On October 30th the House of Commons in Ottawa voted on motion “Motion- 155” and it passed with the support of every member meaning all political parties recognized the motion’s importance. The motion in Ottawa was better known as recognizing “Filipino Heritage Month”.
The debate began on October 1 with the following words. “That, in the opinion of the House, the government should recognize the contributions that Filipino-Canadians have made to Canadian society, the richness of the Filipino language and culture, and the importance of reflecting upon Filipino heritage for future generations by declaring June, every year, Filipino Heritage Month.”
Salma Zahid the MP for Scarborough Centre in Ontario was the Member of Parliament who sponsored the motion and I would note that more members spoke to that motion than any other private members motion that I am aware of, as there was a great deal of interest.
Liberal MP Salma Zahid stated “I am privileged to rise today to move my private member’s motion, Motion No. 155, which speaks to officially designating the month of June as Filipino heritage month across Canada from coast to coast to coast. I do this on behalf of a vibrant and dynamic Filipino Canadian community that is proud of its culture and heritage and equally proud of its new home, Canada, a community that makes immeasurable contributions to Canadian life from coast to coast to coast. This is borne out by the 2016 census from Statistics Canada, which shows Filipinos are the fastest growing ethnic group in Canada”
Conservative MP Deepak Obhrai stated “Let me say, as my hon. colleague mentioned, that in 2015, the Filipino community became the largest community of permanent residents in this country. As a matter of fact, when I accompanied former prime minister Harper on his visit to the Philippines, he mentioned that Tagalog is the fastest-growing language in Canada. As I have stated, the Filipino contribution to our country is immense, and we are extremely happy that it forms a part of the great multi-ethnic mosaic of Canada.”
NDP MP Jenny Kwan stated “The Philippines has consistently been a top source country for newcomers to Canada for years. In 2016, it was the number one source country with over 40,000 new permanent residents to Canada. Large, vibrant and flourishing communities have been established in Toronto, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Calgary and my home city of Vancouver. In my time in municipal, provincial and now federal politics, I have had the opportunity to engage with Vancouver’s Filipino community and now with communities across the country. To say that this community contributes to Canadian society would be a massive understatement.”
The motion states “the importance of reflecting upon Filipino heritage for future generations by declaring June, every year, Filipino Heritage Month”. As a nation we are being encouraged to better understand the many contributions that our Filipino community has made and to encourage that we cherish and promote our Canadian/Filipino heritage, particularly in the month of June.
For years Winnipeg has been doing just that because of the excellent work of many Filipino organizations. Without naming people or organizations, I would like to reference activities like, raising the Philippine Flag, fiestas in the park, banquets, shows, activities in schools and community centers, recognizing Philippines Independence Day, week long activities and of coarse the 2018 Filipino street festival.
The motion was debated for two hours in total and had a formal vote on October 30th. On October 31 within the Parliamentary precinct the Philippine Ambassador to Canada Petronila Garcia delivered a wonderful speech to Members of Parliament and many community members that came out to acknowledge the passing of the motion. The Ambassador talked about the growing Filipino community here in Canada and reminded us all how the community contributes to Canada’s diversity and the special relationship between Canada and Philippines.
June 2019 will be extra special as it will be the first time that all regions of Canada will be encouraged to celebrate and promote our Filipino-Canadian Heritage.