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“.

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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 or 416.736.2100 ext 60366. Or visit the ARM website. Abstract and bio deadline is Sept 1/09.

New citizenship law

An amendment to the existing Citizenship Act comes into force April 17, 2009. Changes will impact citizenship status on different groups, including children. Here’s the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) official explanation on the first generation limitation (CIC reports that it will update the page for more information, as questions are raised): 

Under the current rules, it’s possible for Canadians to pass on their citizenship to endless generations born outside Canada. To protect the value of Canadian citizenship for the future, the new law will – with a few exceptions – limit citizenship by descent to one generation born outside Canada.

This means that children born to Canadian parents in the first generation outside Canada will only be Canadian at birth if:

– one parent was born in Canada, or

– one parent became a Canadian citizen by immigrating to Canada and was later granted citizenship (also called naturalization).

The rules may also affect children adopted by Canadian parents outside Canada, depending on the way in which the child obtained, or will obtain, their Canadian citizenship. Learn more about the new citizenship law and adoption

Bernard van Leer annotated bibliography on social inclusion and diversity in early childhood

The Bernard van Leer Foundation‘s annotated bibliography of resources and publications in social inclusion and diversity is called “Valuing the Learning“.

The resource is organized in three main sections.

Section A: Theories, concepts and ways of viewing concerns with resources that mostly focus on theory and key concepts and include the following overlapping sections:

Diversity, belonging and positive identity, such as inclusion and access, linguistic diversity, relationships, place identity, self-image.

Children as citizens, child participation, the visibility of children, spaces for children.

Early Childhood Education and Care as democratic process and the relationship between ECEC and social inclusion, social capital and well-being.

Section B: Working with children, parents, early childhood practitioners and trainers includes the following:

Engaging, involving and listening to children.

Engaging, involving and listening to parents.

Changing attitudes, behaviours and structures and advocacy strategies. 

Innovative training and professional development.

Creating spaces to belong.

Part C: Information exchange and dissemination of information, including:


Communicating, through shared knowledge, conferences, publications, translations.

Researching and documentation.

Source: Kernan, M. 2008. Valuing the learning: An annotated bibliography of the resources and publications of the Bernard van Leer Foundation and its partners in the area of Social Inclusion and Respect for Diversity (2002-2008). Online Outreach Paper 6. The Hague, The Netherlands: Bernard van Leer Foundation.

Early childhood education and racial and ethnic divisions conference, Belgium

The Joint Learning Initiative on Children and Ethnic Diversity presents Early Childhood Education in Contexts of Racial and Ethnic Divisions Conference, April 29/09 at Ghent University, Belgium.

“The conference will consist of three to four round table discussions with the experts on common strands about delivering programs of early childhood education in contexts of ethnic division. The experts will meet two days prior to the conference to discuss these strands and will continue their discussion with the audience. Consequently, there will be no programm with distinct individual key-note speeches. Rather, participants will be able to follow in-depth discussions and participate in them”.

Some of the invited experts include representatives from Universidad Autonoma de Mexico, Hebrew University, UNICEF/OSI/REF, University of Melbourne and the Bernard van Leer Foundation.

Diversity and children in Ireland

The Bernard van Leer Foundation has released a working paper (another in its series on child development). Developing Programmes to Promote Ethnic Diversity in Early Childhood reviews case studies from Northern Ireland for promising practices in promoting ethnic diversity in early childhood. 

The paper examines the effects of ethnic divisions on young children and explores some of the responses of the early childhood sector and concludes with challenges and suggestions on the Joint Learning Initiative on Children and Ethnic Diversity, co-founded by Paul Connolly, one of the authors of this working paper.

Children of a new world, by Paula S. Fass

Excerpts from: Nihal Ahioglu. Review of Fass, Paula S. Children of a new world: Society, culture and globalization. H-Childhood, N-Net Reviews. April 2009. (Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial Works).

Children of a New World is an impressive book consisting of essays that the author has previously published on children in nineteenth- and twentieth-century America. Two underlying themes connect these essays. The first suggest that childhood has become a significant working area in social history. Though these essays are profoundly informed by social history and carry a deep concern about large-scale shifts in the experience of children, Paula S. Fass also provides sharp pieces of cultural analysis. She relates her evidence to political history, and to other disciplines, such as literature, education and psychology. 

From the interpretation of children and childhood using a broadly conceived historical approach, Fass reveals her second main theme: the influence of a “new world” or “globalization” on children and the meanings of childhood.

