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Canada-Philippine friendship

by Kevin Lamoureux, MP for Winnipeg North

      flag raising
Flag raising ceremony in Ottawa, 2019

Canada’s Filipino community is growing all over our nation and with that growth a special group of parliamentarians have taken a special interest.

In my role as the current chair and one of the founding-members of the Canada-Philippine Parliamentary Friendship Group, I lead our members of parliament and senators in work to strengthen the important relationship between our two countries. Our group has over 40 parliamentarians that are interested in that special relationship and over the years I have seen the level of interest grow.

That interest in Philippines is growing due in part to the growth of Canada’s Filipino’s heritage community. A community that was likely to have exceeded one million people this summer but do to the coronavirus that number might now be achieved in 2021.

As a parliamentary friendship group we have been able to accomplish a great deal of things over the years and I would like to highlight the ones that come to my mind.

Every year for the past decade we have been hosting a special gathering on Parliament Hill to host a special event recognizing June 12 as Philippine Independence Day. When the late Senator Enverga joined the group, he suggested we also have a flag-raising event on the Hill, so for the many years now we have incorporated that idea too.

We took a trip to the Philippines where we met with a number of our senators and members of the National Congress. The trip was only set for a few days but we had a full agenda that was in part organized by the Philippine Embassy here in Ottawa.

We recognized ANCOP as an organization that has a footprint across Canada and is contributing to better conditions around the world. I suspect that we will be coming up with some ideas on how we can recognize more groups into the future.

One of our greatest accomplishments was the establishment of the first-ever Filipino youth internship program that saw youth from coast to coast get paid to work with parliamentarians in Ottawa. The feedback to that program has been fantastic and I hope to write a follow up story on that issue alone.

We supported the quick passage of the motion that created June as Philippine Heritage Month in Canada. Members of the group from all political stripes spoke to and supported the motion that ultimately saw June of 2019 be our first month of celebration. Last year we worked with the Philippine embassy and had a sensational event that was highlighted by speeches, entertainment and food. On a personal note my daughter and I hosted a special event in the heart of Canada’s Filipino’s community in the Maples last year too.

June has become a month for all of us to better understand and appreciate how our Filipino heritage community has added value to Canada’s ever changing diversity. This year the friendship group had to get a little creative. We created a wonderful parliamentary video, inviting dozens of MPs, senators, and even the Philippines’ ambassador to give their thanks and best wishes to the community. You can check it out on my Facebook page.

As the chair of the friendship group I often consult with the Embassy of the Philippines, individual MPs, community members and ministers of the national government. I am proud to say that I represent Winnipeg North, the heart of Canada’s Filipino Heritage community, and I am committed to looking for ways to better the relationship between Canada and Philippines.