Exile

“Exile is strangely compelling to think about but terrible to experience. It is the un-healable rift forced between a human being and a native place, between the self and its true home: its essential sadness can never be surmounted.

“And while it is true that literature and history contain heroic, romantic, glorious, even triumphant episodes in an exile’s life, these are no more than efforts meant to overcome the crippling sorrow of estrangement.”

Edward Said, Reflections on Exile

Statistics Canada on children with an immigrant background

Statistics Canada have released census findings from 2016 including a Census in Brief on children with an immigrant background. As on their website, here are some highlights:

  • “In 2016, close to 2.2 million children under the age of 15, or 37.5% of the total population of children, had at least one foreign born parent.
  • “Children with an immigrant background could represent between 39% and 49% of the total population of children in 2036.
  • “Almost half of children with an immigrant background were from an Asian country of ancestry, while less than one quarter were from a European country of ancestry or the United States.
  • “Close to 15% of children with an immigrant background lived in a household with at least three generations.
  • “More than one third of children with an immigrant background spoke only an official language at home, compared with less than 10% of their parents”.

Read the entire brief here.

Migration Matters

Migration Matters is a European non-profit with a mission  to “empower the public to have more nuanced and evidence-based conversations about migration”. Migration Matters “produces bite-sized video courses that complicate commonly held preconceptions with original ideas, research, and solutions-oriented perspectives from leading thinkers in the field: researchers, practitioners, as well as migrants and refugees themselves”.

immigrantchildren.ca is pleased to promote its work and encourages you to take their course “Rethinking Us and Them: Integration and Diversity in Europe“. The course examines Germany and Canada and their efforts in integrating migrants. The course is a series of accessible and informative videos that challenges misconceptions and invites viewers to rethink us and them. Good stuff!

Four questions for … Divonify’s Colleen Sargeant James

I asked Divonify co-founder and principal consultant Colleen Sargeant James:

What’s the effect of racism, discrimination and stereotyping on newcomer children?

I run a diversity and inclusion consulting company, and while most of my work involves facilitating workshops with adults to create inclusive environments, I often see how years of exposure to racism, discrimination and stereotyping affects individuals in the workforce and the community.

The effects of discrimination on newcomer children can result in low self-esteem and feelings of low self-worth. This is especially prevalent in a community where they are a visible minority. Children will learn from a young age that they are different and that being different is not positive and stops them from achieving their full potential. As a result, they will end up trying to “fit in” and not embrace their true authentic self. I think parents of newcomers also experience this as they will tell their children to try to blend in with the other children. Stereotyping has a major effect on children; not only are they faed with stereotypes in their schools and communities but the media has a profound impat on reinforcing stereotypes especially when we look at race and culture. Racism, discrimination and stereotyping are learned behaviours, and when I speak to participants in my sessions I help them to understand that to think inclusively means unlearning most of what they have been taught.

There’s much discussion on integration of immigrants. What kinds of services or supports do newcomer children need to successfully integrate in Canada?

Supports and services are available; however the issue is reaching out to communities that may feel marginalized or isolated. We do not do a good job of ensuring that everyone in the community knows what resources are available to them. This is not an issue that is limited to newcomers, but I find this a concern for many people in communities where knowledge transfer is lacking. We need more organizations working with the school system to ensure children know what is available and we also need to ensure that parents of these children are aware. Communication is key when it comes to integration. This is essential for both adults and children.

New immigrants need mentors within the community. I am a supporter of ambassador programs that allow community members the opportunity to interact with newcomers and work with them to ensure a smooth, supportive transition into the community. a mentorship program would be an excellent resource to newcomers and could be facilitated through our school system similar to a buddy program. This would enable children at a young age to help foster an inclusive environment where all feel welcome.

If you could influence the federal minister of citizenship, refugees, and immigration to do one thing for newcomer  children, what would it be?

To answer this question, one needs to not look solely at the children,  but the family unit as a whole. Citizenship needs to follow up with the families to ensure that they are successfully transitioning into their new communities. Also, demonstrating support by providing ongoing funding for programs and services as most agencies supporting newcomers are dependent on government funding. When governments cut their funding, it has a negative effect on newcomers, especially children who often benefit the most.

What is one of your favourite children’s books that you would recommend for newcomer children? Why?

One of the books I highly recommend for adults who have young children is “It’s Okay To Be Different” by Todd Parr. This book talks about differences and lets the reader know that differences are a part of life. It also helps to open up a conversation between parents and their children about diversity and inclusion and being your authentic self.

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Colleen Sargeant James is the co-founder and principal consultant at Divonify, which specializes in providing innovative and diversity and inclusion consultation, coaching and training. Colleen is a dedicated member of her community. She has over fifteen years of experience working in public administration, social-profit, and the private sector. Colleen is a recent graduate of Leadership Waterloo Region. She has studied Leadership and Inclusion at Centennial College and obtained her degree from the University of Toronto.

Follow Colleen on Twitter @colnerissa.

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immigrantchildren.ca is asking Canadian experts and advocates in immigration, settlement, refugees, and newcomers about their views on newcomer children (birth to age eight). For more interviews, see here.