The HCDSB Pinoy Project Report Summary

We’ve presented to teachers, counsellors, parents, students, and even trustees. Along the way, we’ve been fortunate to have so many people wanting to learn more about the Filipino community.

Filipinos are the fastest-growing immigrant group nationwide, and we hope that our findings will shed some light for educators not only in Halton, but across Canada.

You can read our key findings about HCDSB students and parents, and our recommendations for more inclusive schools here:

Report Summary, HCDSB Pinoy Project

“It’s time that we recognize that Halton is changing”: Presenting to Curriculum Consultants & Student Success Teachers

Before the school year ended, we met with the Curriculum Consultants and Student Success Teachers of the HCDSB. It was such an incredible experience to have an audience of school staff who are on the frontline of change, and who were eager to learn more about the intricacies of Filipino culture, economic issues, and the community’s unique immigration and settlement experience.


They didn’t know about importance of remittances, the prevalence of Overseas Foreign Workers, the shared experience of family separation– some of them didn’t even know about the Filipino love of basketball and hip-hop.

Our presentation featured our research, our experiences with the community, and even some fun Tagalog lessons to help staff make their students laugh.


After our presentation, here are some of the suggestions that they had:
1) More books on the Pinoy experience in all subjects
2) More Pinoy examples in literature courses
3) Culturally relevant & responsible pedagogy – teachers need stories from Pinoy students
4) Harness data from HCDSB Newcomer Centre
5) Teachers to get information from ESL teachers and consultants
6) Teachers need effective websites to use in class (documentary films, etc)
7) Pinoy students could be partnered with peer mentors
8) School staff to put a Catholic lens on dignity for all students
9) Strong teachers needed to advocate for the Filipino community


With high incomes particularly in Oakville, teachers were surprised to see that the Filipino students were not on the same economic levels as the other students.

“It’s time that we recognize that Halton is changing,” a Curriculum Consultant said.

A Student Success teacher agreed. “We need diverse material, diverse faces — we need to embrace diversity.”

With school-specific data concerning the Filipino economic, social, and academic situations, the teachers felt more at ease helping their students– and families– succeed in Halton.


One of the best parts of the HCDSB Pinoy Project is presenting our findings to school board staff, and opening the doors to discussing ways to better connect with Filipino-Canadian students.  If you’d like us to come to speak with you or your staff, please let us know!

The HCDSB Pinoy Project Reports Back

A young community organizer once told me, “Academics could change the world if they’d only stop talking to their peers.”

He explained that sometimes, academics create policy recommendations but only present them at academic conferences; that academics create reports and books but don’t impact any change in the community; that after academics survey people, they never share any of their findings with them.

With his words in mind, we’re proud to say that we are not those academics.

After surveying 343 Halton  Pinoy parents and students, we had two evening events at St. Thomas Aquinas and Jean Vanier to celebrate our heritage, to thank our research participants, and most importantly, to share our findings with the community.


After passing out copious amounts of fresh lechon, rice, leche flan, and bibingka, our community partners presented the various programs that are available in the Halton Region, from bridging programs for internationally-trained professionals to apprenticeship programs for youth.

DSCF0328 (1).jpg

In our survey, parents said that they wanted to know more about these things, so Carm Condo assembled the absolute right people to present.

DSCF0322.jpgAnd of course, there was plenty of time to socialize and meet new friends. With some families who had just arrived in Halton in the last few weeks, it was a great opportunity to get to know their new community.

Filipinos have been the top immigrant group in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2014, and our numbers are only getting higher.


In the auditorium, Don Wells explained who we had surveyed, and what they all had in common. Parents were really surprised that 48% of the Halton Pinoy youth arrived through the  Live-in Caregiver Program.


Halton is one of the richest areas in Canada. Philip Kelly explained that in Halton, the average household income is $119,403, but for the average Halton Pinoy who came to Canada under the Live-in Caregiver Program, their mean household income is $41,000.


We played a game called the 47% Card Game. When we asked the parents what job they thought their child would be in the future, only 47% of their survey answers matched with the students. So we passed out cards to each parent and student, and asked them the same question. Students: “What job do you hope to have in the future?” and Parents: “What job do you hope your child will have in the future?”

DSCF0359 (1).jpg

The winners of the game! We had an aspiring doctor in our midst. Students teased their parents as the most common answers were revealed: Nurse, Accountant, and Engineer.


