2010 is Year of the British Home Child in Canada

2010 has been designated as Year of the British Home Child in Canada. It commemorates the child emigration scheme that brought over 100,000 children from Britain to Canada between 1826 and 1939. The plan was sold to Canadians as a way to support children who were orphaned and living in poverty. A great many of these children came to Canada and served as farm labourers and domestic servants and endured lives of abuse from the people who acquired them. immigrantchildren.ca has been vocal about the importance of Canada’s acknowledgment of the wrongs committed against these children and has called for a formal apology from the Federal government. In November, the British government apologized to the home children.

immigrantchildren.ca will maintain a page on the home children and link related items, information, news and events related to the initiative over 2010.

The year in review: Highlights from immigrantchildren.ca, 2009

January 2009

Pier 21, Canada’s Immigration Museum, received a cash infusion of $15 million from the Federal government to make the museum a national one.

The federal government budget included $50 million to support the work of the Foreign Credential program.

The federal Liberal party appointed MP for Brampton-Springdale, Ontario, Ruby Dhalla as critic for “Multiculturalism and Youth”. Maurizio Bevilacqua (MP for Vaughn, Ontario) remained critic for Citizenship and Immigration.

Safe Kids Canada launched an Ethno-Cultural Program, including multi-language injury prevention resources.

The Fraser Institute supported the federal government’s intention to reign in so-called ‘citizens of convenience’: “If you’re going to be a Canadian, you have to have some substantive ties. If you keep giving citizenship on indefinitely to your progeny and their progeny, the ties are pretty questionable.”

The Ontario Metropolis Centre/the Joint Centre of Excellence for Research in Immigration Studies (CERIS)  releases a literature review on barriers to integration and settlement for live-in caregivers.

National Post columnist George Jonas questions the Canadian “multiculturalism fallacy”, says promoting diversity (vs. tolerating it) creates “outsiders”, which is, in Jonas’ view, particularly harmful for children of immigrants: “.if unassimilated ‘diverse’ communities produce misfits, malcontents, traitors or outright terrorists, they’re more likely to produce them in the second or third generation. The jihadist is the native son rather than the immigrant father”.

February 2009

The Annual Report to Parliament on the Operation of the Canadian Multiculturalism Act 2007-2008 is tabled. The report acknowledges the “important development in Government policy, when the Prime Minister decided to link Multiculturalism policy and programs with those at Citizenship and Immigration Canada”.

The Canadian Council on Refugees (CCR) releases their Annual Status Report on Refugee and Immigrant Rights in Canada, 2008.

March 2009

Dr. Susan Chuang, University of Guelph,  released a discussion paper, entitled Immigrant Serving Agencies’ Perspective on the Issues and Needs of Immigrant and Refugee Children in Canada.

Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister, The Honourable Jason Kenney addressed delegates at the Calgary Metropolis conference and startles delegates with what was widely perceived as the notion that prospective immigrants must have a “working knowledge of either English of French” in order to come to Canada.

TVO airs the documentary, My New Home as part of its series, Belong or Bust: Where Do I Fit In?. The series explored a variety of viewpoints on the themes of culture and identity and our place in society.

TVO and HIPPY (Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters) announce a partnership in literacy programming for newcomer children.

Rudyard Griffiths (Dominion Institute and author of “Who We Are: A Citizen’s Manifesto“) champions language as the key to successful integration and suggests that “The federal government should also put special emphasis on second-language training for school-age children”.

Welcome BC held a Learning Forum and Consultation on the Settlement Needs of Immigrant/Refugee Children 0-6 years of age and Their Families.

April 2009

The Hospital for Sick Children received over 9 million in settlement funding to establish an “immigrant support network“.

mylanguage.ca continued to promote the importance of newcomer children retaining their ‘home language’ by providing resources in multiple languages on their website.

An amendment to the Citizenship Act came into force with changes on the ‘first generation limitation’ impacting children.

May 2009

The Globe and Mail and the Dominion Institute launch a Public Policy Wiki as a vehicle to bring forward to government a range of views from the general public on matters of public policy. Among the topics is a section on immigration policy.

Settlement Arts, a Toronto-based organization established to raise awareness and increase education on immigration and settlement issues presents their first exhibit on transnational families entitled ‘Waiting for My Children’.

The Children’s Aid Foundation partnered with RBC to launch a Diversity Fund to support social service agencies abilities to work with a diverse population.

