The Canadian Association of Family Resource Programs (FRP), with funding from Citizenship and Immigration Canada, have developed a resource kit for welcoming newcomer families participation in community-based programs. From an announcement (Mar 19/08) on the Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Promotion listserv:

“Over the past year, under the Welcome Here project, family resource programs and settlement agencies in communities across Canada have collaborated together to offer new and improved programs to newcomer families. The Welcome Here Resource Kit will share some of the lessons learned in these communities. The kit will also contain some useful tools for community programs including a multi-lingual welcome poster, multi-lingual parent resource sheets, ideas for preventing racism, a colourful brochure designed to invite newcomers to visit their local family resource centre, and links to other resources”.

Resource kits will be available on welcomehere.ca as of April 1/08. For more information, welcomehere@frp.ca.

Canadian Council for Refugees on proposed amendments to IRPA

The Canadian Council on Refugees (CCR) finds fault with proposed amendments to the IRPA tabled by the federal government (as part of the Budget bill, C-50) on March 14/08. In particular, the impact on children with regard to changes in Canada’s obligations to consider humanitarian applications from outside of Canada: From today’s CCR press release:

“These amendments take away the right to have an application for humanitarian consideration examined, even though this is the only option under the immigration law for many people, including some children seeking to be reunited with their parents,” said Elizabeth McWeeny, President of the Canadian Council for Refugees. “Again and again when we point out gaps in the immigration law, Citizenship and Immigration Canada tells us that humanitarian and compassionate applications are the recourse. What kind of a recourse will it be, if visa officers can simply discard the application without even examining it?”

The following are two situations where the law does not provide children with a right to family reunification and humanitarian and compassionate applications are the only recourse:

  • Under Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, separated refugee children in Canada cannot apply for family reunification with their parents and siblings who are outside Canada. The only way for these children to be reunited with their parents and siblings is through humanitarian and compassionate consideration.
  • The excluded family member rule (Regulation 117(9)(d)) keeps many children unfairly separated from their parents. The only way for affected families to explain why they should be able to reunite in Canada is through a humanitarian and compassionate application.

“Canada has an obligation, under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to consider the best interests of the child in any decision taken affecting a child. This obligation is reflected in the provisions in the Act relating to humanitarian and compassionate applications (section 25). With the proposed amendment, visa officers would no longer be required to consider the best interests of the child”.

Diversity and equity guidelines for childcare providers, Ireland

Released in 2006, the Diversity and Equality Guidelines come out of the National Childcare Coordinating Committee in Ireland (NCCC). From the website:

The guidelines seek to raise awareness of all diversity in the early childhood care and education sector. They provide relevant and practical information on the steps that can be taken to support equal and inclusive treatment“.

In the guidelines, diversity refers to: “The diverse nature of Irish society for example in terms of social class, gender, returned Irish emigrants, family status, minority groups and the majority group”. Equality refers to: “The importance of recognising different individual needs and of ensuring equity in terms of access, participation and benefits for all children and their families. It is therefore not about treating people the ‘same’”.

A useful document that provides a good introduction and context for addressing diversity in all its forms and that references current related policy and legislation in Ireland. A model to consider? What do people think?

Amendments to IRPA

Citizenship and Immigration Canada has released a statement about amendments the federal government tabled yesterday to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. From their news release:

“On March 14, 2008, the Government of Canada introduced legislative amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to modernize the immigration system, to ensure that families are reunited faster and skilled workers arrive sooner.

“One of the challenges facing our immigration system today is the large number of people waiting in the queue. This is especially a problem in the skilled worker category which makes up most of the backlog.

“Under the proposed measures, Citizenship and Immigration Canada would have greater flexibility in processing new applications, especially from skilled workers.

“The legislation is intended to provide greater flexibility in addressing a range of labour market needs. It will not apply to refugees and does not affect our objectives related to family reunification.

“Ultimately, this will result in reduced wait times and improved service. It will also help manage the growth of the backlog of applications.

“Once passed, the new measures will apply to applications received on or after February 27, 2008.

“Those who applied prior to February 27, 2008, will not be subject to the new measures and will be dealt with fairly under the existing rules”.

What do these amendments mean for children and families? In the FAQ, it says that “the new rules will “allow us to get the people we need” and “allow the Department to select among the new applications and choose those that best meet Canada’s labour market needs”. The FAQs assure Canadians that “The Department will maintain its commitment to the broad objectives of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act—supporting Canada’s economy and competitiveness, family reunification and protecting those in need. The legislative amendments are intended to respond to Canada’s labour market needs. It will not apply to refugees and is not intended to affect our objectives related to family reunification”.

