Four questions for … author and storyteller Rukhsana Khan

I asked Ruhksana Khan:

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

They suffer. Feeling like they’re less. I’m not sure if there’s much the host country can do to change this. It comes down to people valuing personal character above possessions and that kind of goes against human nature. We tend to get impressed by fancy things.

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

I think it would be good to get students to partner up with the newcomer students so that they might feel less lonely and isolated. The local students could learn about where the newcomers are coming from, and read Coming to Canada to gain empathy of how difficult it would be to uproot oneself.

They can also take a look at my book Big Red Lollipop which deals tangentially with assimilation as it’s a story of a family that’s new to North America and the idea of only the invited child going to birthday parties.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Find ways in which newcomers can contribute to the host country as soon as possible. I think it needs to be a two-way street. Newcomers have to feel as though they’re not beholden, that they’re making a contribution towards bettering Canada so the ‘charity’ isn’t going only one way.

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

My book Coming to Canada is used by the Settlement Workers in the Schools program to help newcomers adjust to life in Canada. I would recommend it. I think it contains realistic expectations and I focused on the resources that make Canada such an amazing country like the library and education systems.

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Rukhsana Khan is an award-winning author and storyteller. She was born in Lahore, Pakistan and immigrated to Canada at the age of three.

She grew up in a small town in southern Ontario and was ruthlessly bullied. When a grade eight teacher told her she was a writer, she thought the idea was crazy. Writers were white people. They were from England and America.

To be ‘sensible’ she graduated from college at the top of her class as a biological-chemical technician. When she couldn’t get a decent job she decided to be ‘unsensible’ and become a writer. It took eight years to get her first book published. Now she has twelve books published (one of which was chosen by the New York Public Library as one of the 100 greatest children’s books in the last 100 years).

Rukhsana Khan’s website & YouTube channel

~

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.

July 30th ~ World Day Against Trafficking in Persons

Sunday July 30th is World Day Against Trafficking in Persons ~ a few links with information, resources, and how you can help, with a special focus on the campaign of Save The Children

Save the Children
Child trafficking is a crime that exploits girls and boys for numerous purposes including forced labor and sex. Because child trafficking is lucrative and often linked with criminal activity and corruption, it is hard to estimate how many children suffer, but trafficking and exploitation is an increasing risk to children around the world. When human trafficking occurs, children are often trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation or for labor such as domestic servitude, agricultural work, factory work, mining or are forced to fight in conflicts”.

Some facts:

  • Human trafficking is a crime that exploits children.
  • Every country in the world is affected by human trafficking.
  • 98% of sexually abused survivors are women and children.
  • 168 million children are victims of forced labor.

Join Save the Children’s campaign to end girl child trafficking #ShesNotForSale

International Organization for Migration
“IOM works with governments, the private sector, civil society organizations, and other UN agencies to protect victims of trafficking and associated forms of exploitation and abuse; to prevent such abuses from occurring; and to support the development and implementation of policies aimed at the prevention and prosecution of these crimes and the protection of victims”. #EndHumanTrafficking

 

 

 

 

 

 

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
“On the 2017 World Day against Trafficking in Persons, UNODC calls on all to ‘act to protect and assist trafficked persons’. This topic highlights one of the most pressing issues of our time — the large mixed migration movements of refugees and migrants. The theme puts the spotlight on the significant impact of conflict and natural disasters, as well as the resultant, multiple risks of human trafficking that many people face. It addresses the key issue concerning trafficking responses: that most people are never identified as trafficking victims and therefore cannot access most of the assistance or protection provided”.

You can help! On July 30th, support a 24-hour crowd-funding campaign: United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Human Trafficking

Yo Cuento: Latin American immigrant children tell their stories

How (well) do immigrant children adjust to new shores? Researcher Monica Valencia, Ryerson University, asked a group of children to answer the question through drawings.

She found that there were 4 themes in the children’s drawings:

  1. Sadness (leaving behind family, friends, neighbourhood)
  2. Anxiety (unfamiliar, sometimes hostile environment)
  3. Frustration (so much new to learn! Language, customs)
  4. Gratitude for friendship (peer support critical to happy integration).

Read more about this research in a 2014 article written by The Toronto Star’s immigration reporter, Nicholas Keung,

See more immigration related stories by Keung here.

The New Yorker photo essay: Giving birth in different worlds

From The New Yorker:

“The photographs in the series “Hundred Times the Difference,” by the photographer Moa Karlberg, capture, in closeup, the faces of women in the final stages of giving birth. Across the images, there is a range of expressions: grit and sensuality, trepidation and expectation, pain and elation. But in their intimate perspective the photographs emphasize the women’s shared experience—the inward focus and physical determination in their final, transformative moments of becoming mothers”.

