tagalog in Canada
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley takes a selfie with members of the Filipino Canadian community during an event marking the inclusion of the use of Tagalog in the province's curriculum. Via @davideggen

Starting 2020, students in the province of Alberta in Canada can take their classes in Tagalog at select public schools.

Tagalog (also called Filipino or Pilipino) is one of two official languages in the Philippines. The other language is English.

The Philippines has 175 dialects actively in use across the country.

Rachel Notley, Premier of Alberta, made the announcement on Thursday, February 7, 2019.

The provincial Government of Alberta will launch a Tagalog language and culture program for elementary and secondary school students.

Some schools in the province with large Filipino Canadian student populations already offer classes in Tagalog.

With the support of the provincial government, school districts in Alberta can choose to offer the Tagalog language program to more Filipino Canadian students.

David Eggen, Education Minister for Alberta, cited demand as the reason for offering the program at publicly funded schools.

“I’m feeling excited just talking about it,” Eggen said. “It’s not just the language. Language is where culture resides, and also, teaching language is a sign of respect and acknowledgement.”

Publicly funded schools in Alberta are already offering different languages in both elementary and secondary schools, including Arabic, Mandarin, German, Italian, Japanese, Punjabi, Spanish and Ukranian.

Tagalog becomes the ninth language to become available in Alberta.

There are currently 170,000 Filipino Canadians living in the province of Alberta.

In the city of Edmonton, the second most spoken language is Pilipino (after English). There are 32,355 Filipinos living in Edmonton.

Alberta Government spearheads efforts to acknowledge the positive contributions of the Filipino Canadian community in the province

In her official website, Notely said that Canadian families who speak Pilipino at home will now get help from publicly funded schools in the province of Alberta.

Her government is spearheading the creation of a K-12 Tagalog language and culture program.

Meeting with the Filipino Canadian community in the city of Calgary, Notley said that “it’s such an honour to celebrate Alberta’s Filipino community this way. Filipino people have brought essential skills to our workforce, while adding so much to our communities.”

With more than 170,000 Filipino Canadians living in the province of Alberta, it seemed only right to acknowledge and celebrate the invaluable contributions of the rapidly growing Filipino community, Notley stated in her website.

Notley’s government was the first in Canada to declare June as Philippine Heritage Month on the provincial level.

Notley regularly meets with members of the Filipino Canadian community to determine ways on how to make the province of Alberta even more welcoming to new immigrants from the Philippines.

According to the 2016 census, 1 in 10 people in Alberta speak Pilipino. The inclusion of the language in the Alberta curriculum is seen as a means of “encouraging the transmission, growth and celebration of Filipino culture”.

The new curriculum will be available starting in 2020 at select publicly-funded schools in Alberta.

Notley said that “Alberta is a far better place thanks to the amazing contributions of Filipinos and other newcomers. We need to help families grow deep roots and keep adding to our social fabric.”

The Philippine Consulate in Calgary issued the following statement in response:

The Philippine Consulate General in Calgary welcomes the recent announcement of Alberta Premier Rachel Notley that the Province of Alberta in Canada will offer Filipino language and culture to students in Kindergarten to Grade 12 beginning 2020.

The expansion of the teaching of the Filipino curriculum at Alberta schools would open many opportunities to generate a deeper involvement of the Filipino community and ensure that generations of young Filipinos will continue to learn and appreciate their rich culture and unique identity. This move will be a source of pride to the Filipino community. It will inspire them to become more productive and responsible members of the Alberta community.

The Philippine Consulate General in Calgary encourages the Filipino community across Alberta to actively engage the local authorities regarding the introduction next year of the K-12 Filipino curriculum within the school districts where there are large Filipino student populations.

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