The Senate releases an investigative report, Early Childhood Education and Care: Next Steps, acknowledging the importance of high quality early learning and care for newcomer families and young children.

Maclean’s magazine featured an interview with Minister Jason Kenney where he expanded on the language and integration position.

June 2009

The Edmonton Public School system plans to pilot a program to assist immigrant children with integrating into school.

Status of Women Canada funds the Canadian Council of Muslim Women to develop a program to assist the integration and inclusion of young Muslim women and girls.

The House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration (CIMM) releases a study on Migrant Workers and Ghost Consultants. The paper is the result of the investigation undertaken by the Committee on the Live-in Caregiver Program, and is a follow-up to the May 2009 report, Temporary Foreign Workers and Non-status Workers*.

Minister Jason Kenney was interviewed on TVO’s The Agenda and spoke about the importance of English/French for newcomer children.

July 2009

The Maytree Foundation, during an online webinar on ‘Adjusting the Balance: Fixing Canada’s Economic Immigration Policies’ coins the phrase “family unification” v. “family reunification“.

Children, registered to attend a summer camp in Ontario, were turned away from the border due to new regulations requiring visas for Mexicans.

The Institute for Canadian Citizenship partners with Toronto-area cultural institutions, like galleries and museums, in offering new citizens – and their children – passess to local cultural attractions.

Both Ottawa and Calgary launch settlement programs directly for newcomer children.

September 2009

The Canadian Mothercraft College offers an online (or in-person) course for settlement workers who work with young immigrant children and their families, funded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

October 2009

The Liberal Party of Canada released their Pink Book, Volume III: An Action Plan for Canadian Women. The report does not address immigration issues, specifically the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) program that brings women to Canada as nannies to provide child care for Canadian women (often leaving behind their own children in the process).

November 2009

immigrantchildren.ca celebrates its 2nd birthday.

The Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies at the University of Toronto presented a lecture on child trafficking.

Britain apologizes to its ‘home children’; Canada refuses to do the same for its ‘home children’, although declared that 2010 will be The Year of The Home Child.

Minister Jason Kenney released an updated guide to Canadian Citizenship. Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada has funded the organization CMAS (Childminding Monitoring Advisory Support) to conduct a national consultation towards the development of a new child care model for newcomer families.

Auditor-General Sheila Fraser raised serious questions around Canada’s immigration policies and system.

December 2009

The ‘Burka Barbie’ is scrutinized by Barbara Kay in the National Post and Mark Steyn in Maclean’s.

The federal Ministry of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism invited comments from the public on the newly introduced changes to the live-in caregiver program.

Feds seek input into changes to the live-in caregiver program

As reported in various media, the federal Ministry of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism has introduced changes to the live-in caregiver program (LCP). See for example, The Toronto Star’s “Good package of changes to live-in caregivers” (Dec 22/09). Briefly, changes being proposed include:

  • Four years of work to complete the two-year requirement for application for permanent residence
  • Overtime hours to be calculated in the above
  • One medical exam, at time of application to participate in the LCP
  • Travel costs to be paid by the employee
  • A telephone help-line for caregivers.

The details on proposed changes can be found in the Canada Gazette and/or the CIC website. Details were published on Dec 19/09. Comments will be accepted up until Jan 18, 2010 and should be directed to:

Maia Welbourne, Director, Temporary Resident Policy and Program Development Division
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
8th floor, Jean Edmonds Tower South
365 Laurier Avenue W, Ottawa ON K1A 1L1
Tel: 613.957.0001
Fax: 613.954.0850

Selected related items:

Temporary Foreign Workers and Non-Status Workers – Report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration (May 2009)

Gender-based barriers to settlement and integration for live-in caregivers: A review of the literature by Denise Spitzer and Sara Torres (Nov 2009)

Holiday gifts for newcomers

1. Subscription to a daily mainstream national newspaper. I recommend The Globe and Mail and/or the National Post. Both often feature items related to immigration and both are well written and present clear points of view on issues of immigration and settlement.

2. Subscription to a local newspaper. Depending on where the newcomer settles, the local paper offers, often painfully accurately, the local environment: it is important for the newcomer to know where they have landed, how they are welcomed (or not) and avenues for settling, integrating, opportunities for employment and recreation, etc in their chosen community.