 

North American Refugee Health conference, June, 2015, Toronto

The North American Refugee Health conference will be held in Toronto, Canada from June 4-6, 2015. From the website:

“The three day event will focus on the best practices in refugee health. Lectures focus on contemporary issues in refugee health, mental health, OB/GYN, pediatrics, and primary care”.

immigrantchildren.ca is happy to see that children’s health issues is a major theme and will be following the conference twitter hashtag #NARHC2015.

Webinar on mental health of immigrant & refugee children in Canada

Morton Beiser CM, MD, FRCP, Scientist, Keenan Research Centre at Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St. Michael’s Hospital and Priya Watson, MD, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health present a webinar December 5, 2014, “I May look as if I’m feeling good, but sometimes I am and sometimes I’m not: The Mental health of immigrant and refugee kids in Canada”.

From the announcement:

“The speed with which immigrant kids as a whole learn new languages, their often spectacular school achievements and the apparent ease with which they take on the dress and behaviours of other Canadian kids can give the impression that all is well. That assumption would be a mistake. Although many immigrant kids and youth are probably integrating well, others are not. Some are experiencing difficulty in learning English and/or French, some are falling behind in school and dropping out before they should, some are experiencing problems with their families, some are having trouble deciding whether they are “ethnic”, Canadian or neither, many are facing discrimination, and some are being attracted to gang culture. Resettlement policies and programs for immigrant kids need to take into account the specific problems that these children and youth face that are above and beyond the developmental challenges common to all children. They also need to understand the resilience of immigrant youngsters and where this resilience comes from.

“Even if we had the best policies and programs in place (and we do not), some children and youth in immigrant families would develop mental health problems requiring specialized care. The fact that they are young people who have experienced major life disruptions, that they and their families may have language problems and that their cultural backgrounds likely differ from the health care professionals to whom their care is entrusted create particular issues that have to be resolved.

“In this Fireside Chat (webinar), Dr. Morton Beiser will summarize research and accumulated knowledge about the mental health of immigrant and refugee children and discuss how this information can provide a back-drop for policy and program planning. Dr. Priya Watson will discuss clinical guidelines for assessing and treating children from immigrant and refugee backgrounds”.

For more details, and information on how to register, click here.

Related Resources
Caring for Kids New to Canada
Caring for Kids New to Canada, Mental Health & Development

Researching resilience, a workshop for those working with marginalized and vulnerable populations living in challenging contexts

Dr. Michael Ungar and Dr. Linda Liebenberg are offering a five day long workshop entitled ‘Researching Resilience’.  From the announcement/poster:

“the workshop will present a comprehensive review of resilience theory as well as theoretical and methodological approaches (both quantitative and qualitative) to investigate the phenomenon across cultures and contexts. The workshop is designed to equip researchers in academic, government and NGO sectors, as well as graduate students, with the skills and tools to study resilience as a process across the lifespan”.

The workshop is being held April 28 to May 2, 2014 at the Resilience Research Centre, Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and will be followed by two concurrent workshops on May 5th and 6th.

Using visual methods in challenging contexts with Dr. Linda Liebenber. A brief description: “Image-based elicitation methods are gaining prominence in social science research. This workshop will review the grounded theory behind elicitation methods, current approaches to using image-based elicitation, the value of these approaches in answering particular research questions, and the integration of these approaches into research designs. Participants will discuss ethical considerations of elicitation research, and the limits and cautions to consider when using these approaches. The workshop will also provide hands-on experience with the steps to organize and analyze image-based data, which include coding visual tools and developing coding categories. No prior knowledge of or experience with visual methods or grounded theory is required”.

Counselling children, youth and families with complex needs: An Ecological approach to nurturing resilience across cultures and contexts with Dr. Michael Ungar. A brief description: “When treating children, youth and families who have experienced poverty, violence, marginalization, or psychological trauma, the focus is often too narrowly placed on individual complex needs and problems. Such focus on delinquency or conflict between children and caregivers misses the broader sources of healing and resilience in people’s lives. This workshop will present a strengths-focused model of intervention that draws on the potential capacity of people’s social ecologies (e.g. friends, cousins, parents, teachers, community and cultural mentors, government service providers, NGOs, etc.) as sources of resilience in contexts of significant adversity. Participants will learn how to identify and facilitate people’s access to seven factors that enhance resilience: 1) relationships; 2) a powerful identity; 3) a sense of personal control, agency and power; 4) social justice; 5) material resources like food, clothing, and safety; 6) a sense of belonging, life purpose, and spirituality; and 7) cultural rootedness. Participants will also learn 20 skills to help the people they work with experience each of these seven factors in their lives in ways that are psychologically meaningful and contextually relevant. Finally, the workshop will discuss a five-phase model of clinical practice to make interventions effective”.

Bonus: If you register for both the 5-day workshop and a 2-day workshop, you will receive a 50% discount off your registration for the 2-day event.

