Thousands of migrant workers come every year to fill jobs Canadians do not want.
According to the federal government’s 2018 report to Parliament, a total of 78,788 work permits were issued last year under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).
The TFWP covers caregivers, agricultural labourers, and other workers who require a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).
Although they play an important role in Canada’s economy, migrant workers are often not heard about.
Many Canadians are likely not aware about the lives of these workers in the country.
Many have to endure the loneliness of being separated from their loved ones who are left in their homelands. Others face unfavourable employment conditions.
One initiative hopes to help fill the void through the medium of art.
It’s called MigARTion, a collaboration between Co.ERASGA, a Vancouver-based dance company founded by choreographer Alvin Erasga Tolentino, and Migrante B.C., a grassroots organization for newcomer Filipino migrant workers and immigrants.
Starting in October this year, a group of Filipino migrant workers came together for a series of 14 arts workshops delivered by professional artists.
In addition to the Manila-born Tolentino, who did dance workshops, the other artists involved were Jeremiah Carag, voice; Dennis Gupa, theatre; and Bert Monterona, visual arts.
“This project aims to create critical and creative space where professional artists and Filipino migrants create art together,” according to an announcement on Co. ERASGA’s website.
“This process will give critical agency among the participants allowing their distinct voices to emerge within a space with an atmosphere of free will, joyous participation and critical public engagement,” the announcement explained. “In this initiative, the artists and the migrant participants work together in exploring artistic practices and will integrate critical and empathic discussions on settler colonialism, history of migration, arts and the migrants and indigenous ways of knowing and being.”
Moreover, “We believe that this critical and empathic process of artistic integration between the artists and the participants is much needed among the Filipino-Canadian communities in BC.”
MigARTion will culminate in two days of events on December 18 and December 19 at the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre in Vancouver (181 Roundhouse Mews).
The opening night (7 p.m. to 10 p.m.) includes the unveiling of the art exhibition featuring works created by the participants, various presentations, performances, community dialogue, a reception, and a proclamation by Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart of December 18, 2018 as “International Migrants Day” in the city.
The art exhibit will continue to be open to the public until 4 p.m. on December 19.
This project is generously supported by the Canada Council for the Arts, B.C. Arts Council, B.C. Gaming Commission, City of Vancouver, Vancouver Foundation, Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre, and the Vancouver Public Library.