Eleven years ago, Mary Tecson left her auditing career, family, friends and home in the Philippines to immigrate to Canada. But in all that time, she has not fallen into a trough of culture shock or homesickness because her social and professional groups have kept her “sane.”
Since immigrating, she has continued to rely on her home-country relationships developed through her work, school and church while she develops new friendships in Canada. Even though she has successfully integrated into the larger society where she works as an Assistant Manager at a non-profit agency, she still keeps in close contact with friends and colleagues from her home country. She says they have helped to keep homesickness at bay.
One important group to which she belongs is that of her former employer, the Land Bank. The organization employs 8,000 workers in the Philippines, some of whom have emigrated to Vancouver, where they formed a social and support group for each other and for newbie arrivals like Mary when she arrived more than a decade ago.
“I kinda like to get the learnings from them,” Mary says, “As if I have a big book, I just open it and see all the learnings they have: hurdles, success stories.”
“Whenever I asked, they had something to tell me.”
The group holds meetings a couple of times a year for its members to connect and socialize. “There’s a summer party and a Christmas party, ” Mary explains. “We love parties. Every time we meet there’s always food and jokes.”
“You kinda feel you belong already. It’s like you’re at home.”
Mary did not limit her group participation to just one association. She also attends events organized by groups related to her university alumni, her province, her profession (auditors and accountants), a parenting group, a group of settlement workers (with 100+ members) and her church. Mary estimates there are more than 100 groups of these types in BC that provide similar support to members.
There are more than 850,000 people of Filipino descent living in Canada, according to Wikipedia. One-third of these live in the Toronto area while close to 100,000 call Vancouver home.
Many Filipino Canadians work in the health and finance industries. Several others are business owners. Qoola, a frozen yogurt provider, is one you may have seen. Goldilocks Bakery in Vancouver is another well-known Filipino franchise.