Starting in September 2016, Canadian schoolchildren of Philippine ancestry in the Seven Oaks Division in Winnipeg will have the opportunity to learn more about their heritage in the Filipino language.
According to a report by Pilipino Express, a Filipino Bilingual Language Program will be offered to Kindergarten to Grade 3 students at the Arthur E. Wright School, a first in Canada.
“There’s a feeling that parents would like to keep young people connected to the culture, and we need school programs that help the community to do that,” said Brian O’Leary, superintendent of the Seven Oaks School Division.
The Pilipino Express reported that some Seven Oaks schools already provide after-school language instruction in Cree, Ojibwa, and Tagalog.
The curriculum will be 40 percent in Filipino, and 60 percent in English. Social studies will focus on Philippine history, heritage and culture.
Cory Juan, a former teacher and Seven Oaks School Division trustee, is the main proponent of the program.
Juan noted that the program’s success needs the support from parents: “Parents are the partners in education. They should be empowered to support the program, sharing their varied strengths and talents. Filipino families need to be aware of the importance of preserving our unique culture through language and traditions for our future generations. We need to embrace our Filipino heritage with pride, honour and dignity.”
The Filipino Journal noted in another report that second generation Canadian Filipinos generally understand the Filipino language, but have troubles speaking the language. It also pointed out that in many cases, third generation Canadians of Philippine heritage have no knowledge about the language.
The Filipino Journal reported that Juan’s advocacy was supported by another educator in the community, the late Ric de la Cruz.
Juan began her career as an educator in the Philippines, where she taught elementary school for 10 years. She and her family immigrated to Canada in 1974. She earned a bachelor’s degree and a post-graduate degree in education at the University of Manitoba.