Financial literacy program for newcomer women

The St. Joseph Immigrant Women’s Centre in Hamilton, Ontario today received over $130,000 to support a financial literacy program for immigrant women. The Centre works with refugee and immigrant women and “provides services including labour market training and support, language and driving instruction, educational funding, and health services for women and their families”.

Minister of State, Status of Women, Helena Guergis made the announcement today. From the news release:

“New Canadians play a vital role in contributing to Canada’s economy. Especially during these tough economic times, it is more important than ever that new Canadians have the opportunity and skills to contribute fully,” said Minister Guergis. “By supporting the St. Joseph’s Immigrant Women’s Centre in carrying out this important project, our Government is working to ensure that immigrant and refugee women have the tools they need to overcome poverty”. hopes that child care is supported as one of the tools to lift newcomer families out of poverty – and provide children with quality early learning opportunities.

GGs statement on Canadian Multiculturalism Day

From the Canada News Centre website, a message from Governor General Michaëlle Jean on Canadian Multiculturalism Day (June 27th):

Awareness. Inclusion. Equality. Sharing. With just these few, simple words, the full measure of the Canadian reality immediately comes to mind with all its possibilities. It is a reality that is ever changing, encouraging us to preserve and develop the best of the cultures that are already here and that we continue to welcome with open arms.

I often say that Canada contains the world and that our diversity is synonymous with opportunity and the key to our success. Diversity is a fundamental fact of the modern world. Social practices are being transformed, and cultures are becoming richer and more complex than ever before. It is up to each and every one of us to help build a society in which everyone can reach their full potential.

Although there have been some painful periods in our history – I am thinking in particular of residential schools–there are still many glorious chapters for us to write, together, with kindness, openness and generosity. Let us celebrate the richness of our diversity and share in our good fortune!

Related resources: Citizenship and Immigration Canada official “Multiculturalism” webpage.

Canadian Multiculturalism Act

Child migrant workers, in their own words

The Development Research Centre on Migration, Globalisation and Poverty (Migration DRC) examines the lived experiences of children who migrate to countries to seek work – from their perspective. The report finds a “significant gap between how children see their own experiences of migration and the way that child migrants are often represented”. See Voices of Child Migrants: A Better Understanding of How Life Is.

Related resource: The Migration DRC Child Migration Research Network, a site with research and resources on child migration, unaccompanied children and child refugee issues.


On Canada Day, Pier 21 will host a screening of Lester Alfonso’s documentary “12“. This National Film Board (NFB) documentary tells the immigrant story as experienced by 12 twelve-year olds. Alfonso, who arrived in Canada at the age of 12 explores how arriving in a new land on the cusp on teenage-hood impacts identity. He interviews others who arrived also at the age of 12 and seeks to find, as he says, “12 lessons from my former self” (Source: 12 Trailer).

See the trailer on YouTube.

Early learning report for blending child care and kindergarten

Charles Pascal has completed his two-year long investigation into early learning in Ontario. His report calls for a blending of child care and kindergarten. Read about Pascal, his approach to the work, and dowload a copy of the report, Our Best Future: Early Learning in Ontario, at the Ministry of Children and Youth website.

There is no substantial discussion on immigrant, refugee or newcomer children, but “diversity” appears several times throughout the report:

In Chapter 1, “Our best future is one in which all children are … respectful of the diversity of their peers” (p. 7).

In the section discussing schools as the hub of the community, Pascal admits that “Concerns have been voiced that some schools are often unwelcoming to parents, dismissive of the expertise of community partners, and insensitive to the opportunities that diversity can provide for all students” (p. 17).

In the section on programming, there is a review of the ELECT principles, which include “Respect for diversity, inclusion and equity are prerequisites for optimal development and learning” (p. 26).

Also in the section on programming, and about ELECT, there is mention that any curricula should “reflect Ontario’s diversity” (p. 29).

The parental engagement discussion in the report calls on educators to “be thoughtful about who is involved in the process. Many parents commented that existing policies on parent engagement in schools and early childhood programs did not give enough consideration to the splendid diversity in Ontario. Are we truly involving parents if some educators and school leaders, as I have been advised, avoid the Muslim mother because she wears a hijab, or are confused about how to approach same-sex parents or the many configurations of blended families?” (p. 31).

In the recommendations section: “We must learn from each other. There are excellent examples of critical elements of the new system, across this province – teachers and ECEs working together, school-home based child care, school leaders who know how to engage parents and embrace diversity” (p. 49).

And, finally, a critical success factor in implementing the new system are: “ECEs with excellent child development knowledge, skills and experience already in place, passion for diversity…”(p. 49).

Separate school for immigrant children?

The Edmonton Public School system is planning to develop a new program to assist immigrant children with integrating into school, a way to ease them into their new formal environments. Starting as a pilot program, the CBC reports that school board trustees are already considering expanding the program into its own school for immigrant and refugee children. Joseph Luri of the Mennonite Centre for Newcomers in Edmonton welcomes the idea. He wants to see a separate school for immigrant/refugee children with the children grouped not by age but by their knowledge:

“Some have been in the refugee camps for 10 years … never gone to any formal school but now coming here and they begin learning English as a teenager, you don’t get it”.

