Resource worth revisiting from & news of a conference

In 2010, the Canadian Association of Family Resource Programs ( released an issue of their occasional journal, Perspectives in Family Support. The issue focused on newcomer families. It stands up today, four years later.  Included in that issue are: has announced its annual conference for 2015 to be held this year in Hamilton, Ontario. Review the program and register here.

Related link: ~ a collection of resources for immigrant families, and for those who work with them.

Metropolis 2014 sessions on immigrant children & youth

Metropolis 2014 will take place Nov 3-7 in Milan.

There are a small number of sessions that address issues of immigrant children and youth. From the program:

Moving images in social networks. Youth, active citizenship, education and intercultural dialogue

The aim of the workshop is to analyse the different uses of social networks by young people, focusing on the way they deal with the issue of cultural diversity through videos and on how education can build competences and awareness to promote active citizenship and intercultural dialogue in social networks. The keywords social networks, youth, media education and intercultural dialogue will lead the debate to understanding the condition of youth in a social scenario marked by the increase of cultural diversity. Social networks can be considered not only as an important tool empowering active citizenship of young people, but also as a field where opinions and attitudes of closure and rejection of others can become widespread.

The presenters will broaden our consideration of the role of social networks in representing diversity related to migration. They will offer some insights and examples on the double role education has to play with regard to the use of social media by young people: to develop their awareness on how social media may be used to misrepresent or act against cultural diversity; to increase their competence for promoting intercultural dialogue in the online public sphere. Young filmmakers from The Netherlands, France-Martinique and Italy will present good practices of video use in social networks. The filmmakers have taken part in YEFF, the Young European Film Forum on Cultural Diversity, promoted since 2005 by a network of 9 European countries.

Unaccompanied minors in the European Union

Among the various forms of international migration that the European Union has experienced for a long time, the arrival of children without any parents or customary guardians (“unaccompanied minors”) has emerged as a migration phenomenon of growing importance, and as a particular challenge for receiving countries. While the number of unaccompanied minors in the different Member States is unequal, practices concerning the entry, reception, accommodation, and regulation of stay of these minors vary considerably. This is despite the fact that at EU level much attention has recently been devoted to reach a common approach regarding this vulnerable group of migrants.

This workshop will investigate different migration patterns of unaccompanied minors experienced in selected EU Member States, and the different national policies and practices concerning their entry, reception and stay. Presentations from Austria, Hungary, Sweden, Ireland and Italy will be complemented by a comparative European perspective from the European Migration Network. Ultimately, the workshop aims at identifying achievements, shortcomings and possible future developments at national and EU levels.

Unaccompanied children. Challenges, policies and practices

Unaccompanied children, who find themselves without parental care, frequently lack a legal status in the country of arrival, and very often it precludes them from benefiting of the rights they are entitled to as minors. Because of the very nature and vulnerabilities of this group of migrants, and consistent with the principles enshrined in the Convention of the Rights of the Child, the assistance provided to unaccompanied migrant children should necessarily be flexible, and able to respond to specific needs of each and every concerned child. The guiding principle of all activities developed for unaccompanied children is the primary consideration of the best interest of the child, so as to identify and implement the most suitable and durable solution on an individual basis – i.e. return the country of origin, integration in the country of destination, resettlement or adoption. Drawing on experiences in different destination countries, the aim of the workshop is to explore the impact such actions have on the well-being of unaccompanied children and the implications of different policies and practices.

NB: Canadian Gardiner Barber Pauline of Dalhousie University is scheduled to participate in this workshop.

Immigrant youth at risk: Towards an inclusive policy through multi-disciplinary practice

Immigration provides opportunities for both the host society and individual immigrants. The young generation of immigrants will contribute to overcoming the economic and social crisis of aging societies. There are chances for innovation and new openings, but there are also challenges which national policymakers should identify and take specific actions to overcome. The workshop will address the situation of young immigrants who are not in education or training or those in situations of near social exclusion. Questions of mental health, education and social inclusion will be discussed in the workshop. We welcome participants representing different fields of action to contribute to the discussion of the potential of young immigrant generation and challenges to policymaking.

Last day to register is Oct 31.

Generation to generation: Empowering newcomer youth & families

Cities of Migration Learning Exchange series presents a webinar on New Zealand and Canadian programs “that improve language and digital literacy for immigrant families and youth by removing barriers to technology, promoting inter-generational tutoring, and strengthening community relations through education”.

The webinar will be held October 30. To sign up, visit the Eventbrite site. From that site, the following description (links added):

In Wellington, New Zealand, Computers in Homes (CIH) adapted a program that provides low income families with computers and training and modified it to cater specifically to refugee families and their unique needs. CIH recognized an opportunity to make Internet access and basic computer technology a passport to improved integration outcomes for immigrant children and their parents.

In Toronto, Canada, Youth Empowering Parents (YEP) is an innovative, award-winning program that equips newcomer youth to teach newcomer adults English and computer skills. Rather than a traditional classroom with an instructor, YEP trains youth with the skills to act as effective volunteer tutors for adults in their community.


