Members of Filipino Culture Club. Image: Jessica Xiong

With over fifteen hundred students, MGCI consists of a diverse mix of students from different backgrounds, and accordingly has several clubs aiming to promote cultural acceptance.The Filipino Culture Club is one such club. It was founded by MGCI’s Student Activity Council (SAC) two years ago and consists of twenty-five students.

Garneau has several other clubs, including the Black Students Union (BSU) and the Muslim Student Association (MSA), which are directed at specific cultural groups. MSA President, Mohammad Dawaghreh talked about the importance of these clubs, saying that they “give students a sense of unity in one way or another. We aren’t only focusing on celebrating our culture, we like to spread it. It brings students together.”

Fostering togetherness is also one of the main aims of the Filipino Culture Club. Staff advisor Ms. Abrazhevich said that in addition to building a sense of community, she hoped students would gain skills such as “teamwork, leadership, responsibility, and collaboration,” by joining the club.

While membership is not restricted to Filipino students, the club’s goal is to give Filipino students an environment to meet other Filipinos who share the same language and culture, as well as to create awareness of their culture. Club President Joel Vidad said, “I feel that students that come here from the Philippines want to find a way to adjust to their new life here in Canada. I really wanted to run this club to create a sense of community within the school to help students feel welcome and integrated.”

During weeks where they don’t have an upcoming project, meetings are a chance for the students to relax and socialize. They play games such as “Kahoot!” an interactive quiz game, and “Bring Me,” in which teams try to collect specific items and bring them to the front before other teams. The club also participated in the recent Unhealthy Food Sale organized by SAC and sold only Filipino food items, including Filipino crinkle cookies and wafers.

The money raised from the Unhealthy Food Sale will be sent to charities in the Philippines to aid typhoon victims. In September 2018, Typhoon Mangkhut struck the south-eastern coast of Asia causing over 1.5 million people to be displaced from their homes in the Philippines. Joel said that the club was really motivated to fundraise as they knew that they were making a real difference. He added, “Seeing our club members fundraising for a cause that they really care about put a smile on my face.”

The club is currently planning other initiatives for the future, and wants to organize volunteering opportunities within the local community. Joel talked about his ambitions for the club’s future, saying, “We plan to hold Filipino Culture events within our school, where our goal is to increase the awareness of Filipino presence at Marc Garneau.” They plan to organize a Filipino students vs. teachers volleyball game as well as a Christmas Party. The Filipino Culture Club encourages students to join their community at meetings every Wednesday at lunch in Room 303.