by Adonis Fernandez
While I was making a leisurely research on the history of Winnipeg’s Manila Road and Dr. Jose Rizal Way, I chanced upon an interesting (oral) research presentation by Kelly Philip (a professor at York University) regarding the “social mobility of the children of immigrants.” The research was delivered on October 20, 2011, at the Parliament Hill (Ottawa).
The research focused on assessing the integration of new immigrants (Chinese, Filipinos, other Asians, and other visible minority groups) into the Canadian society. The assessment was measured based on the rate of university degree holdership of second-generation children (children of immigrant parents) versus that of their parents. For, as Kelly suggested, it is degree holdership that mirrors the aspirations and goals of the second generation and paves the way for better opportunity and mobility.
The key findings of the research may be outlined by the following propositions: 1) there’s a general pattern by which the second-generation children outperformed their parents on degree holdership; 2) in Toronto, Hamilton, and Vancouver, parents outperformed their children on degree holdership; 3) in Winnipeg, second-generation Filipinos followed the general pattern of outperforming their parents on degree holdership. The two latter findings were the ones that created a particular interest because while the general pattern occurred to all other visible minorities in Canada, it did and did occur to Filipinos at the same time, at least geographically. This, Kelly considered a “puzzle.”
Putting forth “geographic lenses,” Kelly attributed the puzzle surrounding the integration of the Filipino community into the Canadian society to four aspects: 1) geography of source countries, 2) geography of Canadian diversity, 3) neighbourhood geography, and 4) geography of home and family. His analysis brought to light the reason many Filipinos in Winnipeg integrate better into the Canadian society than do those in Toronto, Hamilton, and Vancouver.
While Filipinos in Toronto, Hamilton, Vancouver, and Winnipeg were generally parallel in the aspect of geography of source countries, Filipinos in Winnipeg were superior in the aspect of geography of Canadian diversity, neighborhood geography, and geography of home and family.
As for the geography of source countries, Filipinos in the four cities shared the same situation: there was a high level of “de-professionalization,” having subordinate positions, high process of de-skilling, and concentration in survival type of jobs among Filipino immigrants despite their success in integrating into the Canadian society; and the lack of prominent role models for Filipinos. As a result, pride, self-esteem, and aspiration of the next-generation Filipinos are low.
Geography in Canadian diversity, on the other hand, shows that many Filipinos in Winnipeg are prominent in public while Filipinos in the three other cities are less prominent. What makes Filipino Winnipeggers prominent? The large number of Filipinos in the community, their having role models in various fields (elected politicians such as Councilor Mike Pagtakhan, MLA Flor Marcelino, and MLA Ted Marcelino; singers like Mimosa Duot, April Llave, Maria Aragon; pioneering community and business leaders like Dr. Rey Pagtakhan, Rod Cantiveros, and Cora Sangalang; bands that play original music like Immortal Sacrament, Casting the Circle, and haLf man haLf eLf; and radio announcers like Lucille Nolasco, Donna Natividad-Arenas, and Chester Pangan), their community activities (Folklorama, Filipino night during Blue Bombers game, and Manila to Manitoba Exhibit), and the fact that of the Filipino immigrants that arrived only about three percent are through the live-in caregiver program. This prominence in public life makes it easier for the second generation to aim high and pursue their aspirations—as in aim and aspire for university degrees. Conversely, this case does not happen in the same extent to Filipinos in Toronto, Hamilton, and Vancouver.
As for the neighborhood geography, Filipino Winnipeggers being highly concentrated in the West End of downtown and North End of the city means that they have better access to available opportunities of education and employment. It means also that their dominance and their having culturally specific neighborhood result to greater confidence of the next generation; it results to a better outcome for the youth. On the other hand, Filipinos in the three other cities are dispersed across the urban region.
As for the geography of home and family, due largely through the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program, many Filipinos in Winnipeg have better family ties than those in Toronto and Vancouver have (where 40% of the immigrants arrived through the live-in caregiver program). This family ties has an effect on the aspiration and aims of the second generation. Also, low-income parents usually produce low-income second generation.
With the above delineations, two neat conclusions can then be drawn: 1) the kind of community that Filipinos have in Winnipeg fosters an environment of confidence, empowerment, resilience, and more importantly, ambitions. Hence, an upward mobility for the second generation in which they outperform their parents on university degree holdership or in which they compensate for their parents’ “de-professionalization”; 2) Winnipeg is a model for new immigrant integration. The greater tendency of Filipinos in Winnipeg to engage in community activities is a significant contributing factor to their ability to integrate into the Canadian society despite identifiable social, cultural, educational, political, and geographical roadblocks.
In spite of our high taxes, our oft-broadcasted violence-prone community, our extreme weather conditions, and our being in the “lesser” city, we can still raise our heads up and claim that we live in the best city in Canada in terms of opportunities to shine, to have better lives, to pursue public prominence, and make a difference.
Note: For a better understanding and assimilation of Philip’s oral presentation, you can visit this link http://vimeo.com/31370814.
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