Symposium on Filipino/a lives in Canada brings scholars to the University of Toronto

Spectres of In/VisibilityOn October 23, 2009, emerging and leading scholars from Toronto and beyond will be convening at the University of Toronto for the “Spectres of In/Visibility: Filipina/o Lives in Canada” symposium. A historic first, the symposium seeks to assess and further develop the field of Filipina/o Canadian studies and to address the general absence of intellectual and policy discussions on the experiences of Filipinos in the Canadian context. The Filipino community is the third largest non-European ethnic group in Canada, with a population of just over 327,500. Despite being highly educated (31% have university degrees) and well employed (72% participate in the labour force), Filipinos in Canada make $5000 less than the national average income. The Filipino community in Canada is also highly gendered, with 57% of its population being women (compared to 51% of the Canadian population). Many of these women have come to Canada through the Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP), a controversial federal work program that has garnered considerable attention in the media in recent months.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the symposium addresses migration and labour issues, but it also goes beyond these to showcase a much wider array of topics. A doctoral student at the University of Toronto says that this is necessary in order to move beyond the skewed media and policy discussions of the LCP and youth violence. She notes, “while the experiences of caregivers and at-risk youth are important, we want to go beyond stereotypical ‘nannies and gangsters’ representations and explore the complexities of Filipino/a lives in the Canadian context.”

Roland Sintos Coloma, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Equity Studies at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education and the only Filipino faculty member at the University of Toronto, says that the symposium was developed out of a desire to make space for emerging scholars of Filipino studies in Canada. In 2008, he convened the Kritikal Kolektibo, a group of graduate students and faculty members whose respective research interests deal with Filipino lives in Canada and the diaspora. He adds, “The symposium brings in senior Filipino scholars from other Canadian universities to engage with the emerging scholars in the group. We want to develop a national academic network to support Filipino/a Studies in Canada.”

The symposium is open to the public. It will be held on October 23, 2009 at the University of Toronto from 8am to 7:30pm. As space is limited, registration in advance of the conference is mandatory. The registration form and symposium schedule are available online at: http://www.oise.utoronto.ca/rsc/filcan2009/index.html.

Contact: Dr. Roland Sintos Coloma Assistant Professor, Sociology and Equity Studies Ontario Institute for Studies in Education / University of Toronto 416.978.0462 roland.coloma@utoronto.ca