Over the past three weeks, incidents of street violence involving Filipino adolescents, and alleged members of the South Asian community have increased in the Côte-des-Neiges area. According to reports received by Kabataang Montreal (Filipino youth of Montreal), several Filipino youth have been involved in fights and were hospitalized as a result. In response to the rise in violence, Kabataang Montreal will be holding a press conference on Wednesday, September 23, 2009 at 4900 Fulton at 10h00 to call for an end to this pressing and urgent matter.
“We are deeply concerned with how frequent and severe these cases have become”, says Neil Castro, Secretary-General of KM, “We will not allow this situation to escalate to the point where more people get hurt. We need to talk about this issue immediately”. The Filipino youth hope to join forces with leaders of the South Asian community to address the issues of systemic racism facing the youth of both communities.
With the growing influx of immigrant communities, Côte-des-Neiges has become a densely populated area in Montreal where many citizens experience economic marginalization. For instance, Filipinos represent the largest ethnic group in the area, but despite their very visible presence in the community, they continually face barriers to their successful settlement and integration. Filipinos in Côte-des-Neiges represent one of the most educated and skilled groups in Canada, yet they face low wages and poor working conditions.
Their children experience difficulties in accessing education in Montreal, and as a result, have one of the highest dropout rates (among Filipino males) in high school in the country. These experiences are exacerbated by systemic racism and a severe lack of understanding among institutions and government officials about the realities that face Filipinos and other youth of colour.
Despite its growing population of the Filipino community, the city has provided few resources or infrastructure particularly for its youth sector. As a result, youth members are sharing overcrowded parks, where tensions are bound to build. “There’s a clear link between marginalized youth members living in a ghettoized, populated area and youth violence. This speaks to a lack of support for the youth” says Roderick Carreon, chairperson of SIKLAB-Quebec and founder of Kabataang Montreal.
While the recent events in Côte-des-Neiges raise serious concerns, it is important to note that these altercations have consistently affected marginalized youth across Canada. Cases like those of Jeffrey Reodica, Deeward Ponte and Mao Jomar Lanot are just some examples of violence that led to the death of these Filipino youth. Given these events, the following question arises: Why does the Filipino community, or members of the immigrant community at large, continue to struggle through these issues of violence? To blame individual youth members is an oversimplified answer, and one that does not address the wide scale barriers and issues affecting marginalized youth. If these cases are generating so many similarities and
are manifesting themselves across the country, there is an urgent need examine the factors that divides the community, and pits one group against another.
For more information, please see the press conference details below.
Press conference information:
Date: September 23rd, 2009
Where: 4900 Fulton
Contact: Neil Castro at 514-690-6345
Member Organization of Ugnayan ng Kabataang Pilipino sa Canada/Filipino
Canadian Youth Alliance