodrigo Loyola (Edmonton-Ellerslie). The three parliamentarians, together with the Edmonton-based Philippine Arts Council put up the online petition in an effort to build up on the legislation that was initially approved in the province of Ontario.
Asked how locals have responded on the ongoing multiple petitions, Marietta Pangan of Diaryo Filipino shared both cities of Calgary and Edmonton rallies have been picked up positively. “Different organizations and groups where I’m part of are doing their part—from getting signatures, sending letters of petitions to MLAs to using multi media platforms (online, radio, tv, social media and print) to spread awareness,” Pangan wrote in an email to The Philippine Reporter.

Talks are planned between Edmonton- and Calgary-based organizing committees to seek agreement on the Filipino Heritage Month will be pushed for declaration. “We are hoping that we move forward as we are also celebrating the 120 years of Philippine Independence. It is just appropriate and makes sense,” said community leader Marco Luciano.

Montreal rolls along

In Quebec, the popular resolution was also picked up in a Montreal borough council. The motion to declare June as Philippine Heritage Month was adopted unanimously at a meeting in February. Snowdon councilor Marvin Rotrand put forward the motion, which was seconded by Darlington councilor and Montreal’s official opposition leader Lionel Perez.

“The community has experienced continuous growth within the borough since the 1960s and their presence has helped to make Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grâce a good place to live,” said Rotrand.
Rotrand highlighted that Montreal’s most populous borough has half of Quebec’s 35,000 Filipinos with numerous businesses, sports, cultural and recreational clubs and other organizations.

Toronto raps

In Queens Park, Member of the Provincial Parliament (MPP) Mike Colle (Eglinton-Lawrence) reintroduced Filipino Heritage Month Act, or Bill 10, before the Legislative Assembly of Ontario on Tuesday March 20, following the  prorogation of the legislature and the start of a new parliamentary sitting. Colle declared his commitment “to seek cooperation from members from Opposition parties to ensure that June will be recognized as Filipino Heritage Month in Ontario” in a statement.

The City of Toronto became the first government in Canada to officially create a heritage month for Filipinos in November 2017. Responding the need to brainstorm how activities would be carried out in the city, a June-Filipino Heritage Month Working Group (JFHMWG) was formed earlier this month.

Nez Lacdao, JFHMWG convener and youth organizer, said the group would like to be more inclusive with a focus on young people who will pass on the torch to the next generations. Lacdao also invited the public to participate in the branding and logo design contest the youth is to spearhead.

A call for artists to design the logo for the activities is ongoing. The inaugural celebration in Toronto is slated in June 2018.