  • Di Daniels, National Coordinator Computers in Homes (Wellington, New Zealand)
  • Agazi Afewerki, Executive Director, Youth Empowering Parents (Toronto, Canada)

Not all immigrant children created equal: A post from New Canadian Media

Written for  New Canadian Media Tuesday, 21 October 2014
Canadian schools may have become better at welcoming immigrant students, but we need better policies and practices to ensure every student succeeds.
Canadian schools may have become better at welcoming immigrant students, but we need better policies and practices to ensure every student succeeds. Photo Credit: Tulane Public Relations

by Charles Ungerleider in Vancouver

Canada’s economic prosperity and population depend upon immigration. Canada would not exist nor could it survive without immigration. Population maintenance depends upon immigration. The Canadian birth rate per woman is in the region of 1.6, far below the replacement ratio of approximately 2.1 births per woman. Canada’s economic prosperity is linked to having enough well educated people to support an increasingly dependent population.

A high proportion of recent immigrants have university degrees. In fact, by 2001, the portion of immigrants with university degrees was about twice that of the Canadian-born population. Although their parents are well educated, the children of immigrants still face challenges in school. The children of immigrants have lower reading literacy levels than their Canadian-born counterparts. It is fortunate that, over time, this disadvantage disappears for most students, but not all. Despite lower reading literacy, most recent immigrants perform better on average than their Canadian-born counterparts in mathematics and sciences.

… it is important to ensure that students acquire facility in English or French for academic purposes prior to enrolling in courses that depend on such fluency.

As most people recognize, group averages can hide significant variation among groups. When we look beyond the averages for immigrant students, we notice that immigrants from particular backgrounds are doing less well than their peers.  Students from Asian immigrant backgrounds are so numerous and, in general, so successful in school, that their performance obscures the results of the students from other immigrant backgrounds who find Canadian schooling more challenging, who perform less well and sometimes leave school prior to graduation.

Time is one of the challenges faced by immigrant students trying to learn English or French in school. Often they do not have sufficient time to both learn the language for academic purposes and to gather sufficient credits for graduation. The problem is compounded in those jurisdictions that place age limits on who can attend school and limits on the amount of additional support that students are able to receive. Older immigrant students are especially challenged by the limited time they can attend school.

Socio-economic factors

Confusion arising from different cultural expectations is also a challenge for immigrant students and for their parents. The prominence given to student engagement, critical thinking and questioning is sometimes quite different than the prior experiences that some immigrant students have had. For some students and parents, Canadian schools seem less demanding and too informal than their prior school experiences. The mismatch in expectations and experiences between prior and current school experiences adds to the challenge faced by immigrant students and their parents.

Immigrant students whose parents have neither educational nor economic advantages are often among those who find school more challenging, perform less well and leave school early. Even among those who graduate from high school, there are socio-economic differences between those who attend post-secondary school and those who do not, favouring those whose parents are more advantaged.

Child refugees or children of refugees who have not had the benefit of schooling prior to arrival in Canada are among the most challenged. Lacking familiarity with schools, prior school socialization, and basic literacy makes school a daunting set of challenges for refugee students.

Beyond averages

Over the course of their history, Canadian schools have become better at welcoming and educating immigrant students. There are many factors that have contributed to the noticeable improvement. Canadian society is less overtly discriminatory than in the past when immigration was restricted to persons of European origin. While it has not completely freed itself from its past, Canada has acknowledged and apologized to descendants of Canadians of Japanese, Punjabi, Chinese and other backgrounds whose ancestors were excluded and mistreated. This has contributed to a national climate more accepting of difference that influences all of Canada’s institutions, including its schools.

Immigrant students whose parents have neither educational nor economic advantages are often among those who find school more challenging …

Schools have recognized that early and continuing intervention is necessary whenever students exhibit evidence of being challenged – especially in the acquisition of literacy. Parents whose children appear fluent in social contexts with friends often infer that their children possess the requisite knowledge to succeed in courses demanding greater facility with the language than is normally used in social discourse. Although it challenges the expectations and aspirations of those parents, it is important to ensure that students acquire facility in English or French for academic purposes prior to enrolling in courses that depend on such fluency.

Schools know that they must observe student progress closely and make adjustments to the education and supports that immigrant students require to be successful in the school environment. This requires looking beyond group averages to see how individual students are succeeding.

Canada’s need for immigrants often translates into action designed to increase the likelihood of school success because adult productivity, health and engaged citizenship are built upon a foundation of successful schooling. But action is not uniform across all schools or for all immigrant students. To ensure greater uniformity, we need better policies, practices, close monitoring and a willingness to change practice and policy when the evidence suggests that they are not working to the advantage of all students.

Charles Ungerleider, a Professor Emeritus of Educational Studies at The University of British Columbia, is Managing Partner of Directions Evidence and Policy Research Group, LLP,  a partnership of professionals with experience in applied research, policy analysis and evaluation in a variety of domains, including K-12 and post-secondary education, social services, justice, and health. He has served as Deputy Minister of Education in British Columbia, Director of Research and Knowledge Mobilization at the Canadian Council on Learning, and Associate Dean (Teacher Education) at The University of British Columbia.

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be freely re-published, with appropriate attribution, please.