In Vancouver B.C., public school students at Sir Charles Tupper Secondary will soon have access to Filipino language courses, after the city’s school board recently unanimously voted to introduce classes for grades 10-12.
The course focusing on Filipino language and culture will be the first of its kind in both the Vancouver School District and in the state of British Columbia, and is scheduled for the start of the next school year.
The news has been welcomed by the Filipino community of B.C. who have been campaigning for more language resources since the 1990s.
Leonora Angeles, a University of British Columbia professor and president of the National Filipino Canadian Cultural Centre (NPC3) said “This is highly significant,I really wish it had come sooner.”
Canadian census data from 2021 states that 83,000 British Columbian residents are speakers of the Filipino language and approximately 174,280 Filipino people live in the province.
Currently, similar courses are offered at a select number of schools in Alberta and Manitoba, after similar community-lead initiatives. In 2019, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley announced that the Alberta Filipino school program – at the time only taught in four Catholic high schools, would be expanded and offered to students from kindergarten up to Grade 12 following “community requests to improve Filipino language offerings in schools.”
Introduced fully in 2020 the optional language and culture program aims to strengthen the Filipino community’s roots. Notley added “Creating a K-12 Filipino language and culture curriculum will ensure this vibrant community can continue to grow deep roots and make this province even greater”.
At university level, courses in Filipino and Philippine Studies are offered at select colleges across North America. In the United States, courses focusing on culture, language, politics and indigenous studies of the Philippines are offered at Columbia University, The University of Hawaii, UC Davis and The University of San Francisco. In Canada, Philippine programs – some partially funded by the government of the Philippines, are offered at York University, The University of British Columbia and The University of Manitoba.