BOW VALLEY – The Bow Valley Filipino community is welcoming news last week that the provincial government plans to expand language programming for schools in Alberta.
Following requests to expand the Filipino cultural programming for Alberta K-12 students, the provincial government announced a new Filipino language and culture curriculum in the works with plans to launch in 2020.
“We are very happy because this is one step forward to better understanding,” Ericson Dizon, founder of the Filipino-Canadian Association of the Bow Valley said.
“It’s not just a curriculum, but the opportunity to enrich someone’s life and you know, it helps bridge the gap between cultures.”
With 170,000 people of Filipino heritage in Alberta and close to 900 residing in Banff and Canmore, Dizon said the new curriculum introduction is a step in the right direction.
“It’s a wonderful feeling coming together to make one big beautiful community,” Dizon said.
Founding the volunteer organization in 2014, Dizon said the mission of the Filipino-Canadian Association of the Bow Valley is to be inclusive and welcoming to new Filipinos in the valley while also building bridges between the different heritages.
“We try to break the barriers, break the language barrier and we see it as a way to connect people and also a way to celebrate friendship and connection,” Dizon explained.
“We want to help Filipinos acclimate to life [here] while helping Canadians understand where we are coming from ... we don’t want to create cultural pockets – I want us to one day simply be called the Canadian association of the Bow Valley [because] in heart and mind, eventually we will all see each other as one.”
The introduction of the new curriculum was created from demand, but also ties into the Province’s plan to foster an inclusive Alberta and combat racism.
“Strengthening language programs based on local need and demand can be an effective tool in addressing racism,” David Eggen, Alberta’s minister of education stated in a press release.
“In fact, this is one of the ways we’re acting on the feedback we heard, and commitments we made, in our government’s anti-racism consultations and report.”
After the new curriculum is developed, Alberta Education officials will work with community partners and stakeholders to identify supportive resources.
“It’s always been my belief that our strength is our diversity,” Dizon said.
School divisions will have the option to implement the new curriculum as it will not be mandatory.