Cabinet committee on diversity and inclusion: Opportunities regarding immigrant children and families

November 5th, 2015

The Trudeau government yesterday released details on cabinet committees. Among them, one on diversity and inclusion, whose purpose is to “Consider(s) issues concerning the social fabric of Canada and the promotion of Canadian pluralism. Examines initiatives designed to strengthen the relationship with Indigenous Canadians, improve the economic performance of immigrants, and promote Canadian diversity, multiculturalism, and linguistic duality“.

Lots of opportunities here to address, support, and promote needs of immigrant and refugee children, youth, and families. In terms of improving the economic performance of immigrants, the Trudeau government is encouraged to (continue to) work with the early learning and child care community and implement a pan-Canadian child care system that is regulated, publicly-funded, high-quality, accessible and affordable, and culturally-appropriate.

Regarding linguistic duality, while recognizes that French and English are the two official languages of Canada, we invite the cabinet committee on diversity and inclusion to learn about the importance of supporting and promoting a child’s home language (or, L1 as it is sometimes referred to). Research demonstrates that children learning to speak a new language, who are supported and encouraged to use their home language, accomplish this task better. Communities and policies need to explore ways to help children retain their home language while they also learn the language(s) of their new home.


The Chair of the cabinet committee on diversity and inclusion is the Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship, John McCallum. The Co-Chair is Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage. Members of the committee include:

Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs | @Carolyn_Bennett |

Jody Wilson-Raybould, Justice Minister and Attorney General | @Puglaas

Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development | |@jyduclos

Marie Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie |  @mclaudebibeau

Maryam Monsef, Minister of Democratic Institutions | | @MaryamMonsef

Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities | @CQualtro

Patricia Hajdu, Minister of Status of Women |

Bradish Chaggar, Minister of Small Business and Tourism | @BardishKW

All Ministers and Members of Parliament can be written, postage-free, to: The House of Commons, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6.

New cabinet of the new Trudeau government & an opportunity

November 4th, 2015

New government! New opportunities! calls on Justin Trudeau, Minister for Youth, John McCallum, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, and Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development to create an inter-ministerial committee to support and promote immigrant and refugee children’s healthy integration into Canadian society.

Translating text platform supports newcomer parent involvement in school

October 10th, 2015

Developed in Silicon Valley, California TalkingPoints is a texting platform that allows teachers and parents to communicate with each other in their preferred language.

TalkingPoints is a top 10 finalist in Googles Impact Challenge Bay Area Awards.

Raise a Reader program supports child & adult literacy

September 24th, 2015

Raise A Reader is a good example of a multicultural family story time held for immigrant families and their children, birth to age five, at an elementary school in east Vancouver.

The New Yorker photo essay: Giving birth in different worlds

September 24th, 2015

From The New Yorker:

“The photographs in the series “Hundred Times the Difference,” by the photographer Moa Karlberg, capture, in closeup, the faces of women in the final stages of giving birth. Across the images, there is a range of expressions: grit and sensuality, trepidation and expectation, pain and elation. But in their intimate perspective the photographs emphasize the women’s shared experience—the inward focus and physical determination in their final, transformative moments of becoming mothers”.


Policy advice for the next/new #cdnimm minister

September 23rd, 2015

In a Q & A format, New Canadian Media have published a piece on policy advice for the next/new Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, post the Oct 19th federal election. It’s a thoughtful piece by esteemed policy wonks, Andrew Griffith, Robert Vineberg, and Richard Kurland.

I have a few additions to propose. I’ll use the questions that form the NCM piece.

1. What advice would you give an incoming minister of immigration and multiculturalism?

I’m delighted to see the premise of this question because the minister of immigration and citizenship ought to also hold the multiculturalism portfolio.

I support the expert’s advice to update the citizenship guide, Discover Canada, but I’d also propose both child (birth to age eight) and youth (eight to 18) versions. This could be a lot of fun!

