Call for papers: Southern Alberta Child & Youth Health Network conference

The Southern Alberta Child & Youth Health Network has issued a call for proposals (and other conference related items/events) for their 2010 conference “Transcultural Health Conference“.

The conference will be held May 2-4, 2010 in Calgary, Alberta and the theme this year is “Multiple Voices for Enhancing Health Equity through Research, Policy, Education and Clinical Practice”. From the call:

The first national conference held in Montreal in 2007 drew a multidisciplinary group of over 200 participants in health care, education, community work and policy. It served to identify effective models of health care and strategies for clients from diverse ethnoracial and Aboriginal backgrounds. The second national conference will expand on these themes and for each of these categories provide attendees with the opportunity to consider and explore areas such as collaborative professional practice, issues of cultural knowledge and advocacy, the development of cultural competence, and the experience of clients, practitioners and policy makers from the perspective of diversity.

For more information, see the conference web-pages and/or contact: Linda Kongnetiman
Email:, tel: 403-955-7742.

Mental health promotion for newcomers

Cultures West magazine, Vol 27, No. 1: Spring 2009 of the Affiliation of Multicultural Societies and Service Agencies (AMSSA) is subtitled “Promoting Mental Health for Immigrants and Refugees” and includes a strong call to action with regard to children. From the first article, on starting a dialogue about mental health and newcomers:

“…children are caught between two cultures and face regular trauma all day long. They wake up with their traditional culture, spend six to seven hours engrossed in Canadian culture and then go home where they are again encouraged to stick with their traditional culture”.

An interesting portrait of the Multicultural Outreach Counselling Program highlights the need to be responsive to the needs of diverse communities and to ensure that parent-child conflict and differences in parenting styles are addressed. This edition includes several first-person accounts and case studies to illustrate the need for culturally-competent service providers and culturally-appropriate services and programs in mental health.

Will work for (because of) art

A Regent Park (Toronto) arts program ED saw that staff didn’t reflect the cultural community it served; that children had limited notions of what art/craft is; and that immigrant artisan women were seeking employment and created the Artisan Training and Employment Project.

Now in its third year, the Artisan Training and Employment Project brings together newcomer artisan women with the children of Regent Park, Toronto, in an arts program that supports employment training for immigrant women – and expands for children the notion of what art is. A win-win. The project provides part-time work, employment and training to newcomer women through the ArtHeart, Community Art Centre.

The project reports success in the women finding work after the program. For more info see the power point presentation posted at the CERIS site.

“Peel Immigration Papers”

In May, CERIS (The Joint Centre of Excellence for Research in Immigration Studies and Ontario Metropolis Centre) held a seminar based on research conducted in several areas, culminating in the Peel Immigration Papers. The papers include issues related to children and families. They are:

  • Meeting the human service needs of immigrants. Speaker: Sarah V. Wayland, Wayland Consulting.
  • Meeting the needs of immigrants throughout the life cycle. Speaker: Ilene Hyman, UT.
  • From generation to generation. Speaker: Michelle P. Goldberg, OISE/UT.

Wayland’s presentation provides an overview of the issues and makes recommendations for optimal service delivery. Hyman’s presentatiaon (developed with Judith K. Bernhard and Ellen Tate) closely examines the importance of early childhood education in their overview of the issues and in their recommendations. Finally, Goldberg’s presentation (developed with Sarah V. Wayland) examines supports to families and communities in the areas of: Academic supports; Emotional and social supports; Mitigating the effects of poverty; and Building community social capital. We hope that the full papers – from which these presentations were based – are also made available online.

Maytree’s proposed (economic) immigration strategy

The Maytree Foundation held an online media event (teleconference and webinar) on their latest paper “Adjusting the Balance: Fixing Canada’s Economic Immigration Policies”. In the online Q&A after the presentation, Naomi Alboim informed us that she is now working on another paper that will address the live-in caregiver and seasonal agricultural worker programs. We look forward to an examination of family reunification and transnational families in the next paper.

NB: Maytree and Naomi Alboim used the term “family unification” v. family reunification. We like it!

Visit the Maytree Foundation site to download the current paper, the online presentation notes and after July 27th, the online media event.

Call for chapters: South Asian mothering

The Association for Research on Mothering (ARM) has posted a call for chapters for an edited collection by Demeter Press. The editor is Jasjit Kaur Sangha and the book is expected to be published in 2011. An excerpt from the call:

South Asian culture reveres mothers for being selfless, nurturing, and devoted to their family. This reverence predicates that women will find fulfillment in mothering, and that mothering will occur in the context of a heterosexual family. This edited collection seeks to unravel the complexity of South Asian mothering by asking: What does it mean to be a South Asian mother? How do embedded cultural values influence South Asian mothering practices? How are South Asian mothers affected by the process of migration?

The aim of this collection is to initiate dialogue on the paradoxical experience of South Asian mothering. Theoretical, narrative and arts-informed creative submissions are welcome.

Topics can include (but are not limited to) South Asian mothering and: Religion and spirituality; Migration; Activism and resistance; Sexuality; Queer mothering; Feminism; Oppression; Interracial/Intercultural relationships; Language; Extended families; Arranged marriage; Sharam and izzat.

Submission guidelines: 250 abstract deadline Nov 1/09. Deadline for final papers, March 7/10.

For more information and to submit proposals to Jasjit Kaur Sangha

New Visa requirement for Mexico impacts children

The Globe and Mail is reporting that a number of children, registered to attend a summer camp in Ontario, are now being turned away, due to the new regulations requiring visas for Mexicans.

From today’s G&M story (July 20/09):

“The government introduced (the) restrictions in response to the burgeoning number of refugee claims made by Mexicans who show up on Canadian soil. Citizenship and Immigration Canada said this week the number of claims has tripled to more than 9,400 since 2005.

