I want to keep my Filipino language, but it seems to really anger people when I speak it.|
Earlier this summer, a woman at the train station yelled at me and started to speak Spanish to check if I was Filipino. Upon seeing my confused face, she confirmed the truth and began to scream derogatory remarks. It was nothing I had not heard before as I heard the same selection of phrases like “Go back to your country,” “You don’t belong here,” and “You’ve ruined my day.”
Nonetheless, it makes me feel like crying when this happens. I was filled with confusion and frustration as I walked away from the train and decided to take an Uber home. A recurring thought played through my head, “No matter how long I’ve lived in Canada, will I always be the ‘other’?”
Most of the time, I forget that I’m Asian. The colour of my skin does not cross my mind and I forget that my hair is jet black. However, experiences like these abruptly take me out of my bubble and remind me that my Filipino heritage stands out to others. It is different from their definition of what a “Canadian” looks like.
I am proud to identify as a Canadian and a Filipino immigrant. However, this label is but a part of my identity, a facet to the numerous sides. I wish to put these parts together to become a Filipino-Canadian immigrant.
We each have the responsibility of making this place a home for one another.
When my mom first started working in Canada, I was five years old. I used to look up at the night sky, and I became obsessed with astronomy because I realized that my mother could observe the same constellations when she looked skyward. When I look up at the night sky, I am reminded of how small the world we belong in is and I know we are connected.
We share so much more than just the night sky. We’re not that far from each other if we choose not to be. Don’t let borders keep you from connecting with those on the other side or to those who ave entered yours. I urge and ask us all to share the spaces we’ve been given.
I know that a dark history of pain and trauma can lead us to hurt one another, but a wise man named Martin Luther King Jr. once said “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”
There are things beyond our control, but please make your next step forward something that spreads light. We often ask for more sunny days in the midst of Edmonton’s rainy weather. With that, let us also ask for more light in the midst of our darker times.