Archive for March, 2012

The language challenge from Maytree Canada

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

Yesterday I attended a local community forum, Dialogue on Diversity: Immigrant Civic Participation, sponsored by the Waterloo Immigration Partnership, Regional Municipality of Waterloo. The event was MC’d by Lucia Harrison, ED of the Kitchener-Waterloo Multicultural Centre. The keynote speaker was the President of the Maytree Foundation, Ratna Omidvar.

Omidvar used her time well, bringing Alan Broadbent’s Three I’s of Integration (Investment, Intentionality, Instruments) to our attention, the Maytree’s Five Good Ideas project, to name only two. But it was her discussion about the language we use in Canada when discussing immigration that really caught my interest. We talk about multiculturalism, interculturalism, multiversalism, and the dreaded by almost all – tolerance.

Omidvar always has enlightening and thought provoking things to say about immigration and settlement, but I want to focus on a challenge she posed to those of us attending the forum. With regard to language, Omidvar proposed that the word integration is problematic – that is somehow diminishes the newcomer by subsuming her into the Other, new world she is settling in, that the accommodations made are made by the newcomer. Inclusion however is, according to Omidvar, a 2-way street and one that welcomes the participation of the newcomer (which was the point of the event: how to engage newcomer participation).

Those who come from the early learning and child care and family support sector have long been advocates of the word – and concept – of inclusion. For us, inclusion has always meant that ‘everyone belongs’: families with children with special needs, families and children living in poverty, Aboriginal children and families, immigrant and refugee children and families, urban children and families, rural children and families, children and families living in Northern and remote communities, etc. All children share the same rights of participation (see UN Convention on the Rights of the Child). So, we like this move in the immigrant/settlement community towards the language of inclusion. What do you think?

A number of years ago, the Laidlaw Foundation commissioned a series of reports on social inclusion for marginalized groups. It’s a joy to share these (PDFs) once again in the hopes they are useful in furthering the discussion about immigrant/newcomer inclusion (1 co-written by Omidvar):

Social Inclusion, Anti-Racism and Democratic Citizenship, Anver Saloojee (2003)

Immigrant Settlement and Social Inclusion in Canada, Ratna Omidvar and Ted Richmond (2003)

Social Inclusion as Solidarity: Re-thinking the Child Rights Agenda, Michael Bach (2002)

Social Inclusion for Canadian Children through Early Childhood Education and Care, Martha Friendly and Donna Lero (2002)

These papers addressing inclusion among marginalized and disadvantaged groups can help us support and promote the language of inclusion for newcomer children and their families. I urge you to re-visit them.

Call for papers: Children and war

Friday, March 16th, 2012

Call for Papers: “Children and War: Past and Present”. 2nd international and multidisciplinary conference, July 10-12, 2013 at the University of Salzburg, Austria. Organized by the University of Salzburg and the University of Wolverhampton, in association with the United Nations Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict.

From the Forced Migration listserv:

“This conference is planned as a follow-up to the first conference, which took place at the University of Salzburg in 2010. It will continue to build on areas previously investigated, and also open up new fields of academic enquiry.

“All research proposals which focus on a topic and theme related to ‘Children and War’ are welcome, ranging from the experience of war, flight, displacement and resettlement, to relief, rehabilitation and reintegration work, gender issues, persecution, trafficking, sexual violence, trauma and amnesia, the trans-generational impact of persecution, individual and collective memory, educational issues, films and documentaries, artistic and literary approaches, remembrance and memorials, and questions of theory and methodology. Specific conference themes anticipated are:
- Children as victims, witnesses and participants in armed conflict
- Holocaust, genocide and forced labour
- Deportation and displacement, refugees and asylum seekers
- War crimes, trials and human rights

“A special focus will be on the ‘Changing nature of armed conflict and its impact on children’. In the past two decades, UN reports, including the 1996 study by Graça Machel and its 10-year review, noted with concern that the character and tactics of armed conflict are changing, creating new and unprecedented threats to children. Characteristics of the changing nature of warfare include the blurring of lines between military and civilian targets, the use of new technologies and the absence of clear battlefields and identifiable opponents. Extensive research is needed to deal with challenges emerging from this context, including the use of children as suicide bombers, the deliberate targeting of traditional safe havens such as schools and hospitals, the detention and prosecution of children associated with armed groups, and terrorism and the use of counter-terrorism measures (for more information, please see the ‘Note by OSRSG-CAAC’).

“Please send an abstract of 200-250 words, together with biographical background information of 50-100 words by *31 July 2012* to: J.D.Steinert@wlv.ac.uk. All proposals are subject to a review process. Successful candidates will be informed in October 2012 and will be asked to send in their papers by the end of April 2013 for distribution among conference participants on a CD. Further information will be made available in due time. The organizers intend to publish a selection of conference papers”.

