Conference call: Migration and the global city, Toronto

It looks like Ryerson University is working to launch a research institute devoted to immigration and settlement issues. Good luck to them. As part of this initiative, they are calling for proposals for a conference entitled “Migration and the Global City”. The conference, a launch to the proposed research centre, tentatively called the Ryerson Institute on Immigration and Settlement (RISS), will be held on the Ryerson campus from October 29-31, 2010.

A call for papers has been released here. Of particular interest to immigrantchildren.ca, conference themes include; Children and Youth; Citizenship, Migration and Identity; Precarious and Temporary Status; and Settlement Services.

The conference will feature a range of activities, including day-trips to local immigrant/settlement locations, a film-documentary screening and art-show, and a possible “CIHR-funded pre-conference on immigrant and refugee children and youth” (Source: Ryerson website). Ryerson – do let us know at immigrantchildren.ca how we can support this important inclusion!

Deadline for abstract submission is June 15, 2010.

Consequences of losing a lawful immigrant parent to deportation

The International Human Rights Law Clinic, the Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Race, Ethnicity and Diversity (UC, Berkeley) and the Immigration Law Clinic (UC, Davis) have recently released a policy brief entitled “In The Child’s Best Interest? The Consequences of Losing a  Lawful Immigrant Parent to Deportation”.

The brief reviews the current state of immigration law in the United States and the impact of the deportation of “lawful permanent resident parents” of more than 100,000 children (of which, more than 80,000 are US citizens).  A harrowing look at the impact of such deportations on children’s lives, education and relationships.

Citizenship: A birthright lottery?

Should folks fortunate enough to be born in the ‘developed’ world be obliged to share their privilege with those less lucky? Author – and Canada Research Chair in Citizenship and Multiculturalism, Ayelet Shachar thinks so. In her new book “The Birthright Lottery”, Shachar investigates the accident of birth and proposes several ways to reconsider (and bestow) citizenship.

Arguing that citizenship status has been arbitrarily given in most nations by birthright and that a child born in Canada ought not have such an unfair advantage over a child born in a poor nation. Among Shachar’s suggestions is a levy on “the inheritance of citizenship” or that citizenship be awarded based on the individual’s “genuine connection” to a country. Shachar asks important and provocative questions on what responsibilities global citizens have to each other.

Britain apologizes to home children

Federal Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, The Honourable Jason Kenney, continues to get positive responses from media and, as translated by an Environics poll, average Canadians, for his revamped citizenship guide, released last week. The new guide, Discover Canada, outlines the rights and responsibilities of new immigrants to Canada, and provides a more in-depth look at Canadian history than the previous editions, including, much to Kenney’s (and his advisor’s) credit, some of the shameful ways immigrants have been treated in this country.

For example, the guide acknowledges that Chinese immigrants were welcome to build the national railway, but afterwards, “were subject to discrimination including the Head Tax, a race-based entry fee; the Government of Canada apologized in 2006 for this discriminatory policy” (p.20). The guide also acknowledges the “relocation of West Coast Japanese Canadians by the Canadian government, and the forcible sale of their property (during WWII)…The Government of Canada apologized for wartime wrongs inflicted on Japanese Canadians” (p. 23).

immigrantchildren.ca welcomed the release of the new revised guide last week and hoped that it would include acknowledgment of the treatment of the “home children” – the approximately 100,000 children who were sent to Canada in a child emigration scheme and who were, as history tells us, routinely neglected, abused and often worked to their deaths. The new citizenship guide did not include mention of these littlest immigrants.

immigrantchildren.ca was delighted to read that the British government has apologized to the home children it sent away (see, for example, this piece in the National Post). A spokesperson from the organization Home Children Canada welcomed the news and demands such an apology from the Canadian government. The apology is not forthcoming.

The “home children” represent another shameful period in Canada’s history and also merits acknowledgment – in the next edition of Discover Canada, in the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, in a permanent display at Pier 21, in history text books and in an apology.

In two days, Canada will celebrate National Child Day and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. To keep moving forward on child rights, Canada needs to admit to its historic wrongs.

New citizenship guide for new Canadians

The Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism today released an updated guide to Canadian Citizenship. Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship.

The launch of the “study guide” (last published in 1997) was held at the Terry Fox Centre, where Minister Kenney talked about inspiration, fortune and his vision for modern Canada. The announcement – and guide – provide a generous nod to Canada’s military history and major events (the 1997 edition skipped quite a bit of this, including Vimy Ridge, Juno Beach, Dieppe). The guide also does not shy away from some shameful periods in Canada’s past, such as the residential schools for Aboriginal children, the Internment of Japanese Canadians and the Chinese Exclusion Act, but I was disappointed to not see mention of the home children.

