Updated: June 30, 2020, 6 AM

Vancouver, B.C.

The son of a high school dropout, he will proceed to a Master’s Program

Mildred German

Unceded Territories – Canadian born and raised queer Filipino youth and community advocate, William Canero, graduates with a B.A in Political Science from the University of British Columbia (UBC). He wrote his thesis on the topic of the Canadian garbage and toxic waste sent to the Philippines, which prompted Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to declare war against Canada in 2019. Canero has also received an offer to the Masters of Community and Regional Planning (MCRP) studies at UBC for the Fall 2020.

Canero was born to a Filipino railway worker who at the age of 17 worked at the now posh, infamous, and real-estate hotbed Railtown area of Vancouver. Faced with the  English language and systemic barriers to education many people of colour and immigrants face in Canada, William’s father was not able to finish high school.

Without higher education, and with an uncertain future in Canada, William’s father was able to find work at the Canadian railroads as a teenager in the 1970s with the help of his father, William’s grandfather, who immigrated to Canada in the 1960s.

William’s mother came to Canada in the 1990s, from the Philippines. A Chemical Engineer, William’s mother, also faced the systemic barriers and racism in Canada. Her education accreditation was not recognised.

Education however has been one of the major priorities and core values of many Filipino families. Most Filipino parents believe education is an intangible wealth, or a “pamana” they can pass to their children to secure their future. In fact, many Filipino parents cross seas to work in foreign countries under poor and exploitative working conditions, unbearable isolation, and family separation not only to provide food and shelter, but also higher education.

With barriers after barriers and further marginalization of the Filipino community, Canada has also witnessed the high school dropout rates of the Filipino youth. Particularly, with the experiences of many Filipino youth of bullying, poverty, and systemic racism in Canada and its institutions, it was not surprising that UBC Professor Geraldine Pratt, Department of Geography, found in her past research Filipino youth have one of the highest dropout rate in Vancouver schools then, next to the Indigenous youth. Similar results of high Filipino youth school dropouts rate also have been found in other major cities in Canada. 

The shared experiences of the Filipino community in navigating the education system in Canada have been historically filled with barriers after barriers including in the systemic level. With systemic racism, the highly-skilled and highly-educated Filipinos from the English-speaking country of the Philippines have faced the racist English language barriers, lack of accreditation, deskilling, low wages, and financial constraints, which result in the further marginalization of the Filipino community in Canada.

As COVID-19 pandemic sheds a lot of systemic racism, there remain many social changes and actions to be done to tackle the issues of systemic racism, hate crimes, and the issues affecting Filipinos and BIPOC communities in Canada. For this reason, and more, Canero will be pursuing Masters and Grad school at UBC in the School of Community Regional Planning, with the guidance of Filipino-Canadian UBC Associate Professor Leonora Angeles. Canero will be focusing on implementing social programs for the BIPOC communities, including the creations of cultural and Indigenous centres.

Let’s all wish Canero the best in his studies. Congratulations!