News Release

Government Leaders Recognize Filipino Community

At a special event hosted by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Toronto, federal and municipal government leaders paid tribute to the Filipino people of Canada and their contributions to the country.

In October 2018, bill M-155 was passed in Ottawa designating June as Filipino Heritage Month across Canada. Member of Parliament Salma Zahid (Scarborough Centre), who introduced the bill in the House of Commons, was the keynote speaker at the Filipino celebration. She acknowledged the Filipino community and their valuable economic, social and cultural contributions to Toronto and the country as a whole.

“The Canadian government recognizes the dynamic and proud Filipino culture and its contributions to the economy and interwoven fabric of Canada,” said Zahid.

Local Filipino Church members served an important role in bringing the community together to celebrate culture, heritage and social improvement. These members also voluntarily contribute in myriad ways to the spiritual well-being of their local congregation. For example, Bishop Ernesto Bornilla of the Scarborough Ward devotes many hours of service each week to people in need. One of his counsellors, Chito Millora, assists by ministering to the congregation, helping with job placement and aiding in other spiritual efforts. Maria Flores and Merlie Reyes, driving forces behind the planning and implementation of the heritage event, share gospel lessons on a regular basis through their Sunday School responsibilities. These and other Filipinos form a large and spiritual contingent of their local congregation.

Member of Parliament John McKay (Scarborough–Guildwood) also attended the Filipino Heritage Month event. He spoke about the passing of bill M-155 in the House of Commons: “You have to remember that in the chamber you have 338 representatives with around 400 differing opinions. For Ms. Zahid to get that bill passed was a remarkable achievement and an indication that we all acknowledge the tremendous contributions that the Filipino people have made to the well-being of our country.”

Toronto City Councillors Cynthia Lai and Gary Crawford (Mayor John Tory’s former budget chief) were also present at the celebration.

The mayor’s office contributed to the celebration by sending a proclamation that read, “Filipino Heritage Month coincides with Philippines Independence Day on June 12, a day that celebrates democracy, freedom and culture. It is a day to reflect on and learn more about the many outstanding contributions Filipino Canadians have made in our society and all over the world.”

Zahid additionally reported on a new Canadian program offered through Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada that will benefit many Filipino caregivers. Employed caregivers can apply for open work permits and/or study permits for their immediate family. This would minimize the chance of family separation, facilitating families to come to Canada together.

Bishop Bornilla commented, “Working together and supporting our local leaders on initiatives that make our families stronger is the Lord’s work. We are happy our government leaders recognize the contributions of the Filipino community by being with us here tonight and showing their support for strong families.”

The celebration featured Filipino historical displays, cultural songs and dances, authentic Filipino food and festive decorations. A highlight of the evening was a performance in front of the re-creation of a traditional Filipino grass hut, where Nelson Andaca, holding a red rose, serenaded Joy Lawson, accompanied by Chito Millora on guitar. The crowd cheered the familiar scene.

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints value the recognition and celebration of cultural backgrounds. By acknowledging our unique heritages, we learn to appreciate our diversity and understand one another better.

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.