3. “100 Photos that Changed Canada” is a beautiful ‘coffee-table’ book that illustrates and documents the journey and history of immigration to Canada. Both heartening and heart-breaking stories and histories are included, everything from the “Girl from Canada”, a living exhibit of a young woman on a bicycle outfitted with all the bells and whistles that ostensibly depicted life in Canada as an incentive to British, to the injustice of the Komagata Maru incident, documenting the history of the “one continuous voyage” policy in immigration policy, to the repatriation of Japanese Canadians after internment during WWII, to Canada’s disgrace in refusing Jewish children’s emigration, 100 Photos is an illustrated history of Canada.

4. Rudyard Griffith’s Who We Are: The Citizen’s Manifesto is a current examination of the state of the nation and the place of the newcomer in it.

5. Shaun Tan’s The Arrival is a beautiful, timeless and ageless picture book that illustrates beautifully the immigrant experience. Children and adults alike will marvel at the empathic depictions of what it is like to land on new shores. Readers will find comfort in this volume, which lovingly and accurately depicts the typical newcomer journey: leaving family, reconciling, being a stranger in a strange land.

6. Library cards to the local public and local university libraries. Many Canadian university libraries offer a “research reader” or “community member” card for non-students. Local public libraries have agreements with Citizenship and Immigration Canada and offer Library Settlement Service programs, a support to newcomers.

This list is reading-heavy: What are your suggestions for other/additional best gifts for newcomers?

On new shores conference call, Sept 30-Oct 1, 2010

NB: UPDATE Jan 19th: The call for proposals has been extended to March 10th.

The theme for the 4th annual On New Shores, Understanding Immigrant Children is resilience of immigrants and features keynote speaker Dr. Michael Ungar.

From the call: “The goal of the conference is to bring together various stakeholders (academia, community, and government sectors) to collectively examine and discuss issues of stress as well as resilience of immigrant and refugee children, youth and families.

Researchers from various disciplines (e.g., psychology, sociology, social work, education) are welcomed.

Dr. Michaal Ungar, Dalhousie University, social worker and family therapist, is a leading scholar on resiliency and will offer a half researchers. Other scholars from various disciplines will be presenting, including: Marc Bornstein, Bob Bradley, Judith Bernhard, Ruth Chao, Xinyin Chen, David Este, Jo Ann Farver, Cynthia Garcia Coll, Uwe Gielen, Hiro Yoshikawa”.

Options for the conference:

Paper Presentation: The presenter will discuss his/her work/program which is empirically-based. The talk will be about 15 – 20 minutes, depending on the number of presenters in each session.

Discussion Hour: Several presenters (preferably well-established) discussing their areas of expertise for 3-5 minutes. The purpose is to engage in in-depth discussions on a theme.

Roundtable/Workshop: This involves a more informal forum to explore and discuss the issues at hand. This would be led by 2-4 individuals/organizations and the number of participants would be limited to about 30-50 people.

Poster Presentation: The presenter will display their work on a free-standing poster board for the delegates to read. Informal discussions will then merge from this process. This forum is primarily for new scholars (graduate students) and others who may prefer this type of engagement.

Deadline for proposals is Feb 15, 2010. NB: Deadline is now March 10th. For more information, contact: Susan S. Chuang, Ph.D., Associate Professor, University of Guelph, 519.824.4120 x 58389 or schuang@uoguelph.ca.

NB: See Dr. Michael Ungar’s blog Nurturing Resilience.

Defining cultural competence in early learning settings

It is increasingly being recognized that practitioners and evaluators using Quality Rating Improvement Services (QRIS) in early child development settings, must address the growing diversity of the families and children served in these settings.

The US-based National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) has created the Quality Benchmark for Cultural Competence Project (QBCCP) in order to develop a tool to assess the level of competence in programs participating in a QRIS. Driving the process was the fundamental belief that “for the optimal development and learning of all children, educators must accept the legitimacy of children’s home langauge, respect … the home culture, and promote and encourage the active involvement and support of all families, including the extended and nontraditional family units” (NAEYC 1995, 2).

Eight concepts of cultural competenece:

1. Acknowledge that children are nested in families and communities with unique strengths. Recognize and mitigate the tension between the early childhood profession’s perceptions of the child as the center of the work versus the family as the center of the work.

2. Build on and identify the strengths and shared goals between the profession and families and recognize commonalities in order to meet these goals.

3. Understand and authentically incorporate the traditions and history of the program participants and their impacts on child­ rearing practices.

