An important message from CCICY

An important message from the Canadian Coalition for Immigrant Children and Youth (from Barbara Burnaby)

Dear CCICY Members:

As the federal election approaches, there are several immigration issues that candidates should be addressing. Please see the information below for an overview of the issues and some ideas for questions to adk your candidates.

Immediate Action Urgently Needed for Immigrant Children and Youth:

– greatly extended federal funding for settlement programs for immigrant young people;

– federal initiatives for coordinated and collaborative action with provincial governments regarding education issues for immigrant children and youth.

– immigrant children and youth are a rapidly growing group with major barriers to their integrating into Canadian society as a result of: gaps in education, family poverty, poor prospects for employment, and discrimination in the community. The social, economic and political consequences of ignoring the needs of immigrant children and youth creates risks, on the one hand, of foregoing their potential contribution to this country and, on the other, of allowing the growth of a sizeable group of distressed and disaffected citizens.

What Needs to be done for Immigrant Children and Youth?

– action on identified, needed services;

– stop using the constitutional separation of powers of federal government (immigration) and provincial governments (education, social services) as an excuse for not coordinating services;

– deal with systematic resistance to needed forms of integrative services and send clear messages about the vital role of immigration to the future prosperity of Canada;

– turn around the trend that has sacrificed services for immigrant children and youth to the short-sighted belt-tightening fiscal policies of the last decade;

– increase service sector knowledge about the crisis for immigrant children and youth and expand the research that back this up – NOW.

Questions for Candidates:

Literacy & Language

All objective measures show that newcomer children learn English better and faster when they are also supported in retaining their home language. Work with immigrant families shows that the home language often takes second place and, as a result, these languages are forgotten and lost. What would your party do to support early childhood educators and elementary school teachers in promoting the use of home languages in family homes and in early learning and child care settings?

Early Learning & Child Care

Over 20 years of evidence-based research tells us that children benefit from high quality early childhood care and education and that families benefit from being supported in their role as parents. For newcomer families, the local child care centre is often the first point of entry to the community and serves as an important support. The Liberal Party puts child care on the agenda every election and yet fails to implement the pan-Canadian child care system needed. The Conservative Party thinks child care comes in the mail. What would your party do to support and promote early learning and child care for all families?

Bill C-50

Immigrant serving organizations were unanimous in decrying the changes to Canadian immigration policy as introduced and passed in the budget bill, Bill C-50. For the Conservative Party: The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration recently conducted a cross-Canada consultation seeking input on how to implement the proposed changes in Bill C-50. What kinds of explicit instructions can Canadians expect with regard to protecting the family reunification aspect of our immigration policy? For the Liberal Party: How does your party justify its lack of action on Bill C-50? For all other parties: What would your party do to ensure family reunification remains a central component in our immigration policy?

Political Representation

What has your party done and what will it do to increase immigrant/newcomer representation? How many visible-minority candidates is your party running in this election?

UNICEF news release on UK commitment to protecting rights of immigrant children

UNICEF Applauds UK Commitment to Protecting Rights of Immigrant Children

“NEW YORK, 22 September 2008 – UNICEF applauds the decision by the British government to grant children seeking asylum, migrant children, and those who have been trafficked into the UK the same rights as British children, including their right to education, health care and social services. The government also removed its reservation to article 37(c) on children in custody.

“The move, made over the weekend, signals the government’s full commitment to supporting children’s rights as laid out in the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). The decision paves the way for vulnerable children who are subject to immigration control to enjoy the fundamental human rights spelled out in the Convention for every child, and to ensure that children who find themselves in trouble with the law are kept separate from adult prisoners”.

Child migration report by Save the Children, Sweden

Child Migration and the Construction of Vulnerability, Save the Children, Sweden, “attempts to look beyond the current emphasis of child migration (mainly trafficking of children for sexual purposes, unaccompanied asylum seekers and refugee children), to consider the broader context including when and why migration violates the rights of the child“.

First presented at the Focus on Children in Migration conference in Poland in 2007, the report demonstrates the need for more research on children and migration. As the introduction to the report says “Many reports are available on migration in general but rarely integrate the consequences of migration for children“.

Canadian Council for Refugees fall consultation & 30th anniversary gala

Canadian Council for Refugees Fall Consultation and 30th Anniversary Gala

30 Years of Building a Home of Justice for Refugees and Immigrants

27-29 November 2008

Why attend? Here’s what some people liked best about past Consultations:

“For refugee participants, I got a sense of a positive empowerment. It feels good to know that our concerns are heard and that our daily challenges are considered in national forums and at political levels”.