Canadian history must acknowledge the home children – some 100,000 children taken from their homeland and brought to our shores to serve labour needs that Canadians could not or would not take on (sound familiar?). A great many of these children were younger than 10 years old and lived lives of brutality. These children were not adopted in the sense of how we use the word today, but taken, often bought and treated as chattel.  I’ll be lobbying the Canadian Museum of Human Rights to include an exhibit on the home children. Who’s with me?

Stateless children

Refugees International presents Futures Denied: Statelessness among infants, children and youth. According to tthe childtrafficking.com listserv, some 11-12 million children, “though born and raised in their parents country of habitual residence” are stateless or without effective nationality.

Stateless was a concern raised when new citizenship policy, impacting first generation of international adoptees, was introduced by the federal government in the Spring of 2009. The new regulations offered an option to grant immediate Canadian citizenship to adopted children, but put limits or conditions on any children they might have outside of Canada. The rationale for the policy change was to provide an additional option for adoptive parents who were pursuing citizenship status for adopted children through the naturalization process. For more info, including to external links, see the posts at immigrantchildren.ca and chidinterrupted.ca.

Putting the culture in multiculturalism

The Institute for Canadian Citizenship is partnering with Toronto-area cultural institutions, like galleries and museums, in offering new citizens – and their children – passess to local cultural attractions, such as the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Gardiner Museum, the Royal Ontario Museum, Colborne Lodge in High Park, Mackenzie House and many many others.

As of the end of June, the program has expanded into the Kitchener-Waterloo area.

For more information, visit Cultural Access Pass.

Young Canadian Muslim women

Status of Women Canada have funded the Canadian Council of Muslim Women to direct a project to assist the integration and inclusion of young Muslim women and girls.

From the April 2/09 news announcement:

Status of Women Canada will provide $314,000 for a project called “Being a Canadian Muslim Woman in the 21st Century.” It will focus on equipping young Muslim women to lead and participate in a number of workshops with their educators and non-Muslim and male peers to discuss discrimination, violence and human rights.

The Council will be working in partnership with two other organizations – the Afghan Women’s Organization of Toronto and YOUCAN.

A description of the project from the Status of Women website:

This project will involve seven schools from across Ontario located in Toronto, London, Peel and Waterloo. Muslim girls and their classmates will develop leadership skills as well as knowledge of their rights regarding gender equality, racial equality and how to eliminate violence in their lives. Muslim girls, with the assistance of their educators, non-Muslim and male peers, will form a Steering Committee in each school. These Committees will lead a series of workshops addressing discrimination, violence and human rights. A Steering Committee Coordinator will organize each school to contribute to the formation of a tool for educators. This tool will provide a basis for reacting sensitively and knowledgably to the issues facing young Muslim women in the 21st century.

Maclean’s interview with Minister Jason Kenney

Last week’s Maclean’s featured an interview with federal Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, the Honoourable Jason Kenney.

Kenney reiterated his position favouring interculturalism over multiculturalism and suggests that 2nd generation immigrants – the children of immigrants – are particularly vulnerable to cultural segregation. Quoting Tony Blair, Kenney says “…in our liberal society everyone has a right to be different but a duty to integrate“.

The editorial this week responds to Kenney’s comments in “Our weak identity isn’t an immigration problem“.

Related posts on immigrantchildren.ca:

Mothering and migration: (Trans)nationalism, globalization & displacement

Call for papers for a conference from the Association for Research on Mothering (ARM), as posted on the mnchp-l listserv: Mothering and Migration: (Trans)nationalisms, Globalization, and Displacment. The conference will be held February 18-20, 2010 at the University of Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico.

Submissions are welcome from scholars, students, activists, government agencies and workers, artists, mothers, and others who work or research in the area. Cross-cultural, historical and comparative work is encouraged. Topics can include (but not limited to):

Representations/images of mothers and migration and (trans)national issues; globalization of motherhood; empowering migrant mothers; reproduction and movement of mother workers; migrant and (trans)national mothers and capitalism; migrant and (trans)national mothers and activism; public policy issues.

For more information, contact the ARM at arm@yorku.ca or 416.736.2100 ext 60366. Or visit the ARM website. Abstract and bio deadline is Sept 1/09.