The Canadian Race Relations Foundation is launching a book club for educators with the theme of Understanding the Refugee Experience through Children’s Literature.
March 5th in Toronto. Registration required: firstname.lastname@example.org 416-441-1900.
The Canadian Race Relations Foundation is launching a book club for educators with the theme of Understanding the Refugee Experience through Children’s Literature.
March 5th in Toronto. Registration required: email@example.com 416-441-1900.
Readers of immigrantchildren.ca will know that I am passionate about children’s literature and the role it plays in supporting and promoting integration of newcomer children and their families. The blog has regularly featured picture books related to immigration, refugees, citizenship, anti-racism, and etc. I am happy to continue by promoting an exhibit launched yesterday by the Toronto Public Library on the Canadian picture book. The exhibit can be seen at the Toronto Reference Library at 789 Yonge St, just north of Bloor St. It runs until January 21, 2018.
Content below taken from the TPL website:
I Am Canada: Celebrating Canadian Picture Book Art
Image credit: © 2017 Danielle Daniel
About the Exhibit
Hope, happiness, possibilities … home. What does Canada mean to you?
Children’s picture books tell many stories about what it is like to grow up in Canada. This exhibit celebrates the work of best-loved Canadian illustrators who bring these stories to life.
I Am Canada showcases original picture book art from Toronto Public Library’s Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books and the private collection of Scholastic Canada, which has been introducing young people to the joys of reading for 60 years.
From I Am Canada: A Celebration, © 2017 Barbara Reid
Every Tuesday at 2 pm. Meet inside the TD Gallery. Drop in. No registration required.
To organize group tours or class visits, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
From The Paper Bag Princess, © 1980 Michael Martchenko
From Jillian Jiggs, © 1985 Phoebe Gilman
Related Programming: I Am Canada Storytimes
Join us for stories inspired by growing up in Canada. Select dates feature special guests, Irene Luxbacher and Stella Partheniou Grasso.
Every Tuesday at 10 am
To organize class visits, please contact: email@example.com
From Caribou Song, © 2001 Brian Deines
From The Dragon’s Egg, © 1994 Frances Tyrrell
Do you know a booklover between five and 12 years old? Have them participate in the CBC Books Fan Choice contest for a chance to win some cool prizes, including:
Check out the CBC Books website for details.
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”.
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
10. Syrian refugee children are welcomed to Canada with a dedicated play area at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport. #WelcomeRefugees starts trending! Shared by @viraniarif.
9. The 1000 Schools Challenge rallies Canadian schools to welcome refugee children. Shared by @SetAtWork.
8. StatsCan releases report on immigrant children’s performance in math vs. their Canadian-born peers. Research matters! Shared by @StatCan_eng.
7. Syrian refugee children: A Guide for welcoming young children and their families is released. Shared by @CMASCanada.
6. The UNHCR & COSTI holds a Human Rights Child & Youth Poetry Contest. Art matters! Shared by @marcopolis.
5. The 2015 Prosperity Index names Canada the most tolerant country in the world. Shared by @CGBrandonLee.
4. Forty-six visible minorities are elected in #Elxn42. If they can see it, they can be it! Shared by @Andrew_Griffith.
3. Canada elects a government with a self-proclaimed feminist prime minister, who creates a Cabinet committee on diversity and inclusion, puts refugees in the immigration portfolio, and who returns the multiculturalism file to Canadian Heritage.
2.Trent University recognizes child care champion Martha Friendly with an honourary PhD. Martha is an advocate for inclusive, culturally-appropriate child care and early childhood education for all children in Canada. Shared by @TorontoStar.
New government! New opportunities!
immigrantchildren.ca calls on Justin Trudeau, Minister for Youth, John McCallum, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, and Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development to create an inter-ministerial committee to support and promote immigrant and refugee children’s healthy integration into Canadian society.
2012 was an exceptionally busy year in the Canadian immigration system. Building on last year’s “Top 10 Canadian Immigration Stories of 2011,” Z Sonia Worotynec, Gregory Johannson, Bonnie Mah and Marco Campana present a similar top 10 list for 2012. For each story, we’ve provided a brief introduction, some background and related links and resources.
This year’s overarching theme: while 2011 was the year of consultations, 2012 was a year of change. It brought an explosive number of changes and proposed changes to the ways that Canada selects and treats immigrants, refugees and citizens as well as how we talk about immigrants and refugees. Multiple announcements and re-announcements from the Minister’s office made it challenging to figure out what changes had been made, what had been proposed only, and when changes or proposed changes would take effect.
