Publisher's Note

  • Publisher’s Note

    It’s been 23 years since I’ve moved to Canada from the Philippines.  I remember that the first thing I looked for was a Filipino community paper so I can read some news about the community being new in Calgary.  I never found any Filipino community paper back in 1996. From them on I told myself that [...]

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Page added on May 20, 2010

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Filipino Community Development Program

Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association


By: Arnida Bituin – Guillermo

Coordinator – Filipino Community Development Program

Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association


Becoming a permanent resident is considered an achievement of every Filipino working in Canada and once permanent residency is obtained, the eventual goal of bringing their families and reunite with them becomes more challenging. It is not enough that papers are processed, things are packed and plane tickets are bought. Bringing the family to live in Canada is as much challenging as applying for permanent residency, especially if there is no preparation and both parties are not ready to face reality. In one of the studies made, it was reported that the general pattern on Filipino families is; parents leave their children in the Philippines for a few years until they can secure their family’s basic needs, and when the parent is able to obtain his/her permanent resident status, they bring their family to Canada. Reunification of families become challenging because parents have not been exposed to available services and they don’t know where to turn to adequately deal with the challenges. Over the past years, reunification between Filipino parents and children often results in a great deal of family conflict and stress. The issue of family reunification plays a significant role in maintaining the family’s underdevelopment and inequality in Canada. After spending years apart from one another, Filipino families are now being reunited to recreate their new home in an entirely new place and environment. Now, they must contend with adjusting to a new culture, a new environment, and in many ways, A NEW FAMILY! Being apart for several years, family members now have to start knowing each other again….The parent is no longer familiar with their children’s routine, favorite food, sleeping and study habits, hobbies, friends and many more. On the other side, couples who have been away from each other for several years are not spared from the reunification challenges. There are a lot of adjustments to be done, expectations to clarify, roles and responsibilities to be agreed upon, the limited time they might have (and accept) due to different work schedules and many other things…and if they are not ready, reunification and settlement process might take a long while.


Tatiana Oschepkova explains Employment Services of CIWA

These are the reasons why FCDP and CSSD came up with the Reunification Workshop which aims to address these challenges the family has to face once they reunite in Canada. We hope to:

l      Be able to help/guide and assist individuals prepare for the arrival of their loved ones

l      Help families to become successful in the reunification process

l      Guide Families to have a smooth, peaceful and enjoyable settlement in Canada

l      Assist families to integrate smoothly to the Canadian community

The Filipino Community Development Program of the Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association, funded by FCSS and in coordination with the Calgary Catholic School District held its first Reunification – SELF Preparation workshop with twelve enthusiastic and optimistic participants. The SELF preparation workshop is designed to help individuals prepare for the coming of their loved ones in Canada. Although some of the attendees are still working on their permanent residency which they are optimistic they will be able to obtain, said that the workshop is an eye opener.


Mariel Guina of CSSD Halo halo to Snow

The workshop included topics on HOUSING and BUDGETING, which was ably delivered by Karyn Hill, one of CIWA Integration Counselors. It aimed at guiding the participants how to find low cost and affordable housing for their families even before they get to Canada. CIWA is always able to assist new immigrants how to find affordable housing while in their settlement stage. Budgeting and managing their finances was one topic the participants really liked. It did not only help them prepare their budget, it made them realize the importance of budgeting especially if the family is already in Canada.


The author on SELF-DISCOVERY

Employment, a very in demand topic nowadays was one of the highlights of the workshop. Delivered by one of CIWA Employment Counselors, Tatiana Oshchepkova, she discussed all the Employment Skills training, workshops and mentoring being offered by CIWA which the participants and their families can avail, free of charge once they are reunited in Canada. We don’t find employment for people. We help people enhance their employment skills and improve their employability.

Maria Steinborn, Supervisor of the Calgary Catholic School Reception Centre explained the Canadian school system. This is to help the parents prepare for their children’s schooling when they finally come to Canada. Maria explained that children who are new comers have to undergo assessment and that grade level entry depends on the child’s age. While all Alberta schools follow and uses the same curriculum, she mentioned that Canada’s education system has a little difference from province to province. To further guide the parents, Maria requested each participant to answer a simple survey asking them “What they want to know about schools and their children’s education when they come to Canada”. The responses will help Maria and her team to understand what the needs are and how to address them. Maria expressed that even non -  Catholic children are welcome to attend the Catholic school.


Group Picture

The theme “LEAVING HOME to RECREATING HOME or HALO –HALO to SNOW was the main event of the workshop. Mariel Guina of CSSD and my self teamed up in the delivery of the course. We started it by bringing the participants back to the memory lane…which we called “Self Discovery”. The participants were then asked to do self assessment and reflection about their experiences, their fears, their dreams, their plans as well as their priorities when they first left their families to work in Canada. Tears fell…and only the participants know why….

Summarizing the feedback given by the participants, the workshop was an eye opener, realistic and it made them realize a lot of things!

This is just the first step, once their families arrive, they will all be attending the FAMILY WORKSHOP.


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