Canada grants citizenship to Santa

The federal minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, the Honourable Jason Kenney has granted full Canadian citizenship to Santa Claus.

Quoting Minister Kenney’s official statement in the Edmonton Sun: “The Government of Canada wishes Santa the very best in his Christmas Eve duties and wants to let him know that, as a Canadian citizen, he has the automatic right to re-enter Canada once his trip around the world is complete” (Dec 23/08).

From the Montreal Gazette: “Less than three weeks after the Canadian government proposed legislation to expand the country’s sovereignty over Arctic waters, its citizenship minister is shoring up Canada’s claim to the Far North by declaring Santa Claus, a longtime resident of the North Pole, to be a Canadian citizen” (Dec 23/08). 

To those who observe the holiday, Happy Christmas from

Vocabulary gap

University of Calgary Researcher Hettie Roessingh has received a grant to continue her research into the vocabulary gap among immigrant children. Funded by TELUS and the Alberta Centre for Child, Family and Community Research.

Roessingh’s research “indicates that younger arriving immigrant children perform less well academically than do older arriving immigrant children. Further, Canadian-born children of immigrants fare even worse in these tests, despite promising results in Grade 3 tests in literacy development.

“So what happens to these young learners? Roessingh’s research indicates that most lack the comparatively extensive range of vocabulary used by native English speaking children.

“The research shows that by age 5 or 6, most native English speaking children have a vocabulary of around 5,000 words. ELL children have significantly fewer English words”. (Source: UofC News Release, Nov 20/08).

Read more at the University of Calgary ‘what’s new’ pages.

Promising practices in integration

The Public Policy Forum, an independent policy think tank, has released a report: From Immigration to Participation: Promising Practices in Integration.

The report examined six priority areas as important factors in integration. They are:

  1. Employment programs and services
  2. Access to information
  3. Language acquisition
  4. Acceptance and understanding
  5. Role of the school system (K-12)
  6. Social support

The report identifies 4 major gaps and challenges:

Integration needs to move beyond settlement and be more proactive around “empowering newcomers”.

Programs must “promote interactions among newcomers”.

Innovation is important, but community-based initiatives need to demonstrate positive outcomes to alternative approaches.

Human resources in community-based agencies needs strengthening.   

Recommendations from the report:

“Promote the relevance and value of integration in order to foster mutual responsibility

“Offer more opportunities for two-way interaction

“Allocate adequate funding to encourage innovation”.

Transnationalism and beyond: Canadian Comparative Literature Association

Call for Papers from The Centre for Transnational Cultural Analysis in association with the Canadian Comparative Literature Association and the Association des professeur des universites et colleges canadiens .

From the call: “Transnationalism, transculturation, diaspora, migrancy, postcoloniality, ethnicity, mestizaje, multiculturalism, creolization, these are only some of the rubrics that literary critics employ as a corrective to the national paradigm of literary study and to call into question singular cultural, national and linguistic allegiances. Such terms are variously evoked in discussions of immigration, mobility, temporary and permanent forms of displacement, and other forms of cultural and geographic flow. Indeed, closely related phenomena connected to globalization are being analysed through divergent theoretical frameworks and the vocabularies that attend these frameworks. This panel will explore the root causes of these divergences in terminology. More specifically, we will ask:

·       “Do these terminological divergences point to different methods of literary analysis that offer distinct advantages or disadvantages?

·       “How much overlap or mutual influence exists among these models? Should there be more dialogue between them?

·       “To what extent do these critical vocabularies reflect divergences among disciplinary traditions or among national, linguistic and regional traditions of literary practice and study?

·       “Are there tensions created by the movement across fields and disciplines of vocabularies that have specific, local origins?

·       “What do these terms tell us about particular historical, geopolitical and ideological considerations and their impact on critical discourse?”

Proposals of 300-400 words to one of the following by January 15, 2009: 

Sarah Casteel,

Pascal Gin,

Bernard van Leer Foundation ~ Parents and professionals managing diversity in early childhood

The Bernard van Leer Foundation has released findings in a paper entitled Making Our Way, resulting from their 2-year long Parents and Diversity project. The project looked at building partnerships between childcare providers and parents and examined how childcare providers met the differing needs of an increasingly diverse population of parents and children.