1. Selection of Economic Class Immigrants
2012 brought big changes to the way economic-class immigrants to Canada are selected. The Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), often considered the backbone of Canada’s economic immigration, was the target of many of the proposed changes.
2. Refugee Reform
2012 witnessed the most significant reforms to refugee policy in Canada in at least a decade, encompassing legislative and policy changes. The most substantive reforms were passed in Bill C-31, An Act to Amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
3. Facilitating Temporary Residence and Two-Step Immigration
The trend towards temporary resident growth continued in 2012. In particular, a number of changes made it easier for employers to bring temporary foreign workers to Canada.
4. Conditional Permanent Residence
The government enacted a two-year period of conditional permanent residence on sponsored spouses. This could mark a precedent for a new, longer road to permanent status for future Canadians.
5. Focus on Security
The government took various steps in 2012 that can be seen as extending its “law and order” agenda to the immigration and refugee system.
6. Community Response to Immigration and Refugee Reform
Alongside political debate over Bill C-31 (and its predecessors), a more dynamic dialogue has taken place between community members, groups, the media and politicians. The increasing salience of this debate on both sides of the political spectrum is important for all Canadians.
7. Culture Clash?
The niqab has been a hot button political issue in Canada for some time. According to the CBC, the wearing of the niqab has “divided Canadians and even the Muslim-Canadian community, which debates whether the niqab has any religious significance under Islam.”
8. Public Discourse and Immigration
Immigration jumped to the fore of public discourse in 2012. It was a year when information and discourse about immigration was as exceptionally high as it was polarized.
9. Increased Selectivity in Who Becomes a Refugee
In public and political discourse, 2012 marked a departure from the concept of political neutrality in refugee claims. We saw significant politicization of refugeehood, and more common acceptance of the concept that the political realm should have a stake in who receives protection.
10. Citizenship Changes
2012 saw significant changes and proposed changes to Canadian citizenship.
For details on these top ten stories, visit the Maytree blog.
Yesterday I attended a local community forum, Dialogue on Diversity: Immigrant Civic Participation, sponsored by the Waterloo Immigration Partnership, Regional Municipality of Waterloo. The event was MC’d by Lucia Harrison, ED of the Kitchener-Waterloo Multicultural Centre. The keynote speaker was the President of the Maytree Foundation, Ratna Omidvar.
Omidvar used her time well, bringing Alan Broadbent’s Three I’s of Integration (Investment, Intentionality, Instruments) to our attention, the Maytree’s Five Good Ideas project, to name only two. But it was her discussion about the language we use in Canada when discussing immigration that really caught my interest. We talk about multiculturalism, interculturalism, multiversalism, and the dreaded by almost all – tolerance.
Omidvar always has enlightening and thought provoking things to say about immigration and settlement, but I want to focus on a challenge she posed to those of us attending the forum. With regard to language, Omidvar proposed that the word integration is problematic – that is somehow diminishes the newcomer by subsuming her into the Other, new world she is settling in, that the accommodations made are made by the newcomer. Inclusion however is, according to Omidvar, a 2-way street and one that welcomes the participation of the newcomer (which was the point of the event: how to engage newcomer participation).
Those who come from the early learning and child care and family support sector have long been advocates of the word – and concept – of inclusion. For us, inclusion has always meant that ‘everyone belongs’: families with children with special needs, families and children living in poverty, Aboriginal children and families, immigrant and refugee children and families, urban children and families, rural children and families, children and families living in Northern and remote communities, etc. All children share the same rights of participation (see UN Convention on the Rights of the Child). So, we like this move in the immigrant/settlement community towards the language of inclusion. What do you think?
A number of years ago, the Laidlaw Foundation commissioned a series of reports on social inclusion for marginalized groups. It’s a joy to share these (PDFs) once again in the hopes they are useful in furthering the discussion about immigrant/newcomer inclusion (1 co-written by Omidvar):
Social Inclusion, Anti-Racism and Democratic Citizenship, Anver Saloojee (2003)
Immigrant Settlement and Social Inclusion in Canada, Ratna Omidvar and Ted Richmond (2003)
Social Inclusion as Solidarity: Re-thinking the Child Rights Agenda, Michael Bach (2002)
Social Inclusion for Canadian Children through Early Childhood Education and Care, Martha Friendly and Donna Lero (2002)
These papers addressing inclusion among marginalized and disadvantaged groups can help us support and promote the language of inclusion for newcomer children and their families. I urge you to re-visit them.
