A welcome message to newcomer parents and students
Welcome to Canada! Welcome to Winnipeg, Manitoba and Welcome to your school! Canada has so much to offer to you and your family. It is up to you and your family to take on the challenge and do the best you can to make it work.
The biggest challenge is adapting to a brand new lifestyle. All throughout your growing up years, you were in the Philippine. You grew up surrounded by your parents; your brothers and sisters; your lolos and lolas; tiyos and tiyas; titos and titas and all your friends and barkada. You were comfortable because you were surrounded by people who care for you; you spoke Filipino and/or whatever dialect your parents spoke. You understood hiya; makuha ka sa tingin; palo as parusa; utang na loob; pakikisama; bayanihan, etc. You were used to the hot humid weather all year round and bahathat goes with heavy monsoon rains and typhoons during the school year. Life, although difficult in many ways (specially material things), was easy, happy and comfortable. You knew and understood what was around you. You were home.
Now that you are in Canada, the whole family will feel strange during your first few months. There are familiar things but yet, the rules are not the same. There is a lot of work ahead of you in getting to know your new adopted country and its people. Do it with your family through sharing of thoughts and experiences; being sensitive to unfamiliar things and feeling free to ask questions to friends; teachers and people in the community who can help refer you to appropriate contacts.
Parents shall go through adjustments at work. For some, it means taking on jobs way below their positions in the Philippines and this is hard on one’s self esteem. It may mean working two or three jobs to make both ends meet. Student in school will have to work hard to be successful. The decision to immigrate is to have the chance to have a better future because there are more opportunities. It will not be easy. That is the reality of the immigrant experience. There are many challenges but it can be overcome.
Let us preserve all the good things about being a Filipino. It is encouraged and supported here in Canada because we are a multicultural society. We can be who we are.
One of the most important thing to remember is that our new adopted country has a multicultural policy. We share our space with people from different ethnic backgrounds. Some had been here long and some are recent immigrants like you. That is the essence of being a Canadian. We tolerate and respect each other regardless of race, age, religion, sex and sexual orientation and abilities.
Hitting is not allowed in Canada. Communication is important; giving natural consequences is one way of disciplining. There is a need to learn new strategies in parenting that are effective in Canadian setting. For more information, please call Coalition of Filipino Canadians for Stronger Families: 955-5603/488-6470.
Perla Javate is the president of the Philippine Heritage Council of Manitoba (PHCM) and Community Liaison Officer of Winnipeg School Division I