The project sought to quantify parental involvement along four concepts of:

  • living together
  • working together
  • thinking together
  • taking decisions together.

A tool was developed by lead researchers for this initiative and provides an interesting way to assess parent participation. The report describes how practitioners, policy makers and researchers can move forward in terms of addressing diversity in the early years.

Of particular interest is Chapter 2: Partnerships with Immigrant Parents: No Standard Formulas. From the chapter:

“Even in standard educational settings, such as childcare centres, the pedagogic dialogue with parents does not appear to be as good as it should be … parents report that they have no say in pedagogic policy such as the content of the daily programme…. Generally, discussions are held with parents about caring for their children, but rarely is there any attempt at harmonising the home/school situation. Parents are seldom, if ever, involved in decisions on intercultural objectives and methods. The researchers say that many opportunities for educators and parents to help one another are being missed”.

Baby wants to learn your language

The Best Start Resource Centre, a program of Health Nexus Santé, has release a new informational brochure in PDF entitled “Baby Wants…” with colourful pictures and short descriptions addressing babies basic developmental needs. One of these is “Baby wants to learn your language”.

“Baby wants … to learn your language.

“Babies may begin to learn two languages right from birth. Learning two or more languages is not only a skill for later life, but can also help your baby to be connected to his family, his culture and other cultures. Toddlers who are starting to talk may mix up the two languages a little. This is normal. Over time, the children will learn to speak well in the languages they are exposed to. It is important to provide lots of opportunities in both languages.

“Here are some suggestions that may help your child use two languages in daily life:

  • “Visit your local library and ask for books or tapes in the languages you speak in your home. Read these books to your child.
  • “Participate in community events and programs that celebrate your language and cultural heritage. Many Ontario Early Years Centres offer resources in many languages and opportunities to meet with others from your community that share your language.
  • “Join parent groups where your language is spoken or start your own group.

“Remember, the best thing you can do to help your child learn two languages is to talk, sing and play in the language that comes most naturally to you. You will help your baby feel proud of your language and culture”.

Conference proceedings: Father Involvement Research Alliance

In October, 2008 the Father Involvement Research Alliance (FIRA) held a conference. The theme for the conference was Father Involvement 2008: Diversity, Visibility, Community. Presentations from keynotes, papers and other sessions are now available on the FIRA website.

Of interest to readers include the following (descriptions taken from the FIRA webpage):

Explaining Japanese Exceptionalism in Father Involvement by Scott North

In Japan’s households, most women and nearly half of men now disagree with the traditional division of labour. Practices, too, are changing: even women with small children are increasingly likely to remain in the work force. Social scientists hypothesize that changing gender norms and women’s increased income will lead to a more equal division of family work. But Japanese women still do about 90% of household labor, and, despite a visible increase in fathers’ child-centered activities, Japanese husbands still do far less than men in other societies. How does Japan’s division of family work remain grossly unequal? This paper presents evidence from the lives of a purposive sample of dual-income households with young children. Observations and conversational interviews reveal in the participant’s own words, how gender power is manifest in spousal social action and negotiations over who-does-what. The lingering influence of customary norms of male domination is related to an under-appreciated dimension of the problem: falling Japanese birthrates have transformed the male demographic so that 3/4 of men between 20 and 49 are first sons, a special position in Japanese family life that symbolizes the continued intergenerational transmission of male primacy.

Parental Engagement in Sudanese and Russian Newcomer Families by David Este

Immigrant and refugee male adults come to Canada with multiple identities, one of which may be being a father. Until very recently, research on refugee and immigrant men as fathers is quite limited in the Canadian context. Through a qualitative research study involving in-depth interviews with 20 Sudanese refugee and 14 Russian immigrant men in a large urban centre in Canada, this paper examines their perceptions and experiences as fathers. Insights on the meaning of fatherhood, values that guide their behaviour, their aspirations for and interactions with their children and the challenge they face as fathers in Canadian society form the specific content that will be presented. Implications for human service providers such as social work practitioners will also be discussed.

