British Columbia

Filipino language classes to begin at Vancouver secondary school

The Vancouver School Board unanimously voted Monday night to offer a Filipino language and culture course for students in grades 10 to 12 at Sir Charles Tupper Secondary next school year.

The board says it is the first in B.C. to offer the course to some high school students

Students and parents gather in a school hallway around a volunteer who is holding a sign that says Filipino.
Immigrant students and parents attend workshop and orientation classes prior to the start of the school year at Sir Charles Tupper Secondary school in Vancouver, British Columbia on Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019. The school will now be the first in the province to offer a Filipino language course to its students. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

It's magandang balita (good news) for Vancouver public school students looking to expand their Filipino language skills.

The city's school board unanimously voted Monday night to offer a Filipino language and culture course for students in grades 10 to 12 at Sir Charles Tupper Secondary next school year.

According to the board, it will be the first time such a class will be available not only in the Vancouver School District but to any students in British Columbia.

The course is designed to introduce students to the Filipino language at the beginner level while also exploring Filipino history, traditions and culture, said the Vancouver School Board in a written statement.

Leonora Angeles, a University of British Columbia professor and president of the National Pilipino Canadian Cultural Centre (NPC3), welcomed the news and said the Filipino community has been lobbying for such a move since the 1990s.

"This is highly significant," said Angeles. "I really wish it had come sooner."

Leonora Angeles, president of the National Pilipino Canadian Cultural Centre, says the fastest-growing immigrant population in British Columbia is Filipino and has not been well-represented in the province's school curriculum. (Gian Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

According to the NPC3, the number of Filipino people in Canada is approaching one million, and the demographic is the country's third-largest ethnic community.

English and Filipino are the official languages of the Philippines. Filipino is based on Tagalog, the language of the Tagalog people.

Canadian census data from 2021 shows that almost 83,000 British Columbian residents speak the Filipino language, and approximately 174,280 Filipino people live in the province.

"The Vancouver School Board is on the cutting edge in taking the lead in this because it is host to the biggest Filipino population in B.C.," said Angeles.

Angeles said she would like to see the curriculum extended further so that students at the elementary school level can also have the opportunity to learn.

With files from Liam Britten


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