Ethnically diverse schools = less prejudice among young children

UK-based Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) has released findings of a study on the ethnic make-up of the school environment and its impact on children’s tolerance, prejudices and approach to diversity. The more diverse, the more children take on what the study calls an “integrationist orientation”.

The study found that children as young as 5 had an integrationist orientation, if exposed to cultures other than their own and that schools with a high ethnically-diverse make up had clear benefits for all children.

Lead researcher Rupert Brown, quoted on the website:

“We found that when the proportion of ethnic minority children in a school is at least 20%, both ethnic minority children and majority children tended to have higher self esteem, children had more friendships with children from other ethnic groups, and there were fewer problems with peer relationships such as bullying”.

“Our findings add to a growing body of evidence suggesting that the more contact children have with other ethnic groups, the more cross-group friendships they will have and the less prejudiced they will be”.

Resources from BRYCS

A few resources posted during a recent discussion on child care for refugee families from the BRYCS listserv. BRYCS is the US-based organization Bridging Refugee Youth and Children’s Services

Enhancing Child Care for Refugee Self-Sufficiency: A Training Resource and Toolkit

Family, Friend and Neighbor Child Care Providers in Recent Immigrant and Refugee Communities

Call for proposals: ISAP fall conference

Citizenship and Immigration Canada is hosting an ISAP (Immigration Settlement Adaption Program) conference Nov 3-8 and again Nov 25-28 to be held in Niagara Falls, Ontario. 

The conference theme is Building Canada’s Future: The Role of the Settlement Sector in Canada. A call for proposals has been issued which includes a request for sessions on children, families and parenting.

Deadline is July 31/08. For more information, see the posting on At Work.

Homelessness and housing: Immigrant, non-status & Canadian mothers

The Centre for Urban and Community Studies, University of Toronto will launch a report July 24th detailing a year’s study on homelessness and housing issues for immigrant, non-status and Canadian-born mothers with young children. From the announcement: “the results reveal the complex causes and effects of homelessness for families with children, and the ways in which these differ between women who are Canadian-born, immigrant women with status and migrant women without status“.  

The launch begins with a 10am press conference at the YWCA, 80 Woodlawn Ave in Toronto. From 11-1pm a lunch and learn session will include:

RSVP by July 18th to

Conference on ‘reasonable accommodation’

From Sept 25-26, 2008 the Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice will host the conference Reasonable Accommodation and the Role of the State: A Democratic Challenge, in Quebec City, QC.

No specific sessions on young children and/or families, but a section on “Education Services” includes consultants Bergman Fleury and Zanana Akande.

Related link: The Bouchard-Taylor Commission on Reasonable Accommodation.

Federal government launches consultation on immigration

Following the recent changes introduced to immigration policy, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, the Honourable Diane Finley is conducting a cross-Canada consultation to receive input from provincial and territorial officials, stakeholders and the public on how the changes should be implemented.

The changes will, according to the federal government, “reduce wait times so that families are reunited faster and skilled workers arrive sooner“. The consultation has 3 components: 

1. The Department will meet with the provinces and territories on the following dates:

  • July 7 ~ St. John’s NF & Labrador
  • July 9 ~ Halifax NS
  • July 10 ~ Fredericton NB
  • July 11 ~ Charlottetown PE
  • July 16 ~ Edmonton AB
  • July 17 & 18 ~ Winnipeg MB and SK
  • July 21 & 22 ~ Toronto ON
  • TBD ~ The Territories.

2. A national roundtable of stakeholders will be held on August 15 (by invitation only).

3. The public can participate by completing an online survey. The survey instructions include a request to confine comments in response to the questions posed. There are no questions about immigrant children or families or the family reunification aspect of Canada’s immigration policy.

Baker v. Canada – 10 years later

July marks the tenth year anniversary of the Baker decision. A milestone in both immigrant and children’s rights, the Baker case addressed the rights of four Canadian-born children to have their immigrant mother remain with them on Canadian soil, despite her foreign citizenship, illegal status, and the deportation order to return to her home country.

The Court ruled that immigration officials should pay “close attention to the interests and needs of children, since children’s rights and attention to their interests are central humanitarian and compassionate values in Canadian society“.

Ten years after Baker v. Canada, where are we with regard to immigrant children’s rights?

While Canada has long struggled with its immigration policy, it can be argued that Canadians have been fairly consistent – at least recently – in the value they put on children. Canada is recognized on the world stage as a champion for children’s rights. Canada was the co-host for the World Summit for Children and in 1991 was among the first countries to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Convention lays out the basic human rights to which all children are entitled: the right to survival; to develop to the fullest; to protection from harm; and to participate fully in family, culture and social life. Countries that are parties to the Convention are legally obligated to meet the standards set out in the Convention and the Convention applies to all children, everywhere. So in Canada, immigrant and refugee children have the same rights as Canadian-born children. So – does Canadian immigration policy line-up with the Convention? As part of the current immigration policy, the family reunification aspect has been seen as central and was recently cited as a key feature of our immigration policy.

The recent federal government budget bill – Bill C-50 – introduced major changes to immigration policy, with critics charging that that the federal Minister of Citizenship and Immigration will have far-reaching powers to hand-select immigrants, fearing that the family reunification aspect of Canadian immigration policy would fall to the wayside, giving preference for skilled immigrants to fill the country’s labour needs. The emphasis – critics charge – would be on based on an immigrants ability to contribute economically, and that bringing families together will no longer be seen as a priority.

The Canadian Coalition for Immigrant Children and Youth marks the 10th anniversary of Baker v. Canada by inviting Canadians to revisit Canada’s commitment to children as outlined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Children while considering the impact to children in the recent changes to Canadian immigration policy.

Harvard study on immigrant children in the US

The Harvard Graduate School of Education has released results of a 5 year study on immigrant children in the United States. Among the findings: immigrant girls tend to fare better than immigrant boys. A Newsweek article, reporting on the study, quotes researcher Marcelo Suarez-Orozco: “girls are able to retain some of the protective features of their native culture because they’re kept closer to the hearth while they maximize their acquisition of skills in the new culture by helping their parents navigate it“.

Related link: Immigration Studies @ NYU, devoted to the study of immigration with a focus on children, youth and families.

Alberta expands family sponsorship program

The Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program has amended its policies to allow “eligible Albertans” to sponsor family members, even those without a job awaiting them. Alberta Employment and Immigration Minister, The Honourable Hector Goudreau, in a news release entitled “Invite your uncle to pack his arc welder for a new life in Alberta“, says that adding to the family stream will support employment, “while creating more diverse and welcoming communities for all our families“.