Doctor of Philosophy
Migration and Ethnic Relations
Canadian historical and national narratives often prize the creation of “White Canada” through immigration from European nations. Significant movements of people from the Asia-Pacific region often get left out of these narratives, even though Asian populations have been in Canada as long as white settlers. Furthermore, the growing body of Asian Canadian literature itself has developed a tunnel vision for East and South Asian immigrants, neglecting myriad other groups from regions such as Southeast Asia. While Chinese, Japanese, and South Asian immigrants have dominated immigration from Asia until recently, other groups such as Filipinos have long been living and working within Canada. Today, the Philippines is the largest source country of immigrants to Canada and yet remains one of the least studied ethnic communities.
This dissertation analyzes the history of the Filipino community in Winnipeg to the 1980s, as well as detailing their longer history in Canada. Today, Winnipeg has the third largest Filipino population in Canada, which is the largest in terms of per-capita population. The major research question, “Why Winnipeg?”, forms the heart of this dissertation. What factors in Canada and the Philippines have combined to create the historically vibrant Prairie community? This study first lays out the history of the community to fill a knowledge gap on the Filipino diaspora in Canada, particularly from a historical perspective, analyzing themes of post-Second World War international relations, labour history, and the history of under-development in the Philippines. This analysis argues that a serendipitous confluence of events led to the origins and growth of the Winnipeg Filipino community. After laying this historical foundation, the themes of identity and memory are explored. This dissertation adopts the term “Filipino Self” and the “Filipino Other” to describe how, through the medium of ethnic media, the Winnipeg community negotiated a Filipino identity in the diaspora that directly engaged with the Philippine national identity, demonstrating the tight connection maintained to their Southeast Asian homeland. The analysis then examines the dynamics of historical memory within the community, and the politics that come along with crafting such discussions, through the examination of a museum exhibit celebrating 50 years of Filipinos in Winnipeg.
Malek, Jon G., "The Pearl of the Prairies: The History of the Winnipeg Filipino Community" (2019). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 6193.