For more information, please contact J.D.Steinert@wlv.ac.uk.

Update: On new shores immigrant children conference

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

The deadline for papers has been extended to March 30th for Dr. Susan Chuang’s fifth On New Shores conference. It will be held October 25-26 in Toronto.

From the call for papers: “The goal of the conference is to bring together various stakeholders (academia, community, and governmental sectors) to collectively examine and discuss the various forms of social support (informal, formal) by families, communities, and governmental agencies to promote subjective and family well-being for immigrant and refugee children, youth, and families. Discussions of social capital and protective factors will also be addressed. Researchers from various disciplines (e.g., psychology, sociology, social work, education, anthropology, business) are welcomed. Community service providers and governmental agencies are encouraged to present work on research, effective programs, social issues, and challenges.

“Leading scholars from various disciplines will be presenting, including: Robert Bradley, Xinyin Chen, Catherine Costigan, David Este, Jo Ann Farver, Uwe Gielen, William Jankowiak, Deborah Johnson, Jay Mancini, Luis Moll, Felix Neto, Catherine Tamis-LeMonda, Vappu Tyyska, Fons van de Vijver and more! National and local organizations will also be presenting!”

Submission deadline is March 30th. All proposals must be submitted to Dr. Susan S. Chuang by email (schuang@uoguelph.ca), accompanied by a ons submission form”.

“I don’t feel human” ~ The plight of young refugees and migrants in the UK

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

The Children’s Society is a UK-based charity that is “committed to helping vulnerable and disadvantaged young people, including safeguarding children in care and young runaways”. The Children’s Society campaigns and research seek to influence policy on and give voice to marginalized children, including young refugees. In February, they released a report on the state of young refugees and migrants in the UK. From the announcement:

In “I don’t feel human”, we examine available data on the extent and impact of destitution, and speak to young migrants and the people who work to support them. The report sets out the devastating impact being destitute has on children, young people and families.

“This is an issue for young people who come to seek protection in the UK alone but have been refused asylum and so are left in limbo.

“Having fled danger in their country of birth, these young people are exposed to danger and harm in this country because they are excluded from support and accommodation. They remain hidden from view and have to survive with minimal resources.

“This is also an issue for children in migrant families who may not have an asylum claim but who become destitute for various reasons including domestic violence and family breakdown. Yet due to immigration restrictions they are unable to access support and their parents are not allowed to work in order to pull them out of poverty”.

Jason Kenney’s Convoluted Contradictions

Saturday, March 3rd, 2012

Among other avenues, the 1977 Citizenship Act grants the right to citizenship to persons born in Canada. But if immigration and citizenship minister Jason Kenney gets his way, that right may soon be quashed. Kenney is proposing that there be no more automatic citizenship status for babies born on Canadian soil to foreign mothers. Jason Kenney is the cabinet minister who is regularly applauded for really understanding his portfolio. A sizeable and vocal number of Canadians – and among them, many new Canadians – support the many changes he has brought forward to strengthen Canadian citizenship. He has challenged human traffickers and unscrupulous immigration consultants. He has demonstrated in these and in other actions that Canada cares about human rights. As Kenney has stated, “we must protect the values of Canadian citizenship and must take steps against those who cheapen it”.

In 2007 Kenney amended the rules to allow for immediate Canadian citizenship status for babies adopted from a foreign country by a Canadian parent. Previously, Canadians who adopted internationally had to apply for the child’s citizenship status through the lengthy and arduous permanent residence process. This change ostensibly minimized the differential status between children born in Canada and children adopted into Canada. Equality rights triumphed and the move to ensure all children of Canadians (however they were begot) had equal rights in the form of Canadian citizenship was widely celebrated. How could we argue against loving Canadian prospective parents wanting Canadian citizenship rights for “their” child? Rights to live equally and freely and under the protection of human rights.

The majority of children who migrate to Canada for adoption purposes are from China. China has one of the world’s worst records for human rights – and, specifically, child rights. Yet last week, news headlines screamed that “Chinese women are gaming the system” by having their babies in Canada; with plans to secure some possible future as sponsored family members.

In a statement to Sun News on February 22, 2012, Kenney spokesperson Candice Malcolm said “We are aware of crooked consultants who encourage pregnant women to illegally travel to Canada to give birth and gain access to Canada’s considerable benefits”. These same babies, were they born in China and relinquished for adoption to Canadians, would be warmly welcomed by the federal government and given immediate citizenship status and rights.

Kenney’s proposed changes would deny citizenship to babies born on Canadian soil but would confer automatic citizenship rights to children born on foreign soil.

Is contradiction now a Canadian value?