February 21st marks the UNESCO International Mother Language Day (IMLD).
International Mother Language Day (IMLD) was first proclaimed in 1999. It has been recognized since 2000 to promote languages of the world and is of special note to immigrantchildren.ca who see the day as recognition of the importance of maintaining a child’s first, or home, or ‘mother’ language. It is an opportunity to reflect on the importance of linguistic diversity and multilingualism.
“The language of our thoughts and our emotions is our most valuable asset. Multilingualism is our ally in ensuring quality education for all, in promoting inclusion and in combating discrimination.”
Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO
The Newcomer On the Move project is built upon the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity (CAAWS) proven On the Move concept, which advocates for fun-filled, female-only programs where participants can build their skills and self-confidence.
Community-based On the Move programs provide participants with opportunities to try new sports and physical activities, visit and become familiar with community physical activity facilities and service providers, learn healthy living skills, and build a foundation for life-long healthy living.
A Newcomer on the Move workshop is being offered on Tues Feb 28, 1-4:30pm at the South Common Community Centre, Ivor Woodlands Room. From the announcement:
“The Newcomer On the Move workshop is an exciting opportunity to come out and learn how we can increase the participation of newcomer girls in sport, recreation, and physical activity.The Newcomer On the Move workshop is designed for anyone with an interest in the health and well-being of girls and young women who are new to Canada and would like to learn how to increase their participation in activities/recreation and sport programs.
“Following the workshop we will be creating an advisory committee and an exciting new initiative to help increase the participation of newcomer girls in sports and recreation.
“During this interactive Newcomer On the Move Workshop, participants will:
See here for a complete list of workshops (that started in Jan 2012 and run to April 2012 .
RSVP to Heather Coupey, Community Development Coordinator, City of Mississauga, at 905-615-3200 x 3407 or firstname.lastname@example.org by February 20, 2012.
On February 3, 2012, Carl James, Director of the Centre for Education and Community at York University will speak on the topic of “Growing up in the suburbs: The hidden costs of social mobility for the children of immigrant parents” as part of the City Seminar series. The event will take place at 305 York Lanes from 12:30pm-2pm.
Top Canadian Migration Stories in 2011
2011 had many events, policies and debates/discussions on the theme of migration in Canada. These are a selection of what 3 of us* believe to be among the top stories. For each item, there is a brief introduction, some background and links and other resources that may prove useful.
1. IMMIGRATION POLICY
2011 was a year for changes and consultations leading to changes in Canadian immigration policy, from temporary foreign workers, to family reunification, to refugee processing and more.
A series of changes with potentially long-term impacts on Canada’s immigration policy and regulations occurred in 2011. There have been consultations, the results of which we may see over the next few years. One thing appears certain, the shift from an immigration policy focused on family reunification and concerns to one focused on economic and security considerations continues.
The federal government introduced a parental sponsorship embargo and something they’re calling “Super visas”. The Super Visa is a multi-entry visa valid for 10 years that will provide multiple entries of up to two years each. No new parent/grandparent sponsorship applications will be accepted until Nov 5, 2013. The government plans to consult during this time to determine how the parent/grandparent sponsorship program should be redesigned.
Initial responses to this moratorium on parent/grandparent sponsorship, replaced with an extended visa offer, have been positive. However, there have been some concerns about the realities of medical insurance for inviting families, including costs and limited health care coverage. Time will tell how this change will impact the parent/grandparent backlog and quality of family reunification.
See also: Government of Canada to cut backlog and wait times for family reunification – Phase I of Action Plan for Faster Family Reunification.
Regarding refugees, Bill C4 and the Refugee Determination System are covered in other sections, but there are some additional policy-related items that are worth noting.
Notice of Intent Regarding Changes to the Private Sponsorship of Refugees (PSR) Program The government is seeking input into proposed regulatory amendments in the private refugee sponsorship program.
“Bill C-11, the Balanced Refugee Reform Act has received Royal Assent. These reforms will improve Canada’s asylum system, resettle more refugees from abroad and make it easier for refugees to start their lives in this country.” Implementation of the Balanced Refugee Reform Act has been delayed until June 2012.
According to Peter Showler: “radically alters Canada’s refugee claim system and the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) was confronted with an enormous administrative task to prepare for the new system. The IRB has been charged with hiring and training hundreds of new staff to serve as Interview Officers and Refugee Protection Division members who will be public servants under the new act. In addition the Board was in the course of creating an entire new division, the Refugee Appeal Division, to hear appeals of refugee decisions.”
