May is Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month! Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is an opportunity for all Canadians to learn more about the many achievements and contributions of Canadians of Asian descent who, throughout our history, have done so much to make Canada the amazing country we share today.
To celebrate, we are featuring Cultures Connected, the Employee Resource Group for ACPI team members at REX, with Q&A about their heritage. Read Nicole’s responses below!
Tell us a little bit about you and your background:
I was born in Manila (Philippines) before moving to Canada when I was a toddler with my family. I grew up in Surrey, a city abundant with visible minorities and I’ve always been proud to have been raised amongst so much cultural diversity, including our own Filipino-canadian community.
Was there a stage in your life when you truly began to embrace your heritage and culture?
I began to embrace my culture in my early to mid 20’s and I think that I am still in that process of really exploring that side of me. For a long time I thought I wasnt filipino enough to say im filipino but I wasn’t really canadian either. I both belonged and felt left out. Now I’ve come to the understanding that I am a woman of two. I can have maple syrup on my pancakes in the morning and Ginataang Kalabasa with my rice at dinner. I think thats pretty cool.
Does your family celebrate traditions that are special to you?
Christmas eve is a day filled with cooking and prepping meals together as a family. Typically I make the Leche Flan (dessert) and my mom and brother make the entrees – usually it’s a combination of pancit (filipino noodles), roasted ham, pasta, mashed potatoes and more. Then at midnight we all gather for the big feast to celebrate Christmas.
Did you have an ACPI role model, someone you looked up to growing up, and are inspired by?
Margaret Cho! When I first saw her on Drop Dead Diva ( a meh-TV show from 2009) and then later in her stand-up routines, I was so excited to see an asian woman, covered in arm tattoos that was funny and snarky and loud. She was the opposite of the quiet, well-behaved, small Asian girl stereo type of the time. It was refreshing and as a young, impressionable teenager, it gave me so much encouragement.
What ACPI resources do you recommend to help educate others?
Google and Wikipedia. If you are interested in your cultural heritage, then I would encourage you to read up on the history of where your family comes from. It’s super insightful.