________________ CM . . . . Volume VII Number 19 . . . . May 25, 2001

cover When Strangers Reunite.

Marie Boti & Florchita Bautista (Directors). Malcolm Guy & Michelle Smith (Producers, Productions Multi-Monde), Germaine Y.G. Wong (Producer, NFB).
Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada, 1999.
51 min., 59 sec., VHS, $39.95.
Order Number: C9199 069.

Subject Headings:
Domestics-Canada-Social conditions.
Filipinos-Canada-Social conditions.

Grades 11 and up/ Ages 16 and up.

Reviewed by Ian Stewart.

*** /4

Unfortunately, mainstream Canadian society knows few of the truths that lurk beneath the faces of our recent immigrants. Beyond our vague mythological assumptions, little real understanding exists of why these people came to Canada, what were their life experiences, and how life in their adopted country impacts upon cultural and family dynamics. In their poignant and enlightening documentary, Marie Boti and Florchita Bautista explore aspects of the hidden realities that Filipina women often face in Canada. The women portrayed in this video open our eyes to a new and fuller way of seeing and understanding the immigrant experience.

      Many Filipina women leave the families they love and abandon careers when they come to Canada to work as nannies or servants. They spend years alone, while sending their small earning back to the Philippines, in the hope that one day the family can be reunited. Although the reunions are joyful, Boti and Bautista show us that the years of separation often lead to fractures in the marital and family structure with these long separated wives and mothers becoming virtual strangers to a once loving husband and cherished children. The consequences are often painfully tragic for these women; however, support groups within the community are now being established to aid in the process of family healing.

      This is an important video for students from the majority culture and ethnic communities. It is easy to forget that immigrant experiences in Canada have never been blissful affairs; this film challenges us to understand and be empathetic to the hard realities women face in their new country. Students from immigrant communities might better understand the hardships their mothers and the mothers of friends have gone through in the hope of a better life.


Winnipeg's Ian Stewart is a regular CM contributor.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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ISSN 1201-9364