2. Would you change the relative proportion of economic, family unification and humanitarian (refugee) migrants arriving in Canada every year?

I agree with Vineberg and would support an increase in family class. See the Canadian Council for Refugees item on family reunification. Policy responses related to transnational families, unaccompanied and undocumented children are also warranted.

3. What’s the ideal number of newcomers (including refugees) that Canada should take in every year (compared to the current average)?

Kurland’s response “No such thing as an ideal number” is valid, but Griffith’s suggestion provides a clearer direction: “Set in place an advisory body, broadly-based, that would review the social and economic integration data, nationally and regionally, to provide recommendations to government for longer-term targets and assess whether current levels and mix are appropriate”. I would hope that such an advisory body would, beyond recommending targets and assessing mix, also examine and recommend ways to support integration for immigrant children and youth.

4. Should multiculturalism be official policy? What needs to change?

As stated, multiculturalism is official policy and entrenched in the Charter. Changes may be warranted and I would propose that early childhood educators and primary school teachers – and parents – be consulted on how the policy can support and promote not only the theory of multiculturalism, but the importance of integration for newcomer children.

5. Should provinces and municipalities have a greater role in immigration? What role should that be?

Yes! Since provinces and municipalities have responsibility for education and health, and these areas impact young children and youth directly, these levels of government must step up their involvement and work to ensure that appropriate policies and programs are in place to support and promote integration, health and well-being of immigrant children and youth.

6. What can a new government do differently to enable “foreign credential recognition”?

The new government must put in place a pan-Canadian child care program that is publicly funded, regulated, accessible, affordable, not-for-profit, and community based. As newcomer parents navigate the foreign credential process (and later, as they enter the workforce), a high-quality child care program is critical. A truly universal child care program would also be culturally relevant and take into consideration the needs of newcomer children and families.

On refugee Syrian children

September 21st, 2015

The CBCs piece on “A young perspective on Syrian refugee children, past and present”.

Documentary in development: The Deportation of innocence

September 11th, 2015
The Deportation of Innocence tells the story of four children and their immigrant families in the United States as they come to terms with deportation and the long lasting effects this has had on their lives and answers the question, what happens to children after their parents are deported.

The documentary includes testimonies from lawyers, social workers, academics and who have firsthand knowledge and insight into the hardship of family separation and the challenges of reunification.

The documentary is complete, but producers have turned to crowd-funding to get this documentary out.

C4P 2016 National Metropolis Conference, Toronto

September 11th, 2015

A Call for proposals has been released for the 18th National Metropolis Conference, to be held in Toronto, Canada from March 3 to the 5th.

This year’s theme is Getting results: Migration, opportunities and good governance. From the conference website:

The 2016 National Metropolis Conference will focus on future immigration trends and policies and the challenges and opportunities that they create for Canadian society. The conference will include four plenary panels with distinguished speakers and workshop and round table sessions on a wide variety of topics related to immigration and diversity. We anticipate several hundred participants from Canada and abroad.

You can learn more about the conference and submit your proposal online at the conference website.

Child refugees

September 4th, 2015
World Vision:
FAQs: Syria’s war, children, and the refugee crisis
Save the Children:
Children of Syria: Migrant, refugee, child crisis
The Future of Syria: Refugee children in crisis
#ChildrenofSyria, Unicef

North American Refugee Health conference, June, 2015, Toronto

February 3rd, 2015

The North American Refugee Health conference will be held in Toronto, Canada from June 4-6, 2015. From the website:

“The three day event will focus on the best practices in refugee health. Lectures focus on contemporary issues in refugee health, mental health, OB/GYN, pediatrics, and primary care”. is happy to see that children’s health issues is a major theme and will be following the conference twitter hashtag #NARHC2015.

Paul Yuzyk award for multiculturalism

January 19th, 2015

Nominations are open for the Paul Yuzyk award for multiculturalism. This year there are 3 categories:



Lifetime, or Outstanding Achievement

Deadline is March 2, 2015