Fathering Experiences of Immigrant/Refugee Ethiopian Men by Admascu Tachble

Immigrant fathers have left familiar and cultural settings of their own and pass through a long process of adapting to a new context that requires reorganizing their lives in the new environment. The adaptation process may demand these fathers to make adjustments to their perceived role of a father. These fathers may be ill equipped and appear to be struggling to discharge their roles within the resettlement environment. Despite the increasing number of newcomers from diverse backgrounds to Canada in recent years, there is a limited research-based information and guiding professional literature that explores how immigrant and refugee men practice fatherhood. …this paper examines their perceptions and experiences of fatherhood in Canadian society. Insights on the parenting styles and obstacles facing these immigrant fathers as well as the opportunities and the aspirations they have for their children in Canada will be discussed.

Effects of Culture and Ethnicity on Father Involvement by Iraj Poureslami

The primary objective of this research was to examine how cultural, economic, and attitudinal barriers may impact fathers’ ability to engage in their children’s lives and how to improve measurement tools for studying fathering and related issues in ethnocultural communities. Four major findings emerged from this study. First, newcomer fathers were disproportionately under-employed. This was associated with being less supportive of their children than employed fathers. Second, fathers wre less likely to be aware of their children’s emotional and social life inside and outside of the home than were their wives. Thir, mothers were not aware of the life and work hardships and emotional distress their husbands reported. Finally, the Canadian version of the Achenbach Scales may not be entirely suitable to assess children’s health and well-being status in ethnocultural communities. Findings from this study support the need for developing programs and services to help support newcomer fathers in their parenting role without compromising their traditional family roles within their culture.

Terre des Hommes International Federation report: Protecting child migrants

Terre des Hommes International Federation has released a study on unaccompanied children, now available at the digital library. From the tdh listserv:

“Children who leave home and migrate, either within their own country or to another country, are entitled to far better efforts to protect them from abuse and exploitation, says the Terre des Hommes International Federation…

“In a new report, Kids Abroad, Terres des Hommes reviews a wide range of initiatives to support children who leave home without being accompanied by any other family member, discussing the situation in Western and South Eastern Europe and also in West Africa, Central America, South Asia and South East Asia…

“As a matter of public policy, most governments encourage children to attend school and to remain there, at least until they complete their primary education. However, millions do not do so and set out to seek their fortune while still adolescents or even before reaching puberty. While public policy may not want to approve or encourage their actions, thousands of NGOs around the world are engaged in efforts to protect and assist such children, particularly when they are far from home and vulnerable to abuse because they are cut off from the families or home communities who could help protect them.

“Recommendations include:

  •  More investment is required to develop techniques for protecting children who are actually in transit, moving from one place to another in search of a better future.
  • Better and more imaginative use could be made of communications and information technology to protect children on the move, notably by ensuring they can stay in contact with others while travelling and after reaching their destination.
  •  Not enough attention has been given to understanding indigenous practices which have the effect of protecting children from harm and which can be strengthened at relatively little cost”.

Policy research report: Immigrant women’s proficiency in English

Policy Matters, an initiative of the Joint Centre of Excellence for Research in Immigration Studies (CERIS) has published a summary of recent research on immigrant women learning English.

Reclaiming Voice: Challenges and Opportunities for Immigrant Women Learning English identified barriers and supports to immigrant women learning English. Principal investigator was Kenise Murphy Kilbride. The findings and recommendations resulting from the research have been made available on

2009 immigration levels for Canada

The office of the Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism has released news on the immigration levels planned for 2009.

Backgrounders to the news release include information on the ministerial instructions for visa officers to assist them in identifying applications that may be given priority consideration. 

‘Live-in caregivers’ continue to be listed as economic-class priorities. 

From the backgrounder, this information on family-class applications:

“Family class applications will be processed in the same manner and with the same priorities as usual. Specifically, applications for sponsored spouses, partners and dependent children shall continue to be placed into processing immediately upon receipt”.

Read the full ministerial instructions, as they appear in the Canada Gazette.

FRP Canada news

The Canadian Association of Family Resource Programs has released a new research report entitled “What Works For Who”. The report is based on a recent literature review on promising practices in parenting education, particularly in working with parents from ‘vulnerable populations’, including parents living in poverty and newcomer parents.

Also, FRP Canada has announced their biennial national conference will take place May 12-15, 2009 in Niagara Falls, Ontario. The theme this year is Welcoming Communities

Questions to Jill Heckman at 613.237.7667 ext 231 or