Toronto Filipino Community To Youth: Set Aspirations Other Than Working As Nurses, Nannies

July 28, 2015 News
A promotional image for Clutch, a six-month arts-based program for young Filipina women.

A promotional image for Clutch, a six-month arts-based program for young Filipina women.

A Filipino cultural centre is challenging youth to set their aspirations higher than what’s become a pigeonhole in their community: Working as nurses and nannies.

“Not that there is anything wrong with those types of jobs. They are very noble jobs,” said Nicole Cajucom, executive director of Kapisanan Philippine Centre for Arts and Culture. “But when you grow up with the stereotype that every Filipino in Toronto is a caregiver or a nanny, you risk missing out on so many cool things.”

The Kapisanan centre is offering two mentorship programs aimed at encouraging and challenging people 16 to 24 to up their career dreams.

One program, called Clutch, specifically targets young Filipino women. The other, called Navigate, is geared toward young men.

Apart from leadership skills, the six-month workshops give youth an opportunity to work with successful role models from the communities, Cajucom said.

Along with changing attitudes about the future, the programs allow participants to explore an array of cultural and artistic ventures.

Some younger members of the Filipino community feel disconnected from their culture, much like Cajucom did while growing up.

“You carry around some sort of a cultural shame, and always feel like ‘my parents are Filipino but I am Canadian,’” she said.

The workshops offer a chance for youth to learn how to better express themselves without feeling that shame, Cajucom said.

The youth involved will form a key component of this year’s KULTURA, a festival that showcases the Filipino community through music, poetry, spoken word, performance and food.

The festival, running in early August, is another way of showing how the rich heritage of people’s native countries has been woven into the cultural fabric of Toronto, Cajucom said.