Toronto, Montreal &Edmonton celebrate first Filipino Heritage Month

The late Senator Tobias Enverga, Jr., the first Filipino to be appointed to the Senate of Canada celebrates Philippine Independence with Filipinos in Toronto. (Senate photo)

Filipinos across the country jubilant over proclamations

By Ted Alcuitas

Three cities across Canada are celebrating Filipino Heritage Month for the first time this year when their respective city councils approved proclamations.

First was the City of Toronto on November 8, 2017,  a year after Paulina Corpuz started the campaign. One of the largest cities in Canada declared the first annual Filipino Heritage Month in the month of June.

Montreal followed with the approval on  February 12, 2018 by the Borough Council meeting of Cote-des-Neiges/Notre- Dame-des-Grace of the motion by Councillor Marvin Rotrand to declare the month June as Filipino Heritage Month.

The City of Edmonton approved their proclamation on June 1, 2018.



By: Paulina Corpuz

Prime mover of the Filipino Heritage Month campaign. A social justice and community Advocate.


Paulina Corpuz

The journey of the Filipino Heritage Month in Toronto

November 2016 – One fateful evening, I bumped into a friend, Laura Casselman, in a UFCW Canada –AWA Award (United Food and Commercial Workers) event. I was talking to Laura and briefly mentioned about the idea of a Heritage Month for the Filipino community. Coincidentally, an NDP MPP was present in the event and Laura introduced me to her, MPP Theresa Armstrong. She was the NDPOntario’s Immigration critic at the time. I seized the opportunity to briefly discuss with her the idea of the Filipino Heritage Month and why it is important for our Filipino community to have it declared. I was asked to connect with her. The campaign was on.

December 2016 to February 2017 – A series of emails and conversations, to and from, happened. Setting up the meeting with MPP Theresa Armstrong took a long time until she was reassigned to another portfolio. In the meantime, conversations were happening with the community.

Another series of scheduling and emailing happened until we finally met MPP Jennifer French who was the newly assigned Immigrant critic of NDP Ontario. Another round of consultations happened. The result and the best option to move this campaign forward was to do a petition.

June 2017 – The first petition was written and signatures were gathered at the June 12, 2017 Philippine Independence event at the PhilippineConsulate of Toronto’s Philippine IndependenceDay event on June 13, 2017. The weekend after that, Paulina collected signatures at the Salo-salo sa Earl Bales park event of PIDC (Philippine Independence Day Council). Paulina went from one table to another, from one group to another, talking face-to-face individually with people at the park, asking for their support to sign the petition. About 200 signatures were gathered.

Unfortunately, the petition’s format, according to the Legislative Assembly Ontario’s requirements, was not acceptable. Another petition was circulated for signature. Again, Paulina Corpuz went from one event to another, during the summer of 2017 (Canada 150 Parade, Taste of Manila, PIDC Mabuhay Cup, PIDC Mabuhay Festival and other events), talked face-to-face with people to ask for their signature. Filipino Workers Network members, Toni Eyre, Josh Cuasay, Ben Corpuz and Rafunzel Korngut helped in gathering signatures.

It was frustrating to listen to reasons why Filipino Heritage Month cannot be successful: the Filipinos are not united; someone has done it before; we already celebrate festivals, practically, the whole year round; etc. Some simply ignored and did not care about it. The younger generation was easier to deal with. They get it. They understand the importance of a Filipino Heritage month.

All through the summer, Paulina with Ben continued to gather signatures with the help of the Philippine Advancement Through Arts and Culture (PATAC).

October 21, 2017 Councilor Neethan Shan of Toronto Ward 42, Scarborough Rouge River, called for a Filipino Workers consultation. In that consultation, Paulina shared her campaign about the Filipino Heritage Month and the challenges she was facing with it. Councilor Shan offered to bring this to the City of Toronto Council.

November 2017 – Twelve days after, on November 2, 2017, Paulina received a call from the Office of Councilor Neethan Shan about a motion being prepared by Councilor Shan to be tabled on November 8. An email was likewise received from Catholic Trustee Garry Tanuan regarding this motion to support Councilor Neethan Shan.

