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Prime Minister Trudeau urged to support Filipino cultural centre in B.C

The campaign for the development of a Filipino cultural centre in British Columbia enters a new phase
with community representatives calling on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his federal
government to support the initiative.

The move follows an April 14, 2023 announcement by the B.C. provincial government of its support for a
public engagement and planning for a Filipino centre with a $250,000 funding grant to the community
based nonprofit Mabuhay House Society.

In a letter to Trudeau, community representatives outline what has been envisioned for a cultural centre
that is suggested to be constructed in Vancouver.

Community members from across B.C. have expressed what we want to see in a provincial Filipino
cultural centre in Vancouver: spaces for performing arts and intercultural programming; recreational
and sports activities; childcare; seniors services; affordable housing; and opportunities for sustainability
and to foster reconciliation,” the letter states.

The letter noted that the Filipino population in B.C. has grown significantly in recent years to nearly
175,000, making up 3.6 percent of the total population in the province.

A cultural centre would provide a space for Filipino Canadians to connect with their roots, share their
traditions, and celebrate their culture with others,” the letter explains.

Based on Statistics Canada projections, Filipinos are expected to number over 2 million across Canada in

The 2021 Census established that a total of 957,000 people living in Canada reported being Filipino
during the tally, or 2.6 percent of the country’s total population.

As part of the ongoing campaign, a new online portal. launches on April 23, 2023 to
serve as a hub for information and updates. Visitors will be able to sign on with in order
to be kept posted on developments as well as submit their recommendations.

Rafael “RJ” Aquino is a director with Tulayan Filipino Diaspora Society, and he is one of the primary
movers of the campaign for a Filipino cultural centre in B.C.

“For as long as I can remember, it’s been a dream of the Filipino community here to have a space of its
own,” Aquino states.

Aquino goes on: “As exciting as that is, I’m even more excited by how our community is discovering its
voice and how we’ve been able to speak up, organize, and empower ourselves towards a common goal.
This is a moment we’ll look back on and know we’re capable of anything when we step up and work

Lina Vargas is the founder and president of the Diversity and Inclusion Support Group of B.C., and she is
supporting the creation of a Filipino cultural centre.
We all need a home where we can congregate and enjoy our heritage and culture, so that future
generations will appreciate the beauty and uniqueness of being Filipino, Vargas says.

Vargas adds: We have a lot to contribute in terms of developing new capabilities, as well as expanding
our innate abilities, creativity, and art.

Khristine Carino is an advocate of women’s representation in the fields of STEM (science, technology,
engineering and mathematics). She is the CEO of Axon55Tech, and a member of the board of Women in
Cybersecurity (WiCys) Western Canada.

Carino welcomes the inclusion of an innovation component in the planned Filipino cultural centre.

As a national leader in the Women in STEM movement championing equitable access to digital
technology, I am excited to learn that the cultural centre will not only celebrate the rich culture and
heritage of the Filipino community, but will also serve as a multipurpose space including an innovation
and learning hub,” Carino says.

Carino explains: “An innovation hub will provide Filipinos access to resources and support we need to
develop new skills, explore emerging technologies, and build innovative businesses. I can’t wait to see
the makerspace that would be an incubator for our youth to explore STEM, and create awareness for
careers in highgrowth industries. I look forward to tech upskilling programs for adults shifting careers
from the service industry, of which majority of Filipinos currently work in lowlevel, low paying jobs, to
highgrowth, highpaying jobs.

The proposed Filipino cultural centre’s allocation of spaces for arts and performances thrills Davey
Samuel Calderon, a playwright and performing artist. He is a cofounder of the New(to)Town Collective.

We need a Filipino Cultural Centre to show FilipinxCanadians, no to everyone, we are here: dreaming,
imagining, and thriving,” Calderon says.

In mandate letters dated December 7, 2022, B.C. Premier David Eby directed Lana Popham and Mable
Elmore, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport, and Parliamentary Secretary for AntiRacism
Initiatives, respectively, to advance programs and proposals that include a provincial Filipino cultural

The Mabuhay House Society is a nonprofit organization established to lead planning and community
engagement for a Filipino cultural centre.

Rafael ‘RJ’ Aquino

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