Decades of Filipinos drawn to Manitoba

From nurses to garment workers, doctors and lawyers, hundreds of thousands of Filipinos have immigrated to Canada. Mark Neufeld explores why Manitoba is home to more Filipinos per capita than anywhere else in the country.

By Mark Neufeld

As Filipino Heritage Month continues, we’re here in Manitoba which is home to the largest Filipino population per capita in the country. So what is it about Manitoba that has encouraged the Filipino community to come here, and make the prairies home?

“It’s definitely not the weather, but the topography of Manitoba reminds them of the countryside living back in the Philippines,” said Dante Aviso, board of directors, Philippine-Canadian Centre of Manitoba.

Dante Aviso came to Manitoba with his parents in 1984 and says the province’s rural landscape was familiar to many Filipinos arriving like himself who choose to stay and make Manitoba their home.

Aviso says the first major wave of Filipino migration to Manitoba occurred in the 1950s when a number of nurseS and doctors arrived. That was followed a decade later by a surge of Filipino immigrants who came to work at garment companies when Winnipeg had a thriving clothing manufacturing industry.

“And then in the ’90s, the Manitoba government introduced the Manitoba nominee program where there was a sudden influx of Filipino families here in Canada that we’re able to sponsor their relatives, even their cousins,” added Avios.

Rod Cantiveros came to Manitoba with his wife in 1974 with no expectation he would spend the rest of his life here.

“To my surprise, there were so many Filipinos waiting for us in the airport.”

Now, at 80-years-old Cantiveros still remembers the surprise he felt stepping off the airplane at 3:00 in the morning and being greeted by a large group of Filipinos. Cantiveros says the tight-knit nature of the Filipino community in Winnipeg decades ago is what continues to attract Filipinos to the area in large numbers today.

“We are much closer to each other, unlike the traditional Vancouver, Toronto Montreal, they were spread out. In terms of the Filipinos in Winnipeg we are much closer in terms of relationships,” explained Cantiveros.

Dr. Roland Swatzky curator of history at the Manitoba museum says a newly developed exhibit on display at the Winnipeg gallery celebrates the stories of immigrants, including those from the Philippines. Perla Javate is featured in the exhibit, she moved to Winnipeg in 1976 and began working in the Winnipeg one school division. Java is well known for promoting Filipino culture.

“The Filipino community is of course a huge part of Winnipeg’s fabric now,” said Sawtzky.

“And she was a big part of bringing heritage month to Winnipeg in 2019 so she’s been just a huge leader in the community and we are proud to have her on our wall.”

As for Cantiveros, he expects the population of Filipinos in Manitoba will continue to increase, and the province will continue to be home to the most Filipinos per capita in Canada.

“It will grow exponentially.”

Top Stories

Top Stories

Most Watched Today