B.C.’s Filipino community celebrates federal budget nod to new cultural centre

Members of British Columbia’s Filipino community say they’re happy to see support in this week’s federal budget to build a centre for their community.

Ottawa announced support for the proposed Mabuhay House, which Tuesday’s budget said “will create a designated space” for Filipino Canadians to “come together and celebrate” their culture and heritage.

A spokesperson for Burnaby’s Pinoy Festival said the funding was “monumental” for the community.

“Our dream is about to come true,” Liberty Aloha de Vera, who directs volunteers for the annual festival, told CBC News.

“It validates decades of community effort and underscores the vital need for a Filipino cultural hub where we can preserve our heritage and foster unity within the growing population of Filipinos.”

The federal budget does not put a price tag on Ottawa’s support, which appears under a section on “vibrant and inclusive communities,” but the government said it is “committed to being a funding partner” for the project, and the money would be in addition to the $11 million budgeted for “building new museums and cultural centres.”

“Once further details are announced, the federal government will contribute to build … a new Filipino cultural centre,” the budget documents stated.

More than 174,000 people in B.C. identify as Filipino, according to Statistics Canada’s 2021 Census, with roughly three-quarters of them born in the Philippines. Tagalog is the mother tongue of nearly 83,000 people in B.C.

On The Coast7:47Vancouver Fringe and B.C. Filipino cultural centre get federal budget promises

The federal budget announced funding for the Vancouver Fringe Festival and funding to build a Filipino community cultural centre. Pinoy Festival Alliance Society spokesperson Liberty de Vera and Vancouver Fringe Festival executive director Duncan Watts-Grant talk about what the funding means for their groups.

Plans for a dedicated facility somewhere in the Lower Mainland have advanced under the auspices of the Mabuhay House Society, a three-year-old charity that describes the proposed centre as “an inclusive, intercultural, and intergenerational space that Filipino Canadians can call home.”

According to a statement from the non-profit’s board chair on Friday, the news from Ottawa signalled recognition of the importance of “cultural preservation and community empowerment.”

“This significant investment will not only provide a physical space for our community to flourish,” said Sammie Jo Rumbaua, “but also serve as a beacon of unity, fostering understanding and appreciation among all Canadians.”

WATCH | Filipinos celebrate their culture with local community during Filipino Heritage Month:

Filipinos celebrate their culture with local community during Filipino Heritage Month

10 months ago

Duration 1:12

Filipino community members expressed their support for a dedicated community centre at the Pinoy Festival this weekend during Filipino Heritage Month to, in the words of one supporter, “enrich Canadian culture by introducing our heritage.” Premier David Eby reaffirmed his support for the centre while attending the festival.

On Tuesday, NDP MP Don Davies — whose Vancouver Kingsway riding has a significant Filipino community — said on Twitter that he was pleased to see funding for the proposed community centre in the budget, something he said was long overdue.

The federal funding came one year after the province announced $250,000 in funding toward early planning and public outreach for the proposed centre,

The Pinoy Festival’s Liberty Aloha de Vera said the day Mabuhay House finally opens its doors, her community will be “really, really proud.”

“You’ll see a lot of Filipinos dancing,” she said.


Posted in CBC