Showler has also made recommendations of how best to implement Canada’s new refugee policy and processing system.
Regarding immigrant selection, a series of consultations have been held that look specifically at the types of immigrants Canada “should” be selecting. The consultations have a strong economic/employment/worker class focus. See the following links for more information:
Stakeholder Consultation on the Temporary Foreign Worker Program
Immigration Levels and Mix: Stakeholder and Public Consultation
The Federal Skilled Worker Program: Stakeholder and Public Consultation
Changes for live-in caregivers
2. SECURITY FOCUS
A global trend has been a shifting focus to security concerns, which carries implications for immigrants and asylum-seekers. The Obama/Harper announcement on the Security and Economic Action Plan, and other political events in the year past raise concerns on how this trend will pan out domestically.
In Canada and elsewhere in the past decade there has been an increasing focus on security, which may come at the expense of immigrants and asylum-seekers. The unprecedented publication of 30 suspected war criminals in July by the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) is one example. Despite the consensus that war criminals should be prosecuted, this may represent an elevation of security concerns over the rights of individual immigrants and asylum-seekers. Regarding this publication, Amnesty International raised the concern that: “Canada overwhelmingly resorts to immigration enforcement measures rather than the criminal law.” With the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) being only a quasi-judicial agency, this can be problematic in that individuals are not afforded adequate opportunity to defend themselves against said charges, and – regardless of their crimes – that they may face cruel or unusual punishment including torture if deported.
A second issue that may result in the prioritization of security concerns over immigrant rights is the recent announcement of the “Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness Action Plan”. On one hand, the agreement may assist in the determination of legitimate immigration and refugee claims; the report writes that it well help by “facilitating ongoing efforts to streamline procedures at the Canada-United States border”. Because the agreement was only recently announced there is limited analysis and discourse on the implications it may hold for immigrants and asylum-seekers. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association raises several issues that may impact refugees, namely the repercussions for refugees and asylum-seekers currently living in Canada, and whether Canadian legal and humanitarian obligations will can be upheld under the arrangement.
The broader focus on security issues in Canada and elsewhere demands monitoring and scrutiny on behalf of all those impacted, especially immigrants and asylum-seekers owing to their particular vulnerabilities as newcomers to Canada.
3. IMMIGRATION CONSULTANTS
In June, the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC) was designated by the federal government to act as the regulatory body for immigration consultants and immigration lawyers. The ICCRC replaced the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants (CSIC). Citizenship continued to be a hot topic, with the revocation of citizenship from almost 5,000 individuals at the end of 2011, due to widespread immigration consultant fraud, according to the federal government.
4. BILL C-4 and HUMAN TRAFFICKING
Bill C-4 seeks to impede human smuggling in Canada. It proposes mandatory imprisonment of asylum-seekers illegally entering Canada, among other provisions. Critics contend it entails harsh treatment of asylum-seekers and that it is inconsistent with Canadian constitutional law and international legal obligations.
Bill C-4, known as “Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada’s Immigration System Act” seeks to discourage human smuggling and trafficking operations into Canada. A fear that has been expressed by groups including the Canadian Council of Refugees and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association is that Bill C-4 less penalizes those responsible for smuggling and trafficking than it does individuals that seek asylum.
When the Bill was introduced in 2010, Minister of Immigration Jason Kenney stated it: “will help to prevent the abuse of Canada’s immigration system by human smugglers, while allowing us to continue offering protection to the world’s most vulnerable.” The press release issued to coincide with its introduction states that it will “[Ensure] mandatory detention of illegal migrants for up to one year to allow for the determination of identity, inadmissibility and illegal activity.” It is argued that provisions such as the detention of illegal migrants will discourage human smuggling.
Several objections that have been raised. In terms of international legal obligations, Canada is a signatory to the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees, which states that parties to the Convention: “shall not impose penalties, on account of their illegal entry or presence” on individuals claiming refugee status, until their status is determined. Under Canadian Law, The Canadian Association of Refuge Lawyers contends the Bill infringes four sections of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, including Section 7, which “provides that everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person.”
There is also concern for the harm this will cause asylum-seekers. The CCR states that Bill C-4 will lead to arbitrary detention, create a discriminatory framework in its creation of different classes of refugees, that it punishes refugees and prevents their claims from being heard for at least a year. The CCLA outlines that detention would apply regardless of age (including both seniors and minors) or innocence.
