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Creation of first Fil-Canadian center in Vancouver pushed

Rowena Papasin | TFC News Vancouver

Posted at Mar 31 2023 06:01 PM

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Filipino community leaders in Vancouver are pushing for the creation of a community centre in the Canadian province. 

The move by members of the Mabuhay Housing Society comes after almost a year since the Bayanihan drive was launched for the project. 

In a series of letters, the Filipino leaders urged British Columbia Premier David Eby to make good on his pledge to build the said community center. 

Eby appointed Filipino-Canadian legislator Mable Elmore last year as the Parliamentary Secretary for Anti-Racism Initiatives. 

Part of Eby's mandate letter was for her to support the tourism minister in advancing proposals for a Filipino cultural center. 

Tony Ortega, president of the Cebuano Society, was among the letter's signatories. 

"Sumulat tayo kay Premier Eby para ma-realize na po yung project na 'yan," he said. "Kasi nagpalabas siya (Eby) ng statement na ang government niya is willing to support the project."

Other signatories include leaders of Tulayan, One Filipino Cooperative Society, and the Batangas Community Support Society of Metro Vancouver. 

They stressed that a cultural center will allow Filipinos to reconnect with their heritage. It also aims to serve as the hub for Filipino festivals and activities. 

The leaders also sought the support of Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim, with the project to be located in the city. 

"Yung Filipino Cultural Centre, it’s long overdue," Ortega said. "Marami tayong mga ginagawa, papunta tayo kahit saan-saan, nahihirapan po tayong maghanap ng venue."

Elmore echoed Ortega's sentiment, as she said it was high time that "there is a space created by the community for everyone."

"They rent at different halls, different community centers, and the community, they’ve told me that they don't feel that they have a place to go," Elmore said. "They don't have a place to call home." 

The lawmaker said the community also needs help in acquiring a half acre of land in Vancouver where the center is eyed to be built. 

For Ortega, more Filipinos should join their calls for a community center. 

Meanwhile, Elmore said she and tourism minister Lana Popham will soon meet with members of the Mabuhay Housing Society.

She expressed hopes that a more concrete commitment will be announced by the government soon.