Paulina and Ben Corpuz frantically reached out to their network, their friends and colleagues to ask for assistance and submit endorsement letters to the Clerk of the City of Toronto. A copy of the signed petition was also forwarded to the Councilor office, in case more proof is needed. For three days, phone calls and email went out to friends and colleagues. It was a very tight deadline. Seventy-seven (77) individuals and organizations responded to the call and endorsed the motion.

On November 8, 2017, a year after Paulina started the campaign, a milestone victory was won. One of the largest cities in Canada declared the first annual Filipino Heritage Month in the month of June.

The motion also recommended that the provincial and federal governments declare June as Filipino Heritage Month.


Another chapter begins. The campaign for Ontario reboot.

The Toronto City Council’s unanimously voted to declare June as Filipino Heritage Month in 2018 and future years.

The victorious campaign caught the attention of the Liberal Party, the New Democratic Party and the Progressive Conservative Party.

The game begins with the three political parties declaring their strong support to the Filipino Heritage Month but are not willing to jointly support a Filipino Heritage bill.

Progressive Conservatives moved for an unanimous consent but was thwarted by a “NO” vote. In the wake of this, NDP approached Paulina to ask her input and comment on a Private Members bill that will be forwarded by NDP MPP Peter Tabuns.

Progressive Conservative MPP Raymond Cho also submitted his own Private members’ bill, after a failed attempt in gaining unanimous consent. The Liberal Party called for consultation. Paulina attended. MPP Mike Colle also submitted his private member’s bill. By the end of the year, the three political parties had their own Filipino Heritage Month bill on the table, yet, were not willing to work together to give the Filipino community its due recognition and acknowledgement of their contribution to Ontario. What a political game, with each  party forwarding their bill but was playing political games at the expense of the Filipino community.

Right now, we are at the cusp of a provincial election. One private member’s bill remains in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, Bill 10 forwarded by Liberal MPP Mike Colle.

The fight is still on.

First Philippine Heritage Month  in Montreal

As reported by the Pilipino Star

Philippine Ambassadord to Canada Petronila P. Garcia.

The Filipino community of Filipino Canadian community in Montreal and suburbs is preparing to celebrate the initial recognition of June as the Filipino Heritage month, with an opening ceremony scheduled on Sunday, 03 June at 10h00 at the Centre Communautaire , 6767 Cote- des-Neiges (across Cote des Neiges Plaza) that will include opening remarks by Philippine Ambassador to Canada Petronila P. Garcia and Councillor Marvin Rotrand.

Entertainment numbers featuring local Filipino artists, exhibits showcasing Philippine products, and Philippine dishes. There will be ongoing weekly activities for the rest of June. Federal, provincial and municipal government officials as well as community leaders will also be in attendance.


In Edmonton Annie Chua – Frith  reports.

Annie Chua-Frith with Alberta Minister of Health, Sarah Hoffman

The initial roll out of this Proclamation will be at two Filipino events this weekend. Minister Sarah Hoffman, who is in charge of the Filipino community, will have the first public announcement at the 120th Independence Day Gala of the Congress of the Philippine Associations of Alberta (COPA) tonight, Saturday at the Four Points Sheraton, 7230 Argyll Road.May 31, 2018.

We would not be here if it were not for the initiative of someone. There is no Filipino Heritage Month celebration today if nobody started and supported it. A tree grows from a seed. It started with an idea, the seed. What was the idea? Filipino Heritage Month.

The Deputy Premier’s office informed us on June 1, 2018, that Premier Rachel Notley and the Lieutenant Governor Lois Mitchell have signed the proclamation making the month of June as Philippine Heritage Month in perpetuity.

Initial roll out of the announcement will occur in two events happening this weekend both in Edmonton and Calgary.

This is the provincial recognition that we have worked for and we applaud and thank everyone for all your patience and support. We will inform you of plans at the Legislature. Mabuhay ang Filipino sa Alberta!

Minister Sarah Hoffman, who is in charge of the Filipino community, will have the first public announcement at the 120th Independence Day Gala of the Congress of the Philippine Associations of Alberta (COPA) tonight, Saturday at the Four Points Sheraton, 7230 Argyll Road.





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