Minister Jason Kenney Op-Ed in defense of Bill C-4 CCR Resource Page: http://ccrweb.ca/en/c4
5. REFUGEE DETERMINATION SYSTEM
Three issues gained salience in the Canadian refugee determination system in 2011: Patronage-based hiring processes for the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB), divergences among Federal Court Judges in acceptance rates of appeal cases from the IRB, and the failure to implement the Refugee Appeal Division.
Peter Showler, a former Chair of the IRB stated in 2009 that: “the Conservatives are starting to do what the Liberals did a lot of, which is to appoint people not based on merit but based upon their connections with the Conservative Party.” In a 2009 audit, the Public Service Commission found a statistically significant number of appointments were not based on merit. In 2011 this issue regained significance when the PSC took over “investigating and fixing” staffing issues at the IRB, citing ongoing shortcomings. With research in 2011 demonstrating wide differences among IRB members granting refugee status (from Edward Robinson granting status to 4.29% of 140 cases, versus Stuart Mutch granting 81.29% of 171 cases), the integrity of the appointment process for the IRB has come under even greater scrutiny.
If denied refugee status, applicants have three options for recourse, one of which is to appeal to the Federal Court of Canada. Studies have shown divergences among leaves granted by Federal Court judges. In one study Sean Rehaag found that appeals made to the FCC were twice as likely to succeed if heard by Liberal-appointed judges than by Conservative-appointed judges. As an extreme, Justice Crampton (appointed by Harper) granted leave to 1.75% of applicants, while Justice Campbell (appointed by Chretien) granted leave to 62% of applicants. These numbers have caused concern to refugee applicants, those representing them, and organizations in the refugee advocacy sector.
Beyond options noted, there has been a further legislatively-defined but unimplemented recourse in place since the 2001 Immigration and Refugee Act – the Refugee Appeal Division – which would hear appeals from the Refugee Protection Division of the IRB within the IRB apparatus itself. Consecutive governments have sought to implement the Division, but have not done so. Jason Kenney announced in 2011 that the Refugee Appeal Division would be implemented in the near future (possibly in December), but it has yet to materialize.
Audit of the IRB: http://www.psc-cfp.gc.ca/adt-vrf/rprt/2009/airb-vcisr/airb-vcisr-eng.pdf
2001 Immigration and Refugee Act: http://laws.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/I-2.5/FullText.html
6. INCLUSION and WELCOMING of ETHNIC COMMUNITIES
It’s been a year of much media and community discussion about the role and value of immigrants, racialized communities (v. the more contentious term “visible minorities”) in Canadian society. Are we achieving true integration/inclusion, or is the commitment to diversity merely political lip service? Let’s look at a few stories.
The May 2011 federal election highlighted the so-called “ethnic vote” and the political party’s jockeying to garner that vote. It’s believed that traditionally, the Liberal Party of Canada (LPC) had the ethnic vote tied up, but in recent years, aggressive outreach by the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) – and in particular, immigration minister, The Honourable Jason Kenney’s, efforts proved beneficial to the CPC. Indeed, Kenney garnered the praise of many pro-immigrant advocates for his relentlessness in insisting newcomers ‘fit in’, get acclimated to Canadian culture and values, and participate fully in Canadian society. Of course, criticisms were made in response on several levels. Many newcomers come to Canada because they have a skill, education and experience in a profession or trade. When they arrive, all too often, they are denied practice in their field due to a lack of “Canadian experience”.
While the “political coming of age” of immigrant voters may appear to have arrived, it has not yet for diverse political representation. DiverseCity Toronto’s Counts 4 report outlined how the diversity gap in elected office is deeper and wider than previously thought.
Another story in 2011 that asked the question about accommodation of diverse communities was sparked by a complaint brought forward by the Canadian Hindu Advocacy when they learned about the Toronto District School Board‘s (TDSB) religious accommodation policy – and practice in one its schools. Children in a school in North Toronto had a scheduled prayer session (and room) during school hours to allow Muslim students to pray. The school defended their action by citing the absenteeism of Muslim students, who left school grounds to pray. In simple terms, offering the prayer session at the school was a practical solution to an absenteeism problem. This story brought much attention to the question of what are the limits to religious accommodation? School boards are expected to take appropriate steps to provide religious accommodation for students and staff. Much discussion centered on whether or not this particular accommodation went too far.
