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”.