Several hundred people of Filipino descent live in the Vernon area – Vernon News

Celebrated in June each year, Filipino Heritage Month celebrates one of Canada’s fastest growing multicultural communities.

Unfortunately, Filipino immigration to the Okanagan, and particularly to Vernon, is not as well documented as other cultural groups. However, as of 2016, Vernon had a Filipino population of 370 people.

Canada’s earliest documented Filipino immigrants were seafarers living and working on the west coast, and by the 1930s almost all were male.

The population steadily increased over the years, and in the 1970s 16,913 Filipinos lived in Canada. By 2016, that number rose to 837,130.

Vernon has an active Filipino community, with groups like the Filipino Association of Vernon (FAV) spearheading anti-racism initiatives and fundraising for families and friends affected by natural disasters in the Philippines.

In November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan (also known as Yolanda) made landfall in the Philippines, displacing 4.1 million people, killing more than 6,000 and leaving 1,800 missing.

Vernon’s Filipino community quickly mobilized, raising $26,000 in emergency relief through a series of community events.

In 2020, a further $1,315 was raised through a virtual Christmas concert for those affected by Typhoons Rolly (Goni) and Ulysses (Vamco).

Meanwhile, in May 2021, the FAV launched its first Stand Up Against Racism initiative with a paddleboarding event at Kal Beach. Later that year, they also joined other local community groups to produce Allyship in Action, a short film sponsored by the Social Planning Council for the North Okanagan that showcases the harmful effects of racism and initiatives to combat it.

In terms of a local success story, Rosalinda Smelser, a local businesswoman who was born in Mainit, Surigao Del Norte Province, Philippines, might be the place for you.

Rosalinda, who runs the diner of the same name, moved to Vernon in 1999 and opened her shop in 2011. Rosalinda’s at 2810 33rd St. serves both Canadian classics and Filipino favorites.

Gwyn Evans is the Research and Communications Coordinator at the Vernon Museum and Archives.

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