4. Actively support each child’s development within the family as complex and culturally­ driven ongoing experiences.

5. Recognize and demonstrate awareness that individuals’ and institutions’ practices are embedded in culture.

6. Ensure that decisions and policies regarding all aspects of a program embrace and respect participants’ language, values, attitudes, beliefs and approaches to learning.

7. Ensure that policies and practices build upon the home languages and dialects of the children, families and staff in programs and support the preservation of home languages.

For more information, visit the NAEYC website.

EU study on traditional harmful practices

The European Union has commissioned a study to investigate traditional harmful practices. From the website harmfulpractices.org, this description of the study:

“The Study aims at providing assistance to the European Union in defining and harmonising its action to end Harmful Traditional Practices, based on proven actions in Europe and elsewhere in both policy and practice. The Study shall, in particular, break new ground for the EU and provide concrete paths forward in relation to both harmonisation of legislation and policy and action at grassroots and governmental levels.

“For the purpose of this Study, harmful traditional practices will include: female genital mutilation/cutting; honour-related violence including so-called honour killings; forced marriage; force feeding or starvation for cosmetic purposes; other violent and coercive acts justified on the grounds of tradition, culture or religion that harm the well-being of those who are victims of them, with particular attention to the impact on women and girls”.

The study will examine legislation in all 27 member states of the EU, look at case studies of successful and unsuccessful persecutions, and discuss and develop indicators and responses from civil society to harmful traditional practices.

For more info, visit the study website.

forcedmigration.org podcasts

Forced Migration Online has available for downloading a collection of audio podcasts. The latest addition is the Harrell-Bond Lecture by former UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, entitled Beyond Blankets: In search of political deals and durable solutions for the displaced.

The Forced Migration Online podcast series includes lectures and discussions between experts from academia, practitioners and policy-makers and displaced persons.

Burka Barbie

The National Post‘s Barbara Kay has reviewed the Burka Barbie and asks why the world’s most famous fashion doll is wearing a burka, a “symbol of oppression”. From the provocative article:

“In the eyes of the majority who do consider both dolls and guns natural objects of play, however, there should be no moral distinction between Burka Barbie and a putative G.I. Joe figure in a suicide vest for essentially they both represent a medieval Islamist worldview that flies in the face of the West’s most cherished values: equality of men and women and respect for human life, including one’s own”.

Read the column here.

Welcoming Communities Seminar, Ottawa

Metropolis Canada presents a seminar on Welcoming Communities on Jan 25/10 in Ottawa at Library and Archives Canada. The seminar is free, but an RSVP is required to project-metropolis@cic.gc.ca by January 11, 2010.

The seminar will address how Canadian communities can be more welcoming. From the announcement:

“In the years to come, the growth in multiculturalism will have a marked effect on the major urban centres of Vancouver, Montréal and Toronto (where within the next 10 years, 50% of the population will be visible minorities). The effects will also be felt in the smallest municipalities and in remote areas. Because social integration must be a two-way process, it requires an ongoing willingness on the part of both immigrants and the Canadian-born population to adapt. In order for this process to be successful, and for society to be strengthened as a result, Canada’s communities must be truly welcoming. Throughout the course of the day, this collective mission will be borne in mind as we attempt to clarify what “welcoming community” means. The notion of welcoming community will be examined under four themes: 1) the degree of which federal, provincial and municipal governments are proactive; 2) the role of non-governmental organizations; 3) the urban/rural divide; and 4) Francophone and Anglophone minority language communities”.

For more info, including registration, visit the Metropolis Canada website.

Make art, not war: Helping refugee children through art

An Iraqi/American mural project is a project of Iraq Art Mile (IAM)/Iraqi Children’s Art Exchange, (IACE) as part of The Art Miles Murals in support of the UNESCO Decade of Peace and Non-Violence among the world’s children. From the ICAE website, this description:

“IAM is sponsoring a series of murals to be painted both in the Middle East and in the US with the theme: Building a Culture of Peace: Who Are We/Who Are They. All the murals created for this project, along with documenting photographs, will be displayed in the US and in the Middle East. The exhibits will illuminate history and culture within the context of the lives, hopes, dreams and expectations of children and youth on both sides of the cultural and political divide that exists at this particular moment in history”.

In September, 2010, the murals will make their way to Egypt to mark the end of the Decade in a gala exhibition and celebration.