Finally, Jon Esteban and his brother Ron gave some important advice to the students regarding aspirations, inspirations, and education. As one parent said, “More power to more Filipino teachers in Halton! They are role models to our sons!”


And that concluded the night! Much thanks to Carm Condo and Caren Menchavez for organizing two terrific family nights, and for all of their support to the HCDSB Pinoy Project!

Join us for Family + Lechon Night!

For the HCDSB Pinoy Project, we surveyed 128 students and 215 parents and guardians. Now that our research results are in, we can’t wait to show you what we’ve found regarding student success, family separation and reunification, post-secondary aspirations, and more, and all 343 of you are invited!

This type of research has never happened before in the Filipino community, and so we want to share our findings with all of you.

So please join us in celebrating YOU and your family at St. Thomas Aquinas on June 14, or Jean Vanier on June 15.

And because Filipinos love to eat (alam niyo!), the HCDSB is buying lechon for both nights, so come hungry!

Pre-register with Settlement Worker Caren Menchavez at today!

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 3.49.57 PM

Let the presentations begin!

With Halton Multicultural Council settlement workers and HCDSB staff.

This month, the HCDSB Pinoy Project was back at the Halton Catholic District School Board (HCDSB) with some exciting results to share with the staff. From settlement workers to ESL teachers, and even chaplains, it’s become apparent that this is a school board is very interested in knowing more about their students.


Our Pinoy Project data presentations opened up some incredible discussions with the HCDSB staff. Here are some of their questions below:

“Why do Filipino mothers leave their children back home?”

“Why do so many Filipino students want to go into nursing?”

“What can we do to help the Filipino boys?”

“How poor are these students before they come to Canada?”

“Why do some Filipino students feel like they can’t go to university even when they have the grades for it?”

It was really rewarding for us to be at the school board office and to present our results to ESL teachers for the first time. Soon, we’ll be coming to present to the principals and to the Filipino families, so get ready, HCDSB!



“We shouldn’t be placing ESL students in Applied based solely on their language. We have to look at their aspirations,” said Rob Piotrowski, ESL Lead.


HCDSB Pinoy Project debuts findings at Metropolis 2016

On March 5th, we debuted our preliminary findings from the HCDSB Pinoy Project at Metropolis.

The National Metropolis Conference is Canada’s largest annual gathering of researchers, policy-makers, and community advocates. It’s a 3-day event that draws people from all over Canada.

Metropolis 2016. Photo by J. Austria

At Metropolis, we told our audience that after we discovered that about half of the youth we surveyed came to Canada because their mothers were in the Live-in Caregiver Program, this opened up the possibility to compare two groups of Pinoy HCDSB student surveys.

So, we looked at the impact of the Live-in Caregiver Program on HCDSB students— on their grades, their after-school employment, their parents’ involvement in their education, in their goals for post-secondary education, and more— and found some interesting differences between them and HCDSB students whose mothers did not come to Canada as caregivers.

After presenting our findings at Metropolis, we can’t wait to show the HCDSB trustees, staff, and families what we’ve found. Coming soon!


Don Wells of McMaster University introducing the HCDSB Pinoy Project. Photo by J Austria

With a photo of Jean Vanier’s impeccable school lobby in the background, Don Wells spoke about the reasons why the project was situated in the Halton Catholic District School Board.

Presenters Christa Sato, Don Wells, Conely de Leon, Petronila Cleto, Philip Kelly and Jennilee Austria. Photo by Gina Csanyi-Robah

The HCDSB Pinoy Project team (Don Wells, second from left), Philip Kelly (back), and Jennilee Austria (far right) with other members of our  “Accessing Education and Training: Challenges in the Filipino Community” panel.


The Best Moment: “We’re kind of freaking out.”

The best thing about being in front of groups of Filipino students is watching their reactions the moment that they hear Tagalog.

You can see their expressions go from disbelief to wide grins.

“OMG what?”

“Did she just say–?”

“Someone Filipino is at MY school? Speaking MY language? YAAAAS!”

Sometimes, the students get a bit too excited, and it’s hard to get their attention back on us.

One student apologized like this:

“Sorry Miss, but we’ve never seen a Filipino at our school before. Not a teacher, not a guest speaker, not a custodian, not even a cafeteria lady. We’re kind of freaking out right now.”