On November 18-20, 2016, various Filipino youth organizations across Canada are gathering in Toronto under the theme Sulong Kabataan: Onward with the struggle for people’s liberation and democracy for a just and lasting peace. The national conference is initiated by ANAKBAYAN, an organization which unites Filipino youth from all walks of life – for genuine national sovereignty and independence, social justice, human rights and people’s democracy, and an enduring peace.
As students and young workers, Filipino youth are amongst the most marginalized sectors in Canada. “Thousands of young Filipinos are being displaced due to the persisting unemployment, poverty, hunger, and landlessness in the Philippines,” says Rhea Gamana of Anakbayan-Toronto. “Upon arriving in Canada, their troubles are not over.”
Set on the weekend of the observance of November 17th as International Students Day, the conference aims to spark a strong movement of Filipino youth and students across the country. “Young Filipino activist and community organizers have been at the forefront of various struggles in the country for decades — from labour, campus, gender and environmental issues,” shares Lesley Lauren, member of Anakbayan-Toronto. Sulong Kabataan celebrates the anti-imperialist and anti-colonial struggles Filipino youth have engaged in both in Philippines and Canada.
At the same time, the conference also aims to strengthen Filipino youth’s capacity as community organizers in their local neighbourhoods, workplaces, and campuses. Anakbayan emphasizes how this cannot be done without strengthening solidarity efforts with Indigenous and other oppressed sectors in an imperialist centre like Canada.
Sulong Kabataan intends to engage youth with interactive workshops and cultural performances to tell our stories as diasporic youth in Canada,” shares Gamana, “and reassert our role as active actors towards the community’s fight towards liberation and democracy.”