50 years of Filipino immigration to Manitoba

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Perla Javate & Symmone Ochoa
 WINNIPEG – Almost 50 years ago, in late November 1959, four Filipina nurses arrived in Winnipeg to work at the Misericordia Hospital. They were among the first Filipinos to live in Winnipeg. One of the nurses, Fe Ryder, is still here in the city and on May 26 she was in the Manitoba Legislature to witness the MLA for Inkster, Kevin Lamoureux, submit a resolution acknowledging the valuable contributions that members of the Filipino community have made to Manitoba.

 50 Years
Members from all political parties in the legislature, including Mohinder Saran, Hugh McFadyen, Flor Marcelino, Jon Gerrard, Bidhu Jha and Leanne Rowat, voiced their support for the resolution and the Filipino community in Manitoba. The resolution was passed unanimously. (See the resolution below.)

Kevin Lamoureux told the Pilipino Express, “Members of the Filipino community should feel proud of what they have been able to accomplish in 50 short years. The resolution that I introduced is in recognition of just how valuable a role the Filipino community plays in our province and that is why it received unanimous support from all three political parties.”

Approximately 46 members of the Filipino community were in the public gallery for the reading and debate of the resolution, including Philippine Association of Manitoba President Lito Taruc, Honorary Consul Edda Pangilinan and Perla Javate, President of the Philippine Heritage Council of Manitoba (PHCM). All were invited to a lunch reception in the legislature organized by MLAs Kevin Lamoureux, Flor Marcelino and Mohinder Saran.

The resolution was the first of several events that will take place throughout the remainder of this year marking the 50th anniversary of Filipino immigration to Manitoba. The PHCM, which is hosting the events, officially launched the anniversary campaign with a press conference at the Philippine Canadian Centre of Manitoba (PCCM) on Wednesday, May 27. (Visit the PHCM for a list of upcoming events.)

We wish to welcome everyone to celebrate this milestone with us,” said PHCM President Perla Javate. “It has been 50 years since the first Filipino settlers arrived in Manitoba. Then, there were about 10 professionals, largely in the healthcare industry; now, we’re over 30,000 strong in all sectors from healthcare to trades to business to the arts.”

Dr. Rey Pagtakhan reflected on the significance of the first 50 years of Manitoba’s Filipino community as well as the anniversary celebrations. Pagtakhan was the first Filipino to serve as a Member of Parliament and as a federal cabinet minister, and was instrumental in the founding and construction of the PCCM.

The launch also unveiled the artwork of Symmone Ochoa, whose photos and designs for the celebration campaign can be seen throughout the city.

It’s an honour to be here,” said Ochoa. “I am happy to have been given this opportunity. I migrated to Canada as a kid in the 1990s so I guess I'm celebrating my own anniversary too in a way.”

Ochoa’s ad designs for the celebration have been displayed in Winnipeg Transit bus interiors since April and will run until July. Three billboards went up in the last week of May on Keewatin St., McPhillips St. and on Route 90 at Wellington Avenue, and will be displayed until the end of June. In September, the ads will appear again on transit bus exteriors.

Local singer Aimee Vaillancourt closed the event with a stirring rendition of Tagumpay Nating Lahat (Triumph for Us All).

Photos by J.P Sumbillo

Filipino Community celebrates 50 years of being in Manitoba
Resolution moved by MLA for Inkster Kevin Lamoureux in the Manitoba Legislature, May 26, 2009.

WHEREAS it is important to recognize the 50th anniversary of the Filipino community’s presence here in Manitoba; and

WHEREAS it was 1959 when a handful of healthcare workers and a few others who originated from the Philippines made the decision to make Manitoba their home; and

WHEREAS over the last 50 years the population of the Filipino community has grown through live births and immigration to an estimated 50,000 people; and

WHEREAS Manitoba socially and economically has benefited by the many contributions that the Filipino community has made in all sectors of Manitoba society; and

WHEREAS immigration has grown over the last number of years with the Philippines being Manitoba’s primary source of immigrants; and

WHEREAS the Filipino community will be organizing events like Philippine Independence week, Folklorama pavilions, Rizal day, many fiestas and numerous other activities in 2009, all of which will lead to dialog about the 50th anniversary.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba extend its best wishes to members of the Filipino community living here in Manitoba.

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba acknowledge the valuable contributions that members of the Filipino community have made which has greatly enhanced the quality of life for all Manitobans.


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