The FAQ says the federal government will keep Canadian informed about the amendments through postings to the CIC website and the Canada Gazette.

Here’s the official transcripts from the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. Edited Hansard, Number 067. Friday, March 14, 2008

Mr. David McGuinty (Ottawa South, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the government is so desperate to close the door on immigrants that it will ignore the painful mistakes of previous Conservative governments that tried to do the very same thing. Diefenbaker tried to shut out immigrants by capping the system only to abandon his plan a month later because his policies were short-sighted and misguided.

Why does the minister insist on closing Canada’s doors to the newcomers we desperately need to fuel our labour and population growth even though history shows this is absolutely the wrong approach?

Hon. Diane Finley (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is absolutely wrong. In fact, last year this Conservative government welcomed more immigrants to Canada than has been done in almost 100 years.

Not only are we doing more, we are doing it better. In the family reunification class we have made that a priority and now cases are getting processed 20% to 40% faster than they did under the previous government. We are making great strides in cleaning up the Liberals’ immigration mess.

Mr. David McGuinty (Ottawa South, Lib.): Some progress, Mr. Speaker. The backlog has increased by 100,000 in 26 months. I would ask the minister to get to work and not by closing the doors on immigrants.

[Translation] Let us be clear. The Conservatives say that Canada has received 429,000 newcomers, but that number has been falsely inflated by temporary workers and students. Why is the government trying to distract people from its plan to significantly reduce the number of newcomers by fudging the numbers and tooting its own horn about its pathetic record on immigration?

Hon. Diane Finley (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, CPC): Mr. Speaker, our government has two objectives. The first is to bring more newcomers here to fill jobs and be reunited with their families. The second is to do it faster.

Let us contrast that with the Liberals’ record on immigration. They ballooned the backlog from 50,000 to 800,000. They took processing times from three to six months to three to six years. They voted against reducing the head tax that they brought in. They voted against launching the foreign credentials referral office. We are fixing the Liberals’ immigration mess.

Economic class favoured over family reunification?

Is the federal government changing immigration policy to favour the economic class of immigrants over family reunification? That’s what the liberal party is charging.

Due to what’s been reported as a backlog of some 900,000 applicants, immigration minister Diane Finley may soon introduce an amendment to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) to limit the number of immigrants. Critics believe it will also change the focus of the type of immigrants Canada will attract and process.

Liberal immigration critic and MP for Vaughan, Maurizio Bevilacqua is quoted in the Thursday, March 13/08 National Post: “The Conservatives are shutting the door on immigration because they fail to understand its importance to our labour markets and our nation-building. The lack of resources devoted to this issue shows they are not serious about immigration”.

Evidence? The story quotes a speech Minister Finley made last November in India, indicating that Canada seeks to attract “the best and the brightest”. But, only last week, the London Free Press reported on a story (A Family Again) about a Somali mother who was reunited with her children after 9 years. A Citizenship and Immigration Canada spokesperson is quoted as saying: “This is fulfilling one of our (goals) — family reunification.”

Let’s follow this one closely and keep an eye on what’s happening in Ottawa.

Through the eyes of a child: Refugee children speak about violence

The Child Rights Information Network regular e-bulletin has announced the availability of a new resource entitled Through the eyes of a child – refugee children speak about violence.

From CRIN: “Life for any refugee can be difficult; life for a child refugee is doubly difficult. As one young refugee told the UN refugee agency: ‘We are always living in fear’.”

The United Nations High Commission on Refugees organized a series of workshops over 3 years on the issues facing refugee children in 8 countries in Southern African. The workshops involved refugee children, honouring the United Convention on the Rights of the Child article 12 on the child’s right to participate.

UNHCR used a participatory assessment approach, involving children through art, asking children to express themselves through drawings.

“UNHCR sought to give refugee children a voice in defining and resolving their problems, and to ensure that their voice was heard by adults. Thus an important outcome of the participatory assessments was that the attention of camp and related personnel, as well as parents and caretakers, was drawn to the needs and rights of children and their obligation to fulfil them,” the report said.” The study concluded that the greatest impact of the participatory assessments was to give a voice to the children, which increased their self-confidence and the respect they received from adults. Field staff report concrete improvements in the lives of children and the approach is now being used by UNHCR in other areas of the world”.

For more information, contact: United Nations High Commission for Refugees, Case Postale 2500, CH-1211 Geneva 2 Depot, Switzerland, Tel: +41.22.739.8111.

Institute for Canadian Citizenship

“No country in the world welcomes more new citizens per capita than Canada”.

