Breaking: Alberta announces Filipino heritage program in schools

Premier Rachel Notley (right)celebrate with members of the Filipino community at the Pacific Hut Restaurant in Calgary to announce the launch of the program. (Photo: Rachel Notley Facebook)


Magkaroon na ng Filipino language and culture

By Ted Alcuitas

Alberta will be the second province in Canada to implement a Filipino heritage program in their schools next to Manitoba.

While Manitoba’s program launched last year, is from K-3, Alberta is from K-12.

Premier Rachel Notley made the announcement on Thursday (February 7) to expand Filipino language and culture programming to students in kindergarten to Grade 12.

“Creating a K-12 Filipino language and culture curriculum will ensure this vibrant community can continue to grow deep roots and make this province even greater,” the Premier says.

There are about 170,000 people of Filipino heritage in Alberta.

The declaration was called a “historic gift” ” by Dolly Castillo, a Filipino community leader quoted in a government press release.

“This strongly demonstrates the respect for a culture’s diversity and uniqueness through its language. Programs like this instill pride in students and their heritage, and results in active and engaged citizens,” she says in the release.

In 2017, the premier tasked Minister of Education David Eggen with hearing from people across Alberta about racism and preparing an anti-racism strategy for the province. During those conversations, people told him it was a sign of “respect and belonging” when Alberta schools offered alternative language and culture programs in schools.

“Providing learning opportunities for students in a variety of language programs helps youth maintain their heritage, strengthen their cultural identity and build language and literacy skills. Strengthening language programs based on local need and demand can be an effective tool in addressing racism. In fact, this is one of the ways we’re acting on the feedback we heard, and commitments we made, in our government’s anti-racism consultations and report,” say Eggen in the release.

Filipino language and culture curriculum is currently offered at the high school level as a locally developed course in some school jurisdictions, including Calgary Catholic School District, Edmonton Catholic Schools and St. Thomas Aquinas Roman Catholic Schools. After the new K-12 Filipino curriculum is developed, Alberta Education officials will work with stakeholders and community partners to identify resources to support the curriculum.

According to the government, the K-12 Filipino language and culture curriculum will not be mandatory. School authorities have choice and flexibility in offering language programming that best meets the needs of the communities they serve.

There are 26 other languages currently available for study in Alberta, Filipino being the ninth.

Members of the Filipino-Canadian Saranay Association of Alberta wait to perform during the 2018 Edmonton Filipino Fiesta in Borden Park, June 23, 2018. On Thursday the province announced it will develop a K-12 Filipino language and culture program, to be ready for interested schools by 2020. DAVID BLOOM / POSTMEDIA

Edmonton Catholic Schools offers Filipino classes in Grades 4-9 at Sister Annata Brockman School, which includes 95 hours a year of language and culture instruction. Holy Trinity Catholic High School in Mill Woods offers 125 hours of Filipino instruction in a year, reports The Edmonton Journal.

The Journal says there are 127 students registered in the classes as of September 2018, quoting school district spokeswoman Lori Nagy.

According to the 2016 census, the Filipino language of Tagalog was the second-most common mother tongue of people living in Edmonton, following English. The census tallied 32,355 Edmontonians with Tagalog as their first language, which is 3.5 per cent of the city’s population, reports the Edmonton Journal.

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