National strategy for early literacy: Invitation to participate

The Canadian Language and Literacy Research Network (CLLRNet) is working on a national strategy for early litearcy, inviting submissions and participation in a national consultation. From the CLLRNet site:

The National Strategy for Early Literacy (NSEL) is a Canada-wide initiative to improve the literacy skills of Canadian children and youth.  NSEL engages a broad coalition of organizations and individuals to understand and describe what can be done to improve literacy outcomes for young Canadians, and to put these actions into practice.  The conclusion of the NSEL process will be a coherent, feasible, evidence-based national strategy for early literacy, including a clear statement of activities required and of the organizations that must take responsibility for these actions.

The NSEL initiative is being coordinated by the Canadian Language and Literacy Network (CLLRNet;, a Canada-wide network engaging practitioners, policymakers, researchers and trainees in every province and territory with the common goal of improving literacy skills in Canada.

Public consultations relating to the National Strategy initiative will be held across Canada in March 2009.  These consultations will provide an opportunity for presentations that are focused on issues relevant to improving the literacy skills of young Canadians by individuals and organizations.

Parties interested in presenting at these consultations or in providing written input to the consultation process are invited to submit an information brief in advance of the consultations.

Information briefs should be sent by February 15, 2009 to:

Suggested Guidelines for Information Briefs

Submissions should address an aspect of the challenge: “what should be done to improve the literacy skills of Canadian children and youth?”   It is expected that most submissions will include the following components:

  1. The role of the issue discussed in the overall challenge of improving literacy outcomes;
  2. Statement and description of the specific actions proposed;
  3. Discussion of the responsibilities for and mechanisms by which such actions would take place;
  4. Estimates of the expected impacts of these actions;
  5. Discussion of the resources required for such actions to be implemented;
  6. Discussion of how such activities and impacts should be monitored, evaluated and improved upon; and
  7. References to sources cited in and supporting the contents of the submission.

For more information, visit the CLLRNet site.

Federal developments

The 2nd session of Canada’s 40th Parliament opened Monday, January 26, 2009 with a Speech from the Throne

On Wednesday, January 27, 2009, the federal government released their budget. The budget includes $50 million to support the work of the Foreign Credential program.

The federal Liberal party announced new critic portfolios in their shadow cabinet including Member of Parliament for Brampton-Springdale, Ontario, Ruby Dhalla as critic for “Multiculturalism and Youth”. Maurizio Bevilacqua (MP for Vaughn, Ontario) remains critic for Citizenship and Immigration.

Call for proposals: On new shores 2009

On New Shores: Understanding Immigrant Children and Families conference 2009, is now accepting proposals.

The 2009 theme is Education: Challenges and Implications for Immigrant and Refugee Families. The conference will be held at the University of Guelph October 29-30, 2009. For more information, see the On New Shores page at organizer Dr. Susan Chuang’s webpage at the University of Guelph.

Proposal deadline is March 1, 2009.

Multi-language injury prevention resources

Safe Kids Canada has launched an Ethno-Cultural Program, with the development of multi-language injury prevention resources, providing “culturally relevant safety messages for parents and partners to raise awareness and reduce child injuries within ethnic communities”.

Currently, resource sheets and audio clips on the topic “Keep Your Child Safe at Home” are available in simplified Chinese, Punjabi and Portuguese.

Canadians of convenience

The National Post today reports on new rules in the citizenship process that may render children – adopted by Canadians or born to Canadians outside of Canadian soil – as less than full-Canadian citizens. Read the story here.

The Fraser Institute interprets this as a way to protect Canada from ‘citizens of convenience’: As quoted in the Jan 16/09 National Post story: “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 influence of culture on early childhood

Zero to Three has release a comprehensive overview of the influence of culture on early childhood in the US. The Changing Face of the United States: The Influence of Culture on Early Child Development, by Beth Maschinot, PhD, with funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Bernard van Leer Foundation posits a new definition for understanding culture in the context of early childhood as:

Culture is a shared system of meaning, which includes values, beliefs, and assumptions expressed in daily interactions of individuals within a group through a definite pattern of language, behavior, customs, attitudes and practices.

This reworked definition of “culture” provides a way of expanding the discussion and extending it to young children and families. The report challenges early childhood practitioners in reexamining how useful traditional research studies have been in helping better understand “culture”.

The report summarizes the findings of a 2007 literature review, conducted by Zero To Three and offers information and resources for early childhood practitioners on how to address the needs of a growingly diverse population. The report suggests that “differences in parent-child interaction styles between ethnic groups may be a function of the group’s place in wider society rather than a cultural difference per se”.

Women’s Refugee Commission

News: The Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children is changing their name to The Women’s Refugee Commission

The Women’s Refugee Commission is a US-based advocacy organization that seeks to: “improve the lives and defend the rights of refugee women and children, including the internally displaced, returnees and asylum seekers” and works in:

  • Assessing and monitoring the situation of refugee women and children through research, field visits and consultation 
  • Identifying and documenting the widely overlooked problems and issues that affect refugee women and children
  • Developing and promoting policies and practices that will lead to real on-the-ground change by advocating to policy makers, key organizations, donors and the public to ensure their implementation.

Source: Women’s Refugee Commission ‘About Us’.

Gender-based barriers to settlement and integration for live-in caregivers: A review of the literature

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

Authors Denise L. Spitzer and Sara Torres ask what is known about the women who migrate to Canada under the federal live-in caregiver program and the barriers they face in settling and integrating in a new community. The paper provides historical, economic and demographic information and concludes with several policy recommendations.

Multiculturalism is bad for immigrant children

National Post columnist George Jonas examines what he terms the Canadian “multiculturalism fallacy” and finds that the notion of promoting diversity (vs. tolerating it) creates “outsiders”. This is, in Jonas’ view, particularly harmful for immigrant children. Ethnic and religious minorities are tolerated in good societies, such as Canada and persecuted in bad ones, such as the Third Reich, says Jonas. 

From the article: “Diversity is no organizing principle: it’s a fact of existence. It’s part of the human condition. It’s neither to be swept under the carpet nor to be run up the flagpole. It’s neither the solvent of nationhood nor its glue. For immigrant nations such as Canada it’s a reality to cope with, accept and turn to advantage if possible. It isn’t something to aim for, celebrate, cherish or try to etch in stone”.

 “We accept being outsides in someone else’s country more easily than in our own, and we regard the country in which we’re born as ours. That’s why 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”.

Jonas concludes: “Emphasizing diversity over integration bequeaths a legacy of civil conflict to one’s children”. Read the full article here.