Published on


    What leadership the community needs:

    Filipino-Canadians of the new generation

The Filipino-Canadian community is composed of individuals who value the importance of maintaining their Philippine heritage while living in Canada. My mother is Filipina and my father was Ethiopian, however being raised solely by my mother’s side of the family has given me insight as to just how powerful maintaining ones Filipino culture can truly be. The value in my heritage, which they have instilled in me, has convinced me that the capable young leader I have grown into is strongly accredited to their persistence to make my heritage an important part of my life. Though I was not raised in my mother’s homeland, I posses the appreciation for my culture – even while living in Canada. I have learned that this attitude is exactly what the leadership community needs today.

Born a Canadian citizen, I did not live life the way a traditional Filipina would. That is why my visit to the Philippines in December 2007 revealed to me where the pride and strong willed nature of my family originated. I saw that life is a struggle for many Filipino people, but it is a struggle they are willing to take on with all the tenacity and pride they can muster. My mother’s and mother’s aunt’s generation is a prime example of this. When Filipinos were immigrating to Canada approximately twenty to twenty-five years ago, immigrants were adapting to an entirely new country, new language and new way of life and in many cases, did not have any family living in Canada already. I feel as though I have been taught to appreciate the hard work my family went through, without actually witnessing this struggle – and this quality is uniquely Filipino-Canadian.

My uncle’s missionary work in the Philippines lead to my family establishing Christ the Rock: Christian Community Church here in Winnipeg. The desire to spread the word of God developed a sense of community within the growing church congregation. The three weeks I spent in the Philippines was time enough in terms of solidifying my belief: that it is this Filipino attitude that is essential in Winnipeg today.

I believe my Filipino background is a large part of the reason why I am an effective leader in my community. Just seeing life in the Philippines with my own eyes and relating it to the quality of life I have the opportunity to enjoy here in Canada, has allowed me to understand that it took sacrifices to get here; and I am fortunate those sacrifices are none of my own. Nonetheless, I would not have this understanding if I were not a Filipina-Canadian of the new generation. That is not to say every family must establish a church or pay visits to the Philippines to compare quality of life. It just means that being exposed to this culture is an immense benefit to youth of any nationality. Whether I acknowledge it or not, being a young adult of Filipino-Canadian heritage has allowed me to become a leader who has a strong sense of self worth, because I was taught that even if I am a minority, that has nothing to do with the things I can accomplish with my community. Ultimately, I believe that is what the future is all about – understanding that no matter who you are or where you come from, embracing your heritage and using it to bring your community together instead of erasing it, will not only strengthen your own character, but allow others to appreciate the culture that the generations before me worked so hard to preserve.

Marisolle Negash recently graduated from Elmwood High School with Valedictorian honours. She is also a recipient of the ANAK Liwayway Scholarship for Leadership Excellence 2009. This essay was submitted as part of the selection criteria. Best wishes and all the best to you Marisolle!


Contact the author at

Have a comment on this article? Send us your feedback