Monday, March 02, 2009

Filipino Youth Demand Social Justice, Unite and Advance the Struggle Against Systemic Racism!

Ugnayan ng Kabataang Pilipino sa Canada/ Filipino-Canadian Youth Alliance National Statement

Filipino Youth Demand Social Justice, Unite and Advance the Struggle Against Systemic Racism!

For Immediate Release - February 27, 2009

On February 28, 2009 – On this day, we gather together on our 2nd Annual National Day of Action calling for Social Justice for Filipino Youth. Ugnayan ng Kabataan Pilipino sa Canada/ Filipino-Canadian Youth Alliance extends our sympathies and condolences to the Filipino families across Canada who have lost loved ones to violence. In particular, we commemorate the lives of Mao Jomar Lanot, Jeffrey Reodica, Deeward Ponte and Charle Dalde.

In Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal concerned Filipino-Canadians, organizations and community supporters are holding vigils, masses, marches, film showings, and discussions to address the issue of systemic racism faced by Filipino youth and the community.

January 2009 marked the one year death anniversary of Deeward Ponte who was stabbed in Vancouver’s Grays Park, and later died in the hospital. Only a few months after the death of Ponte, the community felt the loss of yet another young Filiipno, Charle Dalde, fatally stabbed outside of his Richmond home as a result of an untargeted killing.

Following his death was the traumatic and irreversible actions of the Richmond RCMP, who falsely assumed Dalde’s killing was gang related (a claim later proven false) and handcuffed Dalde’s parents and brother at gunpoint, searched their apartment and later denied the family access to Charle when he tragically passed away in the Richmond Hospital.

We see the actions of the Richmond RCMP as another case of racial profiling towards a family of color. Though the family has already filed complaints against the RCMP for the mishandling of their case and the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP has confirmed it will be conducting an independent review of the RCMP’s treatment towards the family. There has yet to be a public apology.

The losses of two Filipino youth only reminds us of 17 year old newly arrived Filipino youth, Jomar Lanot, who was beaten at the basketball courts of Sir Charles Tupper Secondary and later died in the hospital in 2003. We remember in 2004 the death of Jeffery Reodica, who was shot 3 times in the back by plain clothes police officers in Toronto. New experiences of racial profiling of communities of colour are emerging, and we only see this increasing as security and law enforcement expands to deal with the increase of alleged gang activity. While we recognize the need to address the violence in our streets, we anticipate that the tactics of the RCMP, if not corrected, will have a negative effect on a community composed of new immigrants and temporary workers. This will serve only to further criminalize members of the Filipino community, instead of recognizing the positive contributions the Filipino community has made culturally,
socially and economically.

Throughout Canada’s history, people of colour and immigrant communities have shaped Canada into the multicultural and diverse country we know it today. But it has not been without struggle and resistance. Indigenous people in Canada have struggled for their right to land, and against the oppression of residential schools, the Chinese community demanded redress for the head tax placed on their families, and an apology has been given to the Japanese community for their unjust displacement and internment. The struggle of the Filipino community is a part of this history of social justice.

Filipinos have also become Canada’s top source for migrant and immigrant labour. Currently, 95% of workers coming under Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP) are Filipino women, who cannot bring their families when they enter Canada to work. Filipino youth are the most affected as they are the ones left behind while their parents are working abroad.

It is not only in the justice system that Filipino youth face barriers to genuine development. We remember ten years ago in 1999, when 25 Filipino youth were harassed and threatened in Vancouver Technical Secondary School by other students. They were kicked out and transferred into schools across the city, while the caucasian youth that harassed them continued their education uninterrupted. Lack of support from the educational system caused the majority of the Filipino youth to drop out of school. 10 years later many still have not obtained their high school diploma.

Racism and discrimination reaches to even some of the youngest in our community. In Montreal 2006, we remember the story of Luc Cagadoc, the 7 year old child reprimanded by one of his school’s Faculty for eating with a spoon and fork. This caused international uproar and actions by the Filipino community across Canada, and was another case of the education system not understanding its changing student population of new immigrants.

We see these cases as evidence of the marginalization of our community. Filipino students–particularly those newly arrived—hold some of the highest high school drop out rates across Canada. We are currently the third largest visible minority immigrant group in Canada, and yet we remain among the most underpaid and under-represented. As marginalized newly-arrived youth in Canada, many Filipino youth are vulnerable to racism, discrimination and violence and become involved in anti-social activities.

We demand social justice for our Filipino youth, their families and our community. We have to remain vigilant and strong, and committed to the empowerment of our youth and our community, so that the circumstances that lead to the death of Deeward Ponte, and Mao Jomar Lanot before him do not happen to future generations. This is the best way for us to honor their lives.

Despite the tragedies faced by our community, Filipino youth across Canada will not be deterred, and as members of UKPC, we will continue to serve the needs and interests of our community, empower our young people, understand our history and struggle for genuine change, equality and social justice.

Honor the memory of Jomar, Jeffrey, Deeward and Charle!

Scrap the Live-in Caregiver Program! End family separation!
Heighten our Unity and Advance the Struggle Against Systemic Racism!

End Systemic Racism Now!

British Columbia
c/o The Kalayaan Centre
451 Powell St. Vancouver, 604-215-1103

c/o Magkaisa Centre
1093 Davenport Road
Toronto, 416-519-2553

Kabataang Montreal


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