Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Filipino Youth of Montreal to Share their Stories, Return to their Roots in 2.5-day Conference

Kapit Bisig Centre
press release

for immediate release: March 10, 2009

Montreal - Côte-des-Neiges is abuzz with excitement over the latest endeavour of the Kapit Bisig Centre. “Ugat : Sharing our Pinoyville Stories, Understanding Our Roots (A Filipino Youth Intercollegiate and Community Conference)”, is a 2.5-day conference organized by Kapit Bisig Centre member organization "Kabataang Montreal," to bring together Filipino Youth around Montreal and - as the title of the conference states - share their stories and understand their “Ugat”, the Tagalog word meaning “roots”.

The conference aims to gather Filipino Youth of Montreal to share their stories and understand one another in their context of migration and settlement in Canada. Participants are being invited from all backgrounds and experiences.

“No matter where you were born, or how much schooling you completed; no matter what language you speak, who you choose to worship, or who you choose to love, at the root of it is our common ancestry, our common history, our common colonization and our common migration,” says Julie Nieto, member of Kabataang Montreal and one of the key conference organizers. “That’s what makes us Filipino. And now we’re in Canada, and Quebec specifically. We are here in Montreal. ‘How is that going for us?’ is the next question we need to address.”

From the understanding of our roots of migration and the history of the Philippines, conference participants will then explore and discuss the settlement and integration of Filipinos in Canada, and specifically in Montreal. Panel and workshop topics will include racism, identity, gender, language and education. Another goal of the conference is to train youth to engage in discussion on policies affecting the Filipino community in Montreal.

“I’m so proud to see our young people taking a more active role in Canadian society,” says Cecilia Diocson, Executive Director of the National Alliance of Philippine Women in Canada, and one of the keynote speakers for the conference. “So many of our youth are suffering, but so many more are starting to stand up and demand recognition.”

So far, many Filipino youth are eager to participate and the Filipino students of McGill University are no exception. Frances Bruno, co-president of the McGill University Filipino and Asian Students Association (MUFASA) says, “The members of MUFASA are eager to meet and learn alongside the Filipino students of Concordia, as well as with all other Filipinos around Montreal.”

As a daughter of OFWs, and a so-called “first generation” Filipino youth, Frances’ experiences are not uncommon: “Having to learn a completely novel language and adapting to a different culture was initially a challenge for me in terms of finding and embracing my identity at the age of 9, but ultimately helped me to realize that acknowledging your roots is all you need no matter where you are in the world.”

The conference will take a unique dynamic approach, bringing in speakers from community organizations as well as academic researchers. It will also feature an encore presentation of “Pinoyville: CDN”, a play first presented by the Kapit Bisig Centre in November 2008, as well as a photo exhibit by high school-aged Filipino youth, reflecting their experiences in Montreal.

“This conference is a continued assertion that the Filipino community in Montreal is growing stronger and more united,” says Joanne Vasquez, chair of the Philippine Women Centre of Quebec. “With over 60% of all Filipinos living in Cote-des-Neiges, this is our ‘Pinoyville’. Even if you didn’t grow up in this neighbourhood, all Filipinos have meaningful experiences here, even if it is simply about being among people who look like you.”

Ugat : Sharing our Pinoyville Stories, Understanding Our Roots (A Filipino Youth Intercollegiate and Community Conference) is set to take place May 22-24, 2009, at the Ampitheatre of the Jewish General Hospital Institute for Community and Family Psychiatry (ICFP), 4333 Cote-Ste-Catherine. For more information, or to volunteer, email Julie Nieto or Josie Caro at kabataangmontreal@gmail.com.

---Philippine Women Centre of Quebec---
Under the supervision of the National Alliance of Philippine Women in Canada (NAPWC), we are an institution of research, education, advocacy, and capacity building by Filipino women for the Filipino community.
Tel: (514) 678-3901


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