Learn more about the workshops here.

See highlights from the 4th On New Shores conference: Resilience of immigrants – Coping with stress in various cultural contexts where Dr. Ungar was a keynote speaker.

Healthy immigrant children, a research study

The University of Saskatchewan is conducting a research study on the health of immigrant and refugee children. The research question is “What is the nutritional status of newcomer immigrant and refugee children and how does it relate to health outcomes?”.

The study – ‘Healthy Immigrant Children”, or HIC, is a cross-sectional design, taking measurements from a sample of children who are newcomers to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The study hopes to identify the major nutrition and health issues and intervention needs for immigrant and refugee children and their families.

From the website:

“The objective of this research project is to characterize health and nutrition issues that affect immigrant and refugee newcomer children. There will then be a comparison of the impact of income-related household food insecurity on the health and nutrition status of newcomer children to those of Canadian children. In addition, the current support system for immigrants and refugees will be assessed”.

For more information, visit healthyimmigrant.ca

Health promotion and care for newcomer children

The Canadian Paediatric Society, along with partner organizations have developed a comprehensive website with information and resources for health care practitioners on how to support the healthy development of newcomer children in Canada.

Caring for Kids New to Canada makes clear the notion that “Caring for children and youth new to Canada involves more than a history and physical”. The website offers important information in 7 areas:

  • Assessment and screening
  • Medical conditions
  • Mental health and development
  • Health promotion
  • Culture and health
  • Providing care for newcomers
  • Beyond the clinic

The initiative’s vision statement:

“Children and youth new to Canada do not enjoy the same health status as their Canadian-born peers. We want to eliminate health disparities, so that no child is at a disadvantage because of their country of origin or family status. This website is a step in that direction. Our long-term goals are to:

  • Improve the ability of health care providers to deliver services to children and youth new to Canada.
  • Improve the ability of institutions to develop polices, practices and programs that are evidence-based and that meet the needs of newcomers and their families.
  • Improve the long-term health and developmental outcomes for children and youth new to Canada.
  • Reduce—and eventually eliminate—the gaps between the health of children/youth new to Canada and their Canadian-born peers”.

The site supports health care practitioners – and others who care for newcomer children – to learn about resources for immigrant children and families in their communities; how to provide culturally competent care; and how to assess if the patient is adjusting well to Canada.

Call for papers: International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care

The International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care is (from their website) “a multidisciplinary journal focusing on international migration. The journal’s focus includes coverage of labour migration, asylum seekers, refugees and undocumented migrants, with an emphasis on health and social care and mental health issues.

“The following themes are of particular interest to the journal:
– Health care of migrants and refugees
– Impact of displacement on health and social care needs
– Treatment of refugee children
– Impact of family separation
– Human trafficking
– Integration of migrants and refugees”.

Submissions should be sent to the Editor, Professor Charles Watters at charles.watters@rutgers.edu

Author Guidelines.

Call for papers: Honour/shame related violence in Canada

Amina Jamal, Mandeep Kaur Mucina and Farrah Khan are planning a symposium and edited collection of (as posted on website of the Institute for Feminist Legal Studies at Osgoode Hall) “critical essays on “honour” related violence. The idea for this anthology emerged initially in reaction to the murder of Aqsa Parvez and the responses of various institution and communities. As other murders of young women come to light in Canada, such as Amandeep Atwal, Jassi Sidhu, Zainab, Sahar and Geeti Shafia, we find that there are limited spaces for us to mourn and reflect on the complexities of these murders.

“Often the reactions of mainstream society and the questions posed to us are the following: is violence endemic to South Asian communities? Do some religions condone “honour “based killings? Reacting to the death and to the responses, the following questions became a central focus for our work: How can we begin discussing the complexities of violence in South Asian and other racialized communities? What are some ways to do this without reinscribing colonialist assumptions that violence lives in racialized cultures? Indeed how do we talk about violence within and with our communities outside of the parameters of dominant discourse? How do we demand accountability for gendered violence within our communities without serving the interests of institutional racism, economic exploitation, Islamophobia and hetero-national imperialism”?

Submissions are welcome from academics, community workers and activists from perspectives from sociology, critical criminology, education, gender studies, law, social work, cultural studies, communication and social psychology.

Suggested topics may include but are not limited to:

Popular media, critiques and questions
Grassroots movements to address violence
The “Honour” crimes industry
Sexual and bodily rights
Community conversations, healing, resiliency
The Construction of girlhood
Counseling frameworks and supports
Experiences in newcomer and/or racialized communities
State interventions and policies i.e. immigration
Role of institutions i.e. education and social services

The Editors are also planning to hold a symposium, inviting contributors to present their papers to “critique and share some of the work that is currently happening in the Canadian context”.

Deadline for abstracts: August 10, 2012. For more information, visit the IFLS website.