Young Canadian Muslim women

Status of Women Canada have funded the Canadian Council of Muslim Women to direct a project to assist the integration and inclusion of young Muslim women and girls.

From the April 2/09 news announcement:

Status of Women Canada will provide $314,000 for a project called “Being a Canadian Muslim Woman in the 21st Century.” It will focus on equipping young Muslim women to lead and participate in a number of workshops with their educators and non-Muslim and male peers to discuss discrimination, violence and human rights.

The Council will be working in partnership with two other organizations – the Afghan Women’s Organization of Toronto and YOUCAN.

A description of the project from the Status of Women website:

This project will involve seven schools from across Ontario located in Toronto, London, Peel and Waterloo. Muslim girls and their classmates will develop leadership skills as well as knowledge of their rights regarding gender equality, racial equality and how to eliminate violence in their lives. Muslim girls, with the assistance of their educators, non-Muslim and male peers, will form a Steering Committee in each school. These Committees will lead a series of workshops addressing discrimination, violence and human rights. A Steering Committee Coordinator will organize each school to contribute to the formation of a tool for educators. This tool will provide a basis for reacting sensitively and knowledgably to the issues facing young Muslim women in the 21st century.

House of Commons committee report on the live-in caregiver program

The Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration (CIMM) has released their 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*.

The June 2009 report makes several recommendations about the LCP including that “the Government of Canada grant live-in caregivers permanent resident status” with conditions.

*The report “Temporary Foreign Workers and Non-status Workers” is currently not available on the Parliament website. {Update: thanks to our friend at OCASI, here’s a link to the report}

Metropolis funding for projects that examine “effective partnerships” in delivery of immigrant & settlement services

Metropolis National Research Competition, an initiative of Citizenship and Immigration Canada and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), has issued a call for proposals. This year’s research question is:

From the point of view of governments and of newcomers and minorities, are government-NGO partnerships the most effective model for delivering services for integration and inclusion in Canada?

Deadline is September 30, 2009.

For details about the call, including eligibility, process, application forms and more, see this SSHRC page.

Conference proceedings: Canadian Association of Family Resource Programs

The Canadian Association of Family Resource Programs conference, “Welcoming Communities“, was held in May. Many of the presentations have been uploaded to the FRP conference site. Three of interest to readers, may be:

Listening to immigrant families: Restoring parenting self-efficacy

Canada’s future as a secure, prosperous and cohesive nation depends on how well immigrant families are integrated in society. Yet Canadian institutions undermine the economic, social, and political capital of immigrant parents of young children, leading to sense of loss of self-efficacy in their parenting roles. As a result, not only do the parents feel marginalized, but their children are put at greater risk of feeling alienated from ‘mainstream’ society. One way to address this issue is to systematically document immigrant families’ aspirations, strengths, strategies and needs for support in the form of family narratives, and use them to educate current and future decision makers in public service institutions working in education, childcare, healthcare, and social work.

Mehrunnisa Ahmad Ali, Ryerson University and the Joint Centre of Excellence for Research in Immigration and Settlement.

The Cultural and political reasons why family programs should care about cultural identity

Participants at this workshop will learn about the Care, Identity and Inclusion Project, in which immigrant women and aboriginal women explain why they emphasize the retention and transmission of their cultural and/or faith identities. Findings from this qualitative study suggest that caregiving practices support parents and children alike in a number of important ways, including: to sustain familial relations regardless of geographic distance; to resist discrimination and to contribute to community development.

Paul Kershaw, Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP),Vancouver, BC.

Family Support Practice and Diversity 

The focus of this workshop will be on how children perceive family structure by incorporating the intersections of Queer Theory, race and class and the inclusion of individuals within their family context.

We will discuss the infusion of Family Support Principles in programs and systems other than family resource programs and where these principles can promote positive attitudes for families of all structures.

Patricia Hunt, Program Coordinator, South Riverdale Child-Parent Centre, Toronto. 

Visit the FRP conference site to download the powerpoint presentations.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney on immigrant children

The Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism was interviewed on TVO’s The Agenda last week. Click here to see and hear the entire interview.

Did the Minister have anything to say about immigrant/newcomer children? Yes! On integration:

“We want to be deliberate about it and we want to make sure that we don’t end up with a series of parallel communities where children grow up in a community that more resembles their parents country of origin than Canada”.

An example on “basic social and linguistic integration”:

“If you’re a young guy, you’re arriving with your parents from China, you live in Richmond, you might go to a school where all the kids speak Cantonese or Mandarin as first language, that’s the language of entertainment, at home on the computer, at the movie theatre, with your peer group, I/we want to make sure that a young guy like that doesn’t end up limiting his opportunities in Canada just by retarding linguistic integration, which is after all the pathway to successful economic and social integration”.

An interesting interview, uncovering Kenney’s plans to reshape citizenship and multiculturalism. Look for an announcement soon from Minister Kenney on a Blue Ribbon panel to tackle a new citizenship test.