UKPC/FCYA - Toronto

Ugnayan ng Kabataang Pilipino sa Canada / Filipino Canadian Youth Alliance - Toronto Chapter

Thursday, July 12, 2007

A Continuation of Our People's Struggle

Speech delivered at the launch of two seminal studies on the Filipino community published by the Joint Centre of Excellence for Research on Immigration and Settlement (CERIS)
July 12, 2007

Thank you for giving us this opportunity tonight.

This launch of the two studies by Dr. Philip Kelly and Mila Garcia is very important to us. For the first time in the history of our community in Canada, we are seeing that our community indeed counts, not only because the studies are being published, but because we were involved in the development of these.

Working in the Justice for Jeffrey campaign was for us a lot of hard work. It was also very emotional for us because we were dealing with the loss of one of our own. At the same time, it was also very empowering for us to see that we are able to unite and work together for the common cause of justice.

For the longest time our community has been viewed as docile and silent. Our youth have been labeled compliant and indifferent. For us youth, this image of our people obscures our identity and leaves nothing for us to be proud of.

But this development has allowed us to break away from this image and allowed us to connect to our people's long history of struggle and resistance against foreign and local oppression.

While we struggle for our community's genuine development and equity here, we always keep in mind as well that our community's huge presence in Canada is deeply rooted in the history and socio-economic conditions in our home country, the Philippines .

Being children of migrants and immigrants, we are very much aware of the fact that the choice to come here is driven by the need for economic survival and the desire for a better future for us, their children. If there were decent jobs in the Phil ippines , many of our compatriots would not have had to make the sacrifice of coming to Canada .

And just as we fight for our community's rights and welfare here, our fellow Filipinos in the Philippines are also waging struggle for better social conditions - for justice, genuine freedom and peace for our people. They forge on, although under conditions there that are far more severe.

Thus, we have youth and student leaders like Cris Hugo, Rio Mon Guran, Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen EmpeƱo who have been killed and abducted because they dared to expose the inequalities and injustices people are facing, and to speak out against unjust policies. We stand in solidarity with them because we view our struggle and theirs as one. The Filipino people have a long history of struggle and resistance against foreign and local oppressors, and the actions we take now are but a continuation of that struggle .

So tonight, we thank you for this tribute. We share it with all our fellow immigrant youth. And we offer it in turn to our fellow youth in the Philippines - all of whom are working to create the better future that we all dream of.