The specter of “honour killings” again made the news in what has become to be known as “the Shafia trial.” It is alleged that Shafia, his son, and his second wife, plotted to murder the daughters, who were warming to western ways and rejecting fundamentalist Islam practices (talking to boys, not observing hijab). CBC provided a “history of honour killings”.
For many community observers, 2011 was a strong year for islamophobia, with the Prime Minister Harper stating that ‘Islamicism’ is Canada’s biggest security threat.
Minister Kenney’s latest salvo was his announcement that women wearing a niqab at citizenship ceremonies would be denied their certificates. Kenney unilaterally declared that no one’s face could be covered at Citizenship ceremonies, which was a direct challenge to the wearing of the niqab. Shortly before this pronouncement, a woman was assaulted at a Toronto mall for wearing a niqab. And, a Supreme Court case was looking at whether or not a court witness could keep her face covered when offering testimony.
In all of these cases, the niqab was the target and public sentiment on the topic, especially in online comments, was ugly.
The city of Gatineau, Quebec, published a guide for new immigrants, including a “statement of values.” Many found the publication insulting and degrading.
The year ended with a strong call to work on inclusion by Ratna Omidvar of Maytree:
Alan Broadbent’s Three I’s of Immigrant Integration
Robert Latham’s proposal for “multiversalism” v. “multiculturalism
7. ECONOMIC INTEGRATION for SKILLED IMMIGRANTS
Economic and labour market integration of skilled newcomers has been an ongoing issue for Canada and, in general, for all receiving countries. Ontario has formally been looking at this issue since 1989 when the provincial government released what is a seminal report on the topic. Many of the issues outlined in this report are still issues we’re talking about and dealing with – credential recognition, licensing, among others.
The issue is very much with us, in spite of government efforts such as bridge training programs, work placement/intern programs, the creation of immigrant employment councils.
All of this forms the background to ongoing immigration policy, which has, over time, shifted from a focus on family reunification to economic class immigrants. This shift has been accelerated under the current federal government. So, this year, a major theme has certainly been this question of what’s the best way to bring immigrants into Canada to ensure that our economic development continues, while we continue to successfully integrate newcomers into our communities?
The federal government ran public consultations earlier this year to review these issues:
Temporary Foreign Workers vs. Skilled Worker Class vs. PNP vs. Canadian Experience. Which is best, which will lead us to more success, and also ensure the ongoing success of our skilled immigrants and their families? Results Are in: Federal Skilled Worker Program Works “Prepared by Maytree, this short document summarizes the recent evaluation of the skilled worker program conducted by the federal government. Following the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), occupation-specific criteria were removed from the point system, and the evaluation finds that this was largely successful. Still, the federal government returned to an occupation-specific model, and the skilled worker class continues to be one of the few economic classes which does not receive priority processing.”
CIC Evaluation of the Federal Skilled Worker program: “The findings from the IMDB analysis and the client surveys demonstrate that FSWs become established economically and meet the needs of employers.”
Naomi Alboim, The Maytree Foundation released the report Adjusting the Balance: Fixing Canada’s Economic Immigration Policies. It suggested that federal policy shifts had altered the landscape for economic immigration and that these shifts represented troubling trends that were unlikely to serve Canada well in the long term. Since the report was published, the shifts identified have continued. Earlier this year, Maytree published a series of six discussion papers to provide updates and commentary on recent immigration policy developments, evaluating recent changes that relate to the recommendations presented in Adjusting the Balance.
Naomi Alboim, The Maytree Foundation released The Federal Government Should Re-assert Its Role in Immigrant Selection
There’s also been musings about creating a tech entrepreneur class – with some sort of a Startup Visa. The proposed “Startup Visa Canada Initiative would create an additional new visa program that:
8. SETTLEMENT SECTOR/CUTS to SETTLEMENT SERVICES
2011 saw funding increases for settlement programs from CIC in every province & territory except Ontario. What is the long-term impact on newcomer settlement and they cities where they settle?
In November, 2011, Minister Kenney announced Ontario settlement funding: “We believe it is only fair that settlement allocations across Canada should be based on the share of newcomers that provinces and territories have,” noted Minister Kenney. “Most provinces and territories will receive an increase in settlement funding as a result of adjustments to Ontario.”
