Danielle Jade Laganson: A Blast from the Past

Danielle Jade, an Edmonton local artist.

You are staring at her old photo when she turned 18 some years back. Currently, Jade is a few semesters away from graduating as a nurse in Edmonton.

Like many stories of Canadian immigrants, we all struggled at the beginning of our new life in a new country on a frigid continent. I arrived in January 1998, 22 years ago in the evening, and I was wading through knee-deep snow on a -40 temperature. When I emerged from the airport, I thought my lungs will burst. I was suffocating that I went back inside at the waiting area to comprehend the reality I was facing; EXTREME COLD.

Along the course as a neophyte in Canada, immigrants like me will find new friends and starts building a family of strangers. I was meeting new acquaintances and peers as we walked through the system of employment we were both in as Live-In Caregivers. Being under this program, you have limited choices. You need to live with your employer's residence for a duration of 2 years until you can apply for landed status in Canada, and that's it. We were not allowed to attend school.

Danielle Jade competing in Las Vegas.
During weekends and on our days off, we must find a home to let us in and for us to reinvigorate ourselves. Some family households who were already established in Edmonton, allowed us in. One of them were the parents and families Danielle Jade. She wasn't born yet in those months when we were seeking comfort at her parents house. As Filipinos, we loved to eat together. It was a form of having to belong to a perceived family in a foreign land. Danielle Jade's parents who lived with their siblings in one house nurtured us like we were one of them.

Instead of wandering all over the place, we were "home" in a household who understands newcomers adjusting to new life. Our culture of being attached to a family, even in the form of new-found relationships between strangers,  is a nature Filipino have to survive and be resilient. Without accommodating families like Jade's family, we would be spending in bars and clubs, if we have nowhere to go in times when we were vulnerable.

Down the road, as we slowly planted our feet on the ground, we were then able to build an organization that supports our group. That time, my employer allowed me to rent an apartment so I could go home after work and we started advocating for our network. As we left the family that nurtured us, although they were not that far away, Danielle Jade was born. We then became her Godparents. 

Her baptism was the only time I saw her. After a brief cuddle of that baby in the altar, I moved to Ontario and haven't seen her since then. My friends sent me her picture as she was growing up. Facebook wasn't hat much then but I was always given updates about her.

She's a developing artist. As I watched her videos playing the piano and guitar, I can tell that she has what it takes to be an artist. She even competed at a Las Vegas music competition (Note photo) and although she didn't get the coveted winning, it was a proof that has a very strong potential to one day perform on a bigger arena. That is, if her dreams and passion of singing will not fade away, like most Filipino-Canadian artists, simply because the support of local talents are not there in our community. 

It's a challenged for advocates like me to push the importance and recognition of our local talents, not just because she is my Goddaughter, but because young artists need our support. They need a platform wider than the comfort of their homes but on a wider avenue where they can shine brightly for us.

Danielle Jade Laganson will surely be one of those who can play among the stars with her unique vocal style. I am waiting for her visit in Ontario and hopefully let her jam with some hand- pick locals? I know that she is a very private person and loves to sing for her heart's content. But passion can live forever...in her heart.


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