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Making film, art and music as a Filipino in Canada

Last week, as part of Asian Heritage Month, host of The Doc Project, Casey Mecija was invited by the Reel Asian Film Festival to speak in high schools about her experience of making film, art and music as a Filipino in Canada.
Casey Mecija presents at St. Joseph's Morrow Park Catholic Secondary School in Toronto.
Last week, as part of Asian Heritage Month, I was invited by the Reel Asian International Film Festival to speak in high schools about my experience of making film, art and music as a Filipino in Canada. I visited four high schools in the Greater Toronto Area, ending the tour speaking to a gymnasium full of five hundred students at St. Joseph's Morrow Park Catholic Secondary School, many of whom, like me, were Filipina.

Toronto holds one of the largest diasporas of Filipinos in the world and St. Joseph's transformed into an impasse where some of us would meet and exchange smiles. At the end of my presentation I was approached by a handful of Filipina students who shared with me that hearing my experiences as a Filipina producing multimedia in Canada was relieving.

Cities collect people, stray and lost and deliberate arrivants.- Dionne Brand

I too felt relieved that in the audience there were students that found themselves reflected in my work, and in that hour we could carve out a psychic and emotional connection.

The tour brought me to different neighbourhoods and I encountered students and teachers who have come to Toronto in different ways — some born here, others having arrived from other parts of the world.

I spoke to the students about how artistic expression has helped me to tell a more complicated story about my Filipina experience, my desires and my family's history.

I spoke about how doc making is an attempt to mine and extract the details of what might be considered otherwise mundane.

The theme of my presentation was the relationship of artistic practice to story telling. In a city that collects so many people who have ties elsewhere, story is what helps us to know ourselves, our histories and each other. The Doc Project attempts to do just that ... make space for stories that help to bring meaning to our lives.

At the show, we hope to establish an archive that reflects the rich histories out of which we build futures together. 

About the author

Casey Mecija is host of CBC Radio One's The Doc Project.
Casey Mecija is an accomplished multi-disciplinary artist, who first appeared in the spotlight as vocalist and songwriter for the Canadian orchestral pop band, Ohbijou. She continues to make music and is also an award-winning filmmaker, having recently won an emerging artist award from Women In Film and Television.

Her work has been screened internationally and at home at the Reel Asian Film Festival and Inside Out LGBT Film Festival. Casey is completing a PhD at the University of Toronto, where she researches art, media and cultural studies as they relate to immigration and multiculturalism. She enjoys being involved in arts education programs that help youth, particularly those who come from racialized and diasporic communities like herself.

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