Upon leaving office as Governor-General, Adrienne Clarkson and her husband, John Ralston Saul established the Institute for Canadian Citizenship (ICC). The ICC seeks to engage Canadians in conversations about citizenship.

The ICC wants to “bridge the gap between the newly-arrived immigrant and fully engaged citizen“. The goals of the ICC are to:

• enhance citizenship ceremonies

• increase awareness of, disseminate information concerning and promote successful
grassroots immigrant support programs

• provide forums for national non-partisan information exchanges and discussions on issues
related to immigration and citizenship

• analyze and disseminate existing research on issues related to citizenship.

A sweet little slip of a statement by a seven-year-old at a recent citizenship ceremony is all there is with regard to children. This child’s positive experience likely does not reflect the reality of many children who arrive on Canada’s shores and seek citizenship. The child-as-citizen is an important addition to any discussion of “citizenship” and needs to be more fully addressed in this initiative. To contact the ICC: icc@icc-icc.ca.

Immigrant parents’ settlement experiences and contributions to children’s health

Immigrant Parents’ Settlement Experiences and Contributions to Children’s Health: Analysis, Knowledge Transfer and Exchange (2006-2007) has been posted in PDF on the CERIS website.

The study looks at the impact of adults’ immigration and settlement experiences on children’s overall health. Among the findings was that child health was positively related to how welcome the child’s parents felt in their new communities.

Authors are: L. Simich (PI), H. Hamilton, H. Fenta, (Co-Investigators); L. Marshall, Research Analyst.

More funding announcements from the federal government

Following on a post dated Fri Feb 22/08, more funding announcements from the federal government, including:

Feb 29/08 “Government of Canada announces funding to help newcomers settle in London, Ontario”.

March 7/08 “Government of Canada announces funding to help newcomers settle in Toronto“.  This funding was set for the YMCA Korean Community Services and the Korean Canadian Women’s Association KCWA Family and Social Services.

March 7/08 “Government of Canada announces funding to Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association“.

CBC Toronto series: Toronto’s mosaic, a reality check

CBC Toronto’s Metro Morning Ontario Today show is airing a week-long series on immigration, diversity and multiculturalism starting Mon March 3/08. CBC TV will air similar segments on the evening news. Radio-Canada will carry the series in French.

Toronto’s Mosaic: A Reality Check will explore the following issues:

  • Discrimination that new Torontonians experience.
  • Cultural stereotypes and neighbourhood enclaves.
  • Traditions – home traditions vs. Canadian traditions.
  • Racism.
  • What does it mean to become a Canadian?

The CBC website has links to several useful resources, including background, statistics, and links to sources with further information.

CBC news also maintains another good site with information (beyond Toronto) entitled “Immigration in Canada: From 1947 to 2017“.

On Thursday, March 6, the CBC will host a Town Hall and invites Torontonians to attend and participate in the discussion. The event will be held at the Glenn Gould Studio, CBC Broadcastng Centre, 250 Front St. West. The event begins at 7:30, doors open at 6:45.

Panelists include:

Let’s all call in to the vox-box and raise the issues of immigrant children. Here’s how to reach the CBC with your comments: 1.866.648.6714.

Call for papers: Intercultural education as social justice

Intercultural Education, the journal of the International Association for Intercultural Education, is receiving submissions for an upcoming special issue focused on intercultural education as social justice.

Intercultural Education is a global forum for the analysis of issues dealing with education in plural societies. It provides educational professionals with knowledge and information to support their contributions to critical analyses and the implementation of intercultural education.

From the call: “This particular issue will focus more specifically on engaging in intercultural education practice that purposefully transcends heroes and holidays or celebrating diversity approaches and that sets as its goal the establishment and maintenance of equitable and just learning environments for all students. We are looking for contributions that push the boundaries of intercultural and multicultural education, that draw on analyses of systemic inequities, that engage critical theories. We are interested, as well, in research articles that critically analyze dominant intercultural education discourses, policies, and practices especially those that may contribute to inequities rather than eliminating them”.

Topics include (but are not limited to):

  • Colonizing practice and policy analyses of supposedly intercultural or multicultural education practice or policy that reifies existing social orders
  • The corporatization and militarization of public schools
  • Critical analyses of popular existing programs and approaches to intercultural or multicultural education
  • Intersectionality of social justice issue, and particularly intersections of class and poverty with race, ethnicity, gender, (dis)ability, and other identities
  • Globalization and educational marginalization.

Articles are sought from an international range of authors from the intercultural education and social justice fields.Expressions of intent to submit, with a 50-word maximum description of the proposed topic and focus should be submitted to Paul C. Gorski and follow the submission guidelines.

Deadline for manuscript submission is November 15, 2008.