“Listening to various views and people’s positions on issues that pertain to refugees and immigrants. It is great to hear voices in Canadian civil society shaping policy”.

“As a relative newcomer to CCR,  I found this to be a friendly environment where I felt encouraged to participate”.

The Consultation is an excellent opportunity for all interested to exchange ideas on barriers refugees and newcomers to Canada face before, and after their arrival in Canada. Consultation participants include refugees, immigrants, representatives of NGOs, youth advocates, government, UNHCR, academics and international guests.

Consultation discussions will address issues that challenge refugees, immigrants, advocates and community workers. In addition to larger plenary sessions, workshops and working sessions will produce strategies for further collaboration and specific actions.

Information about the Consultation, including online registration are now available on the CCR website. Register before 7 November for reduced fees.

Coinciding with the Consultation, we will be hosting an evening gala on 27 November to celebrate the achievements of the CCR and strengthen the organization for the future, by increasing our profile and recruiting new donors.  Join the celebration! Buy a ticket, table, sell tickets to people who should be introduced to the CCR, or put us in touch with potential sponsors.

For more information, please contact Jehad Aliweiwi  416.275.9363 / or Loly Rico 416.469.9754 /

Fostering language acquisition in daycare settings

From the Bernard van Leer Foundation, a report on 2nd language acquisition. Fostering Language Acquisition in Daycare Settings looks at the research on migrant children and “explores the course and duration of second language acquisition, as well as the common linguistic behaviours that may arise. Conditions that influence children’s adoption of a second language and culture are then examined, as well as similarities and differences between first and second language acquisition“.

Child rights situation analysis

Save the Children, Sweden have produced a toolkit for organizations interested in conducting what’s called a child rights situation analysis – or, a way to collect relevant information, identify key issues, establish priorities to enable an assessment of what action steps ought to be taken to improve the lives of children.

Featured in the resource is child rights program principles – CRP. CRP outlines the relationship between the rights holder and the duty bearer. The principles include:

Children’s right to have their best interests considered as a primary consideration in any decision-making which affects them

Children’s right to the maximum available resources for their survival and development

Children’s right to have their views heard in decision making when it affects their lives

Children’s rights to be protected against all forms of negative discrimination and to be positively discriminated against when at a disadvantage, relative to other children

The duty bearer is accountable to respect and for the protection and fulfillment of the rights of the child.

Read about and download the toolkit from the Child Rights Information Network.

The Liberal Party immigration plan

<An update for my blog visitors, Jan 24, 2010: From the stats, I see there are many visitors to the blog looking for the “Liberal party immigration plan”. I’ve been searching for some time now and even sent an email to the federal Liberal party last fall to inquire. I have had no response. Once I find it/get a response, I’ll be sure to update the blog here and on the main site (as well as through my twitter account)>.


“Immigration: Welcoming New Canadians for a successful Canada”, the Liberals plan for immigration, was released today and is also referred to in our ELECTION ~ Fall ’08 page.

The Liberals appear to be taking the same tact as the Conservatives. Maybe that’s why they didn’t vote against Bill C-50?  Seems to be agreement that Canada needs certain types of immigrants to meet Canada’s labour needs. Sound familiar?

Also, no mention of the family reunification aspect of our immigration policy. Here’s what is said:

“We need to reduce the current backlog, modernize our immigration system, and help new Canadians succeed once they are here. The result will be a stronger economy and a fairer country”.

This indeed sounds familiar. Here’s what the Conservative government said about the changes to immigration policy embedded in Bill C-50 (which the Liberals did not vote against):

“The changes aim to modernize Canada’s immigration system and shorten the time it takes to immigrate to Canada….The legislative amendments, combined with the 2008 budget funding, are necessary to better manage applications, to be more responsive to the labour market…”.

CCR questions for federal candidates

The Canadian Council on Refugees has posted a fact sheet and series of questions for political parties and candidates on immigration and refugee issues for the upcoming 2008 federal election. Questions specifically related to children and families include the following: See the ELECTION ~ Fall ’08 page (to the right) for more questions for candidates and parties.

TRAFFICKING: Will you support the Canadian Council for Refugees’ proposal for legislative amendment to protect trafficked persons in Canada?