In the first part of the book, Fass emphasizes historical change regarding children and the meanings of childhood in terms of schooling and migration in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century America. Schooling was critical in a pluralistic society accommodating a great number of immigrants. Integrating different cultures into the same values and thus the idea of establishing “a mutual national identity” become one of the most important aims in these years. In spite of the existence of such a political objective, to protect and maintain their own cultures, immigrants preferred alternative or religious schools for their children. Nevertheless, changing economical conditions and the rise of specialized clerks increased the significance of public schooling. In this context, intelligence tests were invented to predict what an individual could accomplish with education or training. Testing served as a tool for solving social and cultural problems by sorting children and (purportedly) allowing the educational and child welfare systems to meet the psychological needs of individuals. According to Fass, it caused a kind of segregation in education to the disadvantage of immigrant youths because the tests were culturally biased. Complementing the intelligence testing movement in the interwar period, American educators attempted to develop a comprehensive and uniform curriculum. The new curriculum included “extracurricular activities”, through which students found opportunities to prove their self-direction in social, citizenship, athletic and academic subjects. This was aimed to improve the citizenship and advance assimilation of diverse cultural groups. But the results were not always so straightforward….

The last two centuries have been a period in which significant changes have occurred in childhood. Children of a New World presents this change strikingly to readers by using different social, cultural, and economic incidents, events, and experiences. In addition to presenting different examples about the social history of children and the cultural history of childhood in a systematic and analytical way, this book encourages us to ask new questions about how these distinctive stories fit into a larger modern transformation of childhood.

The neglect of citizen children in US immigration policy

A new study by Dorsey and Whitney, LLP for the Urban Institute raises several issues with regard to the impact of immigration policy on immigrant- and citizen-children of immigrants in the US.

Severing a Lifeline: The Neglect of Citizen Children in America’s Immigration Enforcement Policy begins with the startling statistic that of the 5 million “illegal immigrants” in the United States, 3 million are actually children citizens, born in the USA.

From the executive summary:

“US citizen children are the victims of immigration laws that are out of step with the manner in which we address child welfare issues in other areas of the law. The “best interests” of the child find little or no hearing in the process of detaining and deporting undocumented parents. The hard suffered by the citizen child who loses a parent to deportation, or the citizen child who loses his or her prospective future in the United States in the interests of maintaining family unity, is thus the natural consequence of systemic shortcomings in US immigration law and policy.

“The primary goal of this report is to reveal, and to prompt meaningful and reasoned debate regarding, the deficiencies in this country’s immigration laws and enforcement scheme relative to the interests of our citizen children”.

The study includes a series of comprehensive recommendations for reform.

On becoming American: The developmental risk to immigrant children

Brown University is holding a conference on the “Immigrant Paradox”, the notion that in spite of the challenges faced by immigrant children, research shows better behavioural and educational results than children of immigrants who have been in the United States for generations but that any developmental gains may deteriorate as children become more integrated in US culture.

The Immigrant Paradox in Education and Behavior: Is Becoming American a Developmental Risk? will be held from 8:30am to 5pm at Pembroke Hall, Room 305, March 6-7, 2009.

The conference is open to all. For more information, visit the conference website.

Canadians of convenience

The National Post today reports on new rules in the citizenship process that may render children – adopted by Canadians or born to Canadians outside of Canadian soil – as less than full-Canadian citizens. Read the story here.

The Fraser Institute interprets this as a way to protect Canada from ‘citizens of convenience’: As quoted in the Jan 16/09 National Post story: “If you’re going to be a Canadian, you have to have some substantive ties. If you keep giving citizenship on indefinitely to your progeny and their progeny, the ties are pretty questionable.”

Multiculturalism is bad for immigrant children

National Post columnist George Jonas examines what he terms the Canadian “multiculturalism fallacy” and finds that the notion of promoting diversity (vs. tolerating it) creates “outsiders”. This is, in Jonas’ view, particularly harmful for immigrant children. Ethnic and religious minorities are tolerated in good societies, such as Canada and persecuted in bad ones, such as the Third Reich, says Jonas. 

From the article: “Diversity is no organizing principle: it’s a fact of existence. It’s part of the human condition. It’s neither to be swept under the carpet nor to be run up the flagpole. It’s neither the solvent of nationhood nor its glue. For immigrant nations such as Canada it’s a reality to cope with, accept and turn to advantage if possible. It isn’t something to aim for, celebrate, cherish or try to etch in stone”.

 “We accept being outsides in someone else’s country more easily than in our own, and we regard the country in which we’re born as ours. That’s why if unassimilated “diverse” communities produce misfits, malcontents, traitors or outright terrorists, they’re more likely to produce them in the second or third generation. The jihadist is the native son rather than the immigrant father”.

Jonas concludes: “Emphasizing diversity over integration bequeaths a legacy of civil conflict to one’s children”. Read the full article here.

Canada grants citizenship to Santa

The federal minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, the Honourable Jason Kenney has granted full Canadian citizenship to Santa Claus.

Quoting Minister Kenney’s official statement in the Edmonton Sun: “The Government of Canada wishes Santa the very best in his Christmas Eve duties and wants to let him know that, as a Canadian citizen, he has the automatic right to re-enter Canada once his trip around the world is complete” (Dec 23/08).

From the Montreal Gazette: “Less than three weeks after the Canadian government proposed legislation to expand the country’s sovereignty over Arctic waters, its citizenship minister is shoring up Canada’s claim to the Far North by declaring Santa Claus, a longtime resident of the North Pole, to be a Canadian citizen” (Dec 23/08). 

To those who observe the holiday, Happy Christmas from