(Camp Director) Mr. Diamond said the families who’ve sent their children to Camp Manitou pay nearly $5,000 for the privilege, so they are not your typical refugee claimants”.

Refugee claimants as campers. Who knew?

Putting the culture in multiculturalism

The Institute for Canadian Citizenship is partnering with Toronto-area cultural institutions, like galleries and museums, in offering new citizens – and their children – passess to local cultural attractions, such as the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Gardiner Museum, the Royal Ontario Museum, Colborne Lodge in High Park, Mackenzie House and many many others.

As of the end of June, the program has expanded into the Kitchener-Waterloo area.

For more information, visit Cultural Access Pass.

Best interests of the immigrant, refugee, ‘culturally diverse’ child

The Canadian Coalition for the Rights of the Child has released its discussion paper, Best Interests of the Child: Meaning and Application in Canada. The paper was prepared for the conference, held February 2009 and includes content gleaned from conference sessions. Each section contains an introduction to a particular issue, a discussion of the issue, suggestions for action and/or further research.

Three sections will be of particular interest to readers: Children in the Refugee and Immigration System; Early Childhood Learning and Care; and Children and Cultural Diversity. This post highlights only some of the issues and suggested actions. For a complete review, consult the full paper on the CRC website.

Children and Cultural Diversity

Discussion of Issues ~ “In Canada, immigrants often want to preserve the culture they brought with them, even though it may be changing in the country of origin to reflect more modern conceptions of children’s rights (frozen culture). Children often get caught between a parent’s desire to preserve their past and young people’s desire to be accepted in the new country. In some ways, Canada’s multiculturalism policy has fostered the continuation of “frozen cultures”.

Suggestions for Action ~ “Top priority was given to community-based approaches to education about the rights of children, as well as school-based education. Community programming can create safe spaces for dialogue between young people, parents, and community leaders on these matters”.

Children in the Refugee and Immigration System

Discussion of Issues ~ “Canada lacks a clear policy framework to protect the best interests of children who are unaccompanied asylum seekers, in spite of recommendations for this from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2003 and in the 2007 Senate Report on children’s rights …Trafficking of children is a growing concern; it is important to consider differences between children and adults and include the BIC in the development of strategies to prevent trafficking, prosecute traffickers, and provide services to victims”.

Suggestions for Action ~ “Make the BIC and the Convention part of Canadian law to protect the rights of children in all policies and programmes for refugees and immigrants…Give special attention to children in the development of strategies to prevent trafficking, and consider the BIC in provision of services to victims and prosecution of traffickers”.

Early Childhood Learning and Care

Discussion of Issues ~ “Social science research has documented that supporting families with affordable, high quality options for early child learning and care has benefits for child development and for the social and economic well-being of communities. Yet Canada does not have a national policy framework for early childhood education and well-being; provincial policies vary widely, resulting in equity for children across Canada; and funding for services in support of early child development is inadequate”.

Suggestions for Action ~ “National leadership is needed to develop a deeper understanding and vision for child development and the purpose of education in Canada, based on giving priority to the BIC. This would include greater awareness of how children learn to belong and contribute to the community, developing early notions of what it means to be citizens in Canada”.

Related resources:

Integration v. multiculturalism

Federal Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, The Honourable Jason Kenney Friday, July 10/09 announced $9.5 Million to Calgary immigrant serving organizations delivering language training. Citing once again the well-known quote by former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, Kenney reiterated that “newcomers have a right to be different but a duty to integrate”. Adding:

“Our new focus is on integration. We don’t want to create a bunch of silo communities where kids grow up in a community that more resembles their parents’ country of origin than Canada”. (Source: The Canadian Press).

Calgary immigrant serving organizations were happy to receive the funds, however, no details were made available on whether or how much of this funding is allocated to children’s settlement and language training.

Ottawa’s child settlement program

The Ottawa Social Planning Council released “Immigrants’ Economic Integration: Successes and Challenges” last week. The report examines the social and economic integration of newcomers to Ottawa and includes discussion of the settlement needs of children. From an article in today’s Ottawa Citizen:

A young person who moves here from another country faces a whole spectrum of things on top of the usual trials of growing up, says Hamdi Mohamed, executive director of the Ottawa Community Immigrant Services Organization (OCISO).

“They live in a community that is really struggling, in a family that is struggling, where the father, the mother, the other siblings are all going through their own settlement experiences,” says Mohamed. “On top of that, the father may have three jobs, the mother may be working as well, so the problems are there, but the role models are not available.”

Mohamed says immigrant children struggle in particular with multiple identities. They are new Canadians who often have strong ties to their homeland, something the Canadian-born may tell them is disloyal….

“The reality of these children is they’re told ‘You must fit in this box or you don’t belong.’ And yet they know they have multiple identities, but they don’t yet know that there are beautiful things about that,” says Mohamed.

In response, OCISO has launched a program that may be piloted in schools and other community locations to assist immigrant children and youth with issues in integration and also in maintaining home language, culture and practices. Other ISOs in the Ottawa area are on board. Read the full article here.

Related resource: See OSPCs 2007 paper “Is Everybody Here? Inclusion and Exclusion Ottawa of Families with Young Children in the Ottawa Area”.

Colour Our World: Calgary’s child settlement program

Calgary’s Centre for Newcomers, with funding from Citizenship and Immigration Canada, runs a settlement program for immigrant children, aged 2 – 12, accompanied by a parent or family member. The program provides one-on-one support as well as group activities, all with the goal of providing information and support for children integrating into Canada. For more information, see the webpage and/or contact program coordinator Zainab Qaiser Khan, (403) 569-3348.

Are other provinces/jurisdictions conducting similar programs specifically for children’s integration/settlement?