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Purple Rose Campaign - Canada report

This report is intended to summarize the activities of the Purple Rose Campaign in Canada from 1999-2001.

To date four major cities (Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa) have launched the Purple Rose Campaign in Canada. Activities have varied from fundraising dinners, concerts, silent auctions and forums. They are principally educational in nature and popularize the international and local aspects of the campaign.


The Philippine Women Centre of B.C. (PWC of B.C.) in Vancouver first launched its campaign in December 1999. Beginning with discussions on the Purple Rose Campaign concept paper, and other trafficking papers by Ninotchka Rosca, the PWC was able to educate its members on the campaign so they would be prepared to bring the issue, our analysis and our position to the community. Working on a committee system, the Purple Rose Campaign Committees did various pre-launch preparations, including contacting Nora Patrich, a well known artist, to create the Purple Rose painting, which was incorporated into a pin/pledge card and poster. The pin/pledge cards and posters would become the mainstay of the campaign, acting simultaneously as a fundraising and educating effort that we continue to today.

Preceded by a week-long art gallery of pieces donated for auction, the December 1999 launch included greetings from local politicians, a keynote from Ninotchka Rosca, the international spokesperson for the Purple Rose Campaign, literary speakers, a singer from the United States, a modern dance from renowned talent Alvin Tolentino, and a cultural presentation from the Japanese community. The event also included a silent auction of over twenty pieces from local artists. Over two hundred people attended. Local mainstream, alternative and Filipino media covered the campaign either before, during or immediately after, but our overall assessment was that more work needed to be done for mainstream media to pick up this important campaign. Working up to our next major event we continued to sell pin/pledge cards and posters at display tables or any events we were attending. We held a fundraising concert in March 2000 (to mark International Women's Day) with more performers than in December and another silent auction of donated pieces from local artists. The talent gathered was more eclectic and dynamic ranging from modern dancers (young and old), to up-and-coming bands, spoken word artists and other visual and musical people. Over 130 people came out to support our concert. The PWC of B.C. also emphasized the need to support GABRIELA by sending six women to WISAP 2000. At WISAP our delegates were able to present Canada's experience with the trafficking of Filipino women by sharing the preliminary report of our research "Canada: the New Frontier for Filipino Mail-Order Brides". At a meeting with the International Steering Committee (ISC) of the PRC in the Philippines held after the WISAP it was decided that the Purple Rose image created by Nora Patrich be the international image of the PRC. In August 2000 we held our first fundraising dinner as a follow-up to our events, and a report back for our WISAP delegates. In September 2000 after the Filipino-Canadian National Consultative Forum in Winnipeg, the PWC initiated a meeting with interested women and Filipino women's organizations to discuss the Purple Rose Campaign and delegates to share the experiences of WISAP delegates. In October 2000, in line with the World March for Women, and to also initiate an event in the name of the Filipino women's day of protest, the PWC initiated a rally with the Purple Rose Campaign leading the charge. It was the only militant women's action held around the World March for Women in Vancouver. In January 2001 the PWC of B.C. held its own launch of the mail-order bride research to discuss the issues and recommendations raised in the Filipino community. By March 2001 we also joined alongside other women's organizations like Grassroots Women, in a local march and rally demanding healthcare for all. Throughout this time we have also been in constant communication with other cities in preparations for their respective launches of their local campaign and Cecilia Diocson, member of the International Steering Committee, went to three other cities to present at their launches. The PWC was also a co-organizer of the North American Consultation for Women of Philippine Ancestry held October 5-7, 2001 in Seattle, WA, USA. This consultation, under the theme "Migration, Labour Export and the Traffic of Women", again provided the venue for the PRC to be highlighted. Our latest event was another fundraising dinner held with the Filipino Women's Day of Protest in mind last November 2001.

Overall, much media work has been done specifically on the PRC and through the mail-order bride research including Filipino, alternative, mainstream media on local and national scales.


In Montreal the Filipino organizations were also promoting the Purple Rose Campaign. It began by selling pin/pledge cards and poster they received from Vancouver. Later, PINAY (Filipino women's organization in Quebec), the Movement of Filipino Workers, and the Parents' Support Group joined together to support the launching of the Purple Rose Campaign in Montreal. Launched on March 17, 2001 the organizers had Cecilia Diocson present the mail-order bride research of the PWC, and Ninotchka Rosca speak on the issue of sex trafficking in general. Following the forum was discussion from some of the eighty people gathered.


The Pilipino Migrante Sa Canada (PMSC) was also very interested in launching its own local Purple Rose Campaign. From humble beginnings of pin/pledge cards and poster selling the PMSC slowly but surely began to organize its members and the community for its launching. Held March 18, 2001, as part of a jam-packed week, Cecilia and Ninotchka were again asked to present the mail-order bride report and sex trafficking respectively. The PMSC was able to mobilize over fifty people to attend.


The Philippine Women Centre of Ontario with the guidance of the PWC of B.C. also saw the importance of carrying out the Purple Rose Campaign in Toronto and launched its local campaign on March 24, 2001. Also beginning with initial fundraising of pin/pledge cards and posters supplied by Vancouver, eventually a local campaign was created. Prior to its launching the PWC of Ontario also held a discussion on the concept paper in October 2000. The initial meeting included the discussion of the hisotrical development of the sex trade in the Philippines, the history of the PRC, as well as its rationale, which also included local anecdotes of experiences or knowledge of those involved in the issue of trafficking. The PWC of Ontario also joined the World March for Women on October 17, 2000 which brought forth the PRC and our position on sex trafficking of Filipino women and children. By October 28, 2000 a slide presentation was held to celebrate the Filipino Women's Day of Protest. Slides from the WISAP 2000 were also presented as one of the delegates from Vancouver had recently moved to Toronto. Over time various studies on the roots of Filipino women's oppression, and two papers on trafficking (Genesis of the Sex Trade and Trafficking is Femicide) were also undertaken, alongside film showings. PWC of Ontario was also able to popularize the campaign through skits at local universities and display tables at supportive churches. By March 2001 the PWC of Ontario and the PRC were both launched in Toronto. It too released the PWC's research on mail-order brides in Canada with Cecilia presenting, and Ninotchka presenting as the international spokesperson for the PRC. Ninotchka began by presenting the political economy of prostitution and sex trafficking, and the place of the global sex trade in globalization and the Philippine govenrmen'ts LEP. Cecilia and Joy Sioson (from PWC of Ontario) followed the presentation with the situation of Filipino mail-order brides in Canada and its relationship to the Live-in Caregiver Program. Around sixty people attended the lauching, the majority of which came from the Filipino community.

Overall, the PWC on Ontario has also been interviewed on the PRC in the local media and will continue its educational work in the community.

We hope to strengthen not only local city campaigns but also raise the profile of the PRC on a national scale in Canada and have recently asked Monica Urrutia to act as the National Coordinator for the PRC to help galvanize our efforts.


Organizations in the Lower Mainland