By: Chelsea Tan
The Engineered Air Theatre at Arts Commons came alive with chatter as guests for the Filipino Youth Empowerment Program [YEP] launch filled the venue March 17.
The Youth Empowerment Program’s vision is to mobilize Filipino youth.
“YEP is a verb,” says Vangie Caoile, one of YEP’s founders at the launch event. “It’s a call for you to play, to dance, to draw, to paint, to dream, and to be proud of your differences, especially your similarities.”
The Philippine Festival Council of Alberta partnered with other Filipino groups in Calgary to strengthen youth involvement in the community. They began offering free monthly workshops on Filipino history, language, performing arts and leadership skills and more April 7 at the Arts Commons.
“The Filipino community is the fastest growing cultural community in Alberta,” says Dolly Castillo, a senior advisor and history teacher for the program. “. We want to put our community on the map, to create opportunities for our members, to celebrate and reflect on our common future, and to educate fellow Canadians of our important contributions to Canada’s vibrancy.”
Deputy Premier Sarah Hoffman and Minister of Human Services Irfan Sabir were in attendance.
“I believe that these programs create excellent opportunities for youth engagement and skill development,” says Sabir.
YEP was spearheaded by the leaders of Fiesta Filipino, which has seen 45,089 guests in four years and is the largest Filipino festival in
Fiesta Filipino organizers recognized the cultural disconnect between the Filipino-Canadian youth and their heritage, says Caoile, citing the lack of attendance and participation from that age group during the widely popular event.
YEP aims to bridge some of the cultural gaps for those who grew up in Canada and maintain the heritage of young immigrants. The goal is to help them recognize their capacity for community building and show them their elders understand and honour their blended identities as Filipino Canadians.
If you are interested in registering for a YEP workshop or know a youth member who could benefit from it, please visit YEP fiestafilipinoyyc.com and click on YEP from the top menu, or message the official Fiesta Filipino account @FiestaFilipinoYYC on Facebook if you have any other questions.