Background: Currently, immigration legislation provides no specific measures to protect trafficked persons.  This means that trafficked persons, after being abused and exploited by their traffickers, may be simply detained and deported by the Canadian authorities.  For example, this summer an 11-year-old girl, who was a suspected victim of trafficking, was detained for over a month by Canadian immigration authorities.

The Canadian Council for Refugees has developed a proposal to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act  in order to provide temporary and permanent protection to trafficked persons.

REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT: Will you support an increase in the numbers of refugees resettled to Canada (including Iraqi refugees)?

Background: The UN Refugee Agency has recently estimated the number of refugees in need of resettlement at 560,000, a huge increase over previous years.  The Iraqi crisis has led to two million refugees fleeing to neighbouring countries.  Canada has not responded in any significant way to this crisis, unlike similar situations in the past where Canada has responded with special resettlement efforts.

Meanwhile Canada is resettling significantly fewer refugees today than we were in the 1990s (average annual in 90’s: 14,600; average annual 2000-2007: 10,600).

For more information, see Iraqi refugee crisis: Call for increased Canadian response, Dec 2007.

FAMILY REUNIFICATION: How will you make family reunification a priority and ensure that children are quickly reunited with their parents?

Background: In recent years, the immigration program has been increasingly oriented towards economic immigration, at the expense of family reunification.  Refugee families in particular face extremely long processing times: in some visa posts, families routinely wait more than a year and a half for reunification – this includes children that are separated from both their parents.  There are also barriers: for example, separated children in Canada have no right in law to reunite with their parents.

The CCR has developed a Manifesto on Family Reunification, calling for an immigration and refugee system that respects basic rights by favouring the speedy reunification of families. It calls in particular for the processing of family members of refugees, especially separated children, to be done in Canada.

Chronic disease among immigrants: Call for evaluations

As posted on CLICK4HP:

Evaluation reports/papers of chronic disease prevention and control programs/interventions targeted to immigrants and ethnocultural groups are being requested to contribute to the Canadian Public Health Agency, Chronic Disease and Prevention Best Practices Portal. Published as well as unpublished evaluations of both Canadian and international programs are welcome. Programs that may influence chronic disease are also of interest. Questions/information: Henna Aslam –

The role of social engagement in integration

Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Integration Branch, held a series of workshops across Canada between March and June 2008 to investigate the role of social engagement in integrating newcomers into Canada. Several objectives were outlined for this initiative, including the desire to clarify and articulate foundational principles to guide policy and programming, to identify models of intervention and to strengthen collaboration among key partners.

Workshops were held in Calgary, Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg and Vancouver and participants included government policy people, academics and researchers, immigrant-serving organizations. Workshops were organized in themes of key concepts, collaboration and measurement.

CIC has released a report summarizing the discussions. Social Engagement and Integration: Learning from Others to Inform Approaches to Integration is a 26 page paper, offering a summary of each of the six workshops.

Interesting to us is the absence of discussion on immigrant/refugee children and families in these discussions. “Children” never appear in the document; “Family/families” appear four times, never as a main subject or area of discussion. 

The glaring omission of children and families in a purported attempt to develop strong collaborations to support social engagement, social cohesion and integration, is unfortunate. CCICY supporters in these six cities may consider using the reports summaries as a launch for federal election candidates.

Federal election set for October 14th

The Federal Election has been set for October 14, 2008. will maintain a page on the upcoming election, entitled ELECTION ~ Fall ’08, and will include relevant and useful information for folks interested in immigration issues specifically as they may be related to immigrant children and families. Please send me an email or reply to this post with the questions/issues you would like to see raised in the debate or questions you’d like to see asked of federal candidates. We’ll circulate a list through the CCICY listserv in the next little while and post on the ELECTION ~ FALL ’08 page.

Research papers on is dedicated to raising the importance of home language (L1) retention as a tool to support the development of English in newcomer children. The site, developed by Dr. Roma Chumak-Horbatsch of Ryerson University’s School of Early Childhood Education has recently been updated and two new research studies by Dr. Chumak-Horbatsch have been added:

Early bilingualism: Children of immigrants in an English-language childcare center. (2008). Psychology of Language and Communication. Vol 12, No. 1.

Mmmmm…I like English: Linguistic behaviors of Ukranian-English bilingual children. (2006). Psychology of Language and Communication. Vol 10, No. 2. 

Visit to download both papers.