Strong ties to culture makes newcomers feel welcome, NDP candidate Valencia also says
By Charmaine Y. Rodriguez
Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley committed to restarting the development of a Filipino language and culture curriculum if voted into government in the general elections in May.
The curriculum will be for schools who want to offer Filipino language and culture classes, according to NDP MLA and education critic Sarah Hoffman, according to a report by the Calgary Herald.
Hoffman revealed that the curriculum was in the works during the previous NDP government’s tenure but was cancelled by the UCP when it was elected in 2019.
“I’m proud of the work that the previous NDP government did on the curriculum and that included the commitment to developing a Filipino language and culture curriculum for the province,” Hoffman said at a press conference on Friday at Calgary’s Centre for Newcomers recently.
“In addition to English and French, there are currently 26 other languages available for students to study in Alberta. Having language options available as part of Alberta’s curriculum is vital to a robust culture and function for our province,” she added.
Desirey Juan, a parent from south Calgary who spoke at the press conference, wished her two daughters will have the opportunity to learn Tagalog and Filipino culture in school.
Her family arrived in Canada last year and she said she was disappointed to learn the only school that offers Tagalog lessons was in north Calgary.
She believes being bilingual allows for greater involvement in the community, benefits the economy and creates job opportunities.
Notley said giving families access to the best curriculum for their kids is an essential job of any government.
“That’s why we started the work to develop and introduce a Filipino language and culture curriculum,” said Notley. “It will ensure this vibrant community can continue to grow deep roots and to make this province even greater.”
“We will work with the Filipino community to develop and implement this curriculum in our first term,” she promised.
According to 2021 census data, Alberta has the second-highest population of Filipino Canadians in the country, with a total of more 216,000. They represent 5.2 per cent of the province’s population.
Rosman Valencia, NDP candidate for Calgary-East, said he moved to Calgary from the Philippines in 2015, studied at the University of Calgary and became a teacher.
“Having strong ties to my culture made me feel welcome,” said Valencia. “I want want to ensure those opportunities are available to the next generation of Filipino Albertans, as we are one of the fastest-growing ethnocultural communities in the province,” he said in the same report.