The Filipino community is the fastest growing ethno-cultural community in Alberta and in Canada. It is also one the most diverse in terms of generations, languages, professional backgrounds and cultural traditions. For decades now, Filipinos have been contributing significantly to the economic, social and cultural landscape of the province and the country. In Alberta alone, more than 170,000 identify themselves as Filipinos. And yet, the community does not seem to get the recognition it deserves and has earned.
This will start to change if the petitions to recognize Philippine-Canadian heritage are successful. Several groups have approached the governments in Alberta, Canada and other provinces to designate Philippine-Canadian Heritage months. Their purposes are similar – to put the community on the map, to create opportunities for members of the community to celebrate and most importantly, to educate other Canadians of the important contributions to Canada’s vibrant economy and society.
What can happen if these petitions are successful and a Philippine-Canadian Heritage month is declared? To start, the community can bring activities and programs into schools, profile Filipino-Canadians as role models, launch education campaigns about the community’s important roles in creating a strong and welcoming Canada.
The Philippine Festival Council of Alberta started the ball rolling by launching a joint petition with other organizations at the June 2017 Independence Day celebration in Wetaskawin. As of this writing, almost 3,000 individuals have affixed their signatures to the formal petition. An on line campaign has recently been launched by groups led by the Philippine Arts Council. Ultimately, what is important is that a formal declaration is made by the provincial government to recognize the contributions of Filipino-Canadians. And that we take advantage of this opportunity to deepen the impact of our work in the community. It will serve the best interest of the community if these and other similar initiatives can join forces and come together as collective efforts.