Across Canada, May is celebrated as Asian Heritage Month, giving us an opportunity to remember and reflect on the histories, experiences and contributions of Asian communities in Canada.
For the last four years, the York Centre for Asian Research (YCAR) has hosted the Asian Heritage Month Lecture and Education Roundtable. Organized by Philip Kelly, director of YCAR and professor of geography, this year’s event “Filipino Voices on the Arts & Academia” will focus on the culture and experiences of Filipino-Canadians. It takes place May 16.
The Philippines is Canada’s top source of new immigrants and temporary foreign worker, and in the City of Toronto alone, the Filipino community numbers over 100,000. Bringing together voices from the arts, media and academia, this event will reflect on the ways in which writers, performers and researchers have articulated immigration experiences, family relationships, identities and political struggles of the Filipino community in Canada, and especially its younger generation.
One of the central goals of the event is to facilitate a conversation between high school students and researchers, artists, writers and community organizers. In collaboration with the Community Relations Office at the Toronto Catholic District School Board, YCAR will host students from seven local high schools at the event.
“We have a very active group of faculty and students at York who are researching social, cultural and political issues in the Philippines, as well as the experiences of the Filipino-Canadian community,” said Kelly. “This event is an opportunity for us to share some of that research with high school students from across the city, especially those with a Filipino heritage.”
The keynote lecture will be delivered in two parts by Shirley Camia and Jennilee Austria, and both will draw on their literary work to reflect on the meaning of Filipino-Canadian identity, especially for a generation of young people who have been raised in Canada or arrived as children.
Camia is the author of two critically acclaimed collections of poetry, most recently The Significance of Moths, published by Turnstone Press in 2015. She has worked as a news producer at CBC Radio’s World Report and The World This Weekend, and is currently community arts reporter for JAZZ.FM91 in Toronto.
Austria is an author whose work has appeared in The Philippine Reporter, Rabble and LooseLeaf literary magazine. After several years working as a counsellor for newcomers in TDSB and TCDSB schools, she looks forward to publishing her first novel for young adults, The Filipino Heroes of Bathurst Street.
Following the keynote lecture, the education roundtable will further the conversation on articulating Filipino-Canadian identities, with participants from an array of disciplines who bring perspectives from visual and performance arts as well as academic and community research.
This event is sponsored by the York Centre for Asian Research, the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, Office of the Vice-President, Research & Innovation, the Halton Pinoy Project and the Toronto Catholic District School Board.