The percentages for funding tend to be allocated by an immigrant’s expressed port of entry, which may not necessarily mean where they end up living. In this case, the numbers have certainly decreased for Ontario and, more specifically, Toronto, which has borne the brunt of funding cuts to settlement agencies. While this appears equitable on the surface, there is the ongoing issue, oft discussed, rarely quantified, of secondary migration after an immigrant lands in Canada. There is also the ongoing issue in Toronto of the racialization of poverty, which has had an inordinate impact on newer immigrant communities who tend to come from source countries made of “visible minorities.”
So, a question that occurs is what the long-term vision is for settlement funding, what happens to newcomers once they begin to settle in cities, which lack sufficient funding to adequately deal with the ongoing ebbs and flows of migration, etc. What is the actual funding formula (which includes a vague “capacity-building amount added for each jurisdiction”)?
Is a funding model and formula that merely takes into account expressed ports of entry enough? Or does it need to also look at long-term economic realities in arrival cities (such as the rise of racialized poverty in Toronto), economic realities facing newcomers there, which will impact their settlement process, and the level of supports provided to cities to ensure that the burdens of poverty and infrastructure development are adequately supported?
As newcomer settlement patterns shift and change, it makes sense that funding for immediate settlement needs also shifts. However, settlement, especially in difficult economic times, takes demonstrably longer and is more complex. Funding regimes need to match this complexity as well.
Information from government releases and backgrounders:
“Settlement funding allocations are determined by the national settlement funding formula, which is based on the number of immigrants in each province and territory, outside Quebec, (giving additional weight for refugees to account for their unique settlement needs), along with a capacity-building amount added for each jurisdiction.”
“The 2012-13 allocations mark the first time since the end of the Canada Ontario Immigration Agreement (COIA) that this formula has been fully applied to Ontario. Under COIA, which expired March 31, 2011, the level of settlement funding was pre-determined in 2005, regardless of the number of immigrants in Ontario. However, the proportion of immigrants to Ontario continues to decrease, while immigration to other provinces and territories, such as Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta, has continued to rise.”
“This formula now applies in all provinces and territories except Quebec and reflects that, when compared to the other provinces and territories, Ontario’s proportional share of new immigrants in Canada has gone from 64% in 2005 to 52% in 2010, as more newcomers have chosen to settle in Western and Atlantic Canada.”
The Maytree Foundation: Settlement Funding Cuts: Short-term Vision, Long-term Pain
9. IMMIGRATION and SETTLEMENT RESEARCH
Research on, about, for and with immigrants is critical to Canada. Good research helps shape proactive and positive policies on settlement, funding, and on bigger questions about integrating and becoming Canadian.
Funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and a consortium of agencies and departments of the federal government, primarily led by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), the Metropolis project consists of five centres that conduct, gather and share research on immigration, settlement, integration and diversity. Affiliated with local universities, the five Metropolis Centres are:
Vancouver: Metropolis BC
Edmonton: Prairie Metropolis Centre
Toronto: CERIS The Ontario Metropolis Centre
Montreal: The Quebec Metropolis Centre
Halifax/Moncton: The Atlantic Metropolis Centre
These centres are part of the international Metropolis network, focused on comparative research and public policy development on migration, diversity and immigrant integration in cities in Canada and around the world.
Together with the Metropolis Canada in Ottawa, the Metropolis Centres provide rich resources to students, practitioners, academics and researchers. Due to funding instability, by March 2013, the Ontario Metropolis Centre, CERIS, will cease operations. CERIS staff is currently investigating options for the future with community and academic stakeholders.
A cornerstone of critical immigration research is the ability to research, identify, and analyze trends over time. The Longitudinal Immigration Database is one example of a long-term useful research tool. Many respected reports and important analyses have come out of this tool, which have impacted policy, funding, community support and more.
2011 saw a big blow to longitudinal immigration research with the federal government’s ending of the mandatory long-form census. Citing prison sentences as too harsh a punishment for those who did not complete the long-form census, the federal government pulled it and replaced it with a mandatory short-form. This is now the only tool in the set of census surveys that reaches all Canadians.
The Canadian Council on Social Development, along with a number of other agencies has brought suit against the Government of Canada. Their campaign, entitled Fighting for the Equal Right to be Counted, says, “The Short form (little more than a head count) only asks 10 questions of Canadians, none of which determines one’s ethnicity and cultural heritage, Aboriginal status or disAbility. The exclusion of the important groups of Canadians is a clear breach of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Gaps in data of this measure will ensure that decision makers at every level, will not have the necessary information to serve these important groups of Canadians. Perhaps that’s the point, suggests the Canadian Council on Social Development: “is this marginalization by design”?
As the federal government conducts a consultation about open government data and Statistics Canada is soon to make all of its online data available for free, there seems to be a recognition about the importance of good data. The question will be how will this change in the census impact policy and political decisions regarding immigration.
An opportunity coming from this awareness of the importance of research and data is the vast amount of useful and practical data that community agencies have in their offices, yet lack the skills, resources and systems to more fully harness. Projects such as the Toronto Immigrant Employment Data Initiative (TIEDI) seek to bring academics and community agencies together, both to conduct original research, but also to analyze and share existing data in ways that meet the practical, day-to-day needs of agencies serving immigrants. Given academic, community and social planning council concerns about the census and realizations of the importance of good research, it’s possible that 2012 could see more developments in this area for and by agencies serving immigrants.
Is Canada Becoming More Conservative? An article illustrating the importance of longitudinal research and analysis.
10. 40th ANNIVERSARY of “OFFICIAL MULTICULTURALISM” POLICY
2011 marked 40 years of official policy of multiculturalism (within a bilingual framework) in Canada. A result of the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism, established by the Pearson government in 1963, the B & B Commission, as it came to be known, was tasked with engaging Canadians in a national discussion on the relations between the two so-called founding cultures; The French and the English. Pushback from the ethnic communities, especially in the West, who felt they weren’t recognized in the policy, lead to “official multiculturalism within a bilingual framework”.
Canada was the first country in the world to formally recognize multiculturalism as official policy. Entrenched into legislation in 1988, Canadian multiculturalism has been an ongoing debate ever since.
Of note in regard to this milestone, the The Association for Canadian Studies and the Canadian Ethnic Studies Association hosted their 2nd Joint Annual Conference in Ottawa, Ontario from Sept 30-Oct 1, 2011 and featured sessions that highlight the ongoing issues, debates and discussions around the issue of multiculturalism including: is it time to move away from multiculturalism to interculturalism or even multiversalism. These discussions are a result of the move from cultural pluralism (“acknowledges the freedom of all members of Canadian society to preserve, enhance and share their cultural heritage” (Multiculturalism Act, 1988 Section 3.1.a)) to integration (“Canada recognizes the potential of all Canadians, encouraging them to integrate into their society and take an active part in its social, cultural, economic and political affairs” (Note, CIC, 2008)).
Media covered the marking of 40 years of official multiculturalism, including a good overview piece (just as one of many examples) with a look to the future of the policy by Haroon Siddiqui, Toronto Star editor emeritus, and useful links throughout the column.
Will Kymlicka’s site. Kymlicka is the Canada Research Chair in Political Philosophy in the Philosophy Department at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. Kymlicka’s “research interests focus on issues of democracy and diversity, and in particular on models of citizenship and social justice within multicultural societies”.
Government of Canada website. “Through multiculturalism, Canada recognizes the potential of all Canadians, encouraging them to integrate into their society and take an active part in its social, cultural, economic and political affairs”. This site includes links to the legislation, policy, events and other resources.
Biographies of *Contributors
Marco Campana’s work has spanned numerous non-profit sectors, including newcomer settlement, employment, information and referral and community-based Internet projects. He currently helps Maytree staff harness the potential of web and social media in their project work.
Before joining Maytree as a Communications Strategist, Marco worked as a website content coordinator and, more recently, provided social media training and support for the settlement sector in Ontario. He has used online tools to provide information, service and connection to newcomers to Ontario, and to those who serve them. He has found that technology is valuable when it is connected and serves to enhance our daily work. Marco tweets @marcopolis and can be reached at email@example.com .
Gregory Johannson completed his B.A. at Concordia University, writing his Honours Thesis on issues involving federalism and minority accommodation measures in northern Nigeria. He lived in Egypt through 2007-2008, studying development at the American University in Cairo while serving as a coordinator with a relief group that worked with refugees living in Cairo. Inspired by their resilience in the midst of difficult circumstances, he became passionate and engaged in the field of refugee and immigration advocacy in Canada and abroad, and intends to pursue a career in refugee and immigration law. He is currently completing a Certificate in Refugee Issues at the Centre for Refugee Studies at York University. Greg tweets @GregJohannson and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Z Sonia Worotynec
Z Sonia Worotynec is the founder of immigrantchildren.ca – a site for collaboration and connection on issues related to newcomer children and their families. She is also behind sixtyseven.ca; a site that examines Canadian immigration from its history, current issues and the future. Sonia tweets on immigration @immigranttalk & @sixtysevenca.