Financial literacy program for newcomer women

The St. Joseph Immigrant Women’s Centre in Hamilton, Ontario today received over $130,000 to support a financial literacy program for immigrant women. The Centre works with refugee and immigrant women and “provides services including labour market training and support, language and driving instruction, educational funding, and health services for women and their families”.

Minister of State, Status of Women, Helena Guergis made the announcement today. From the news release:

“New Canadians play a vital role in contributing to Canada’s economy. Especially during these tough economic times, it is more important than ever that new Canadians have the opportunity and skills to contribute fully,” said Minister Guergis. “By supporting the St. Joseph’s Immigrant Women’s Centre in carrying out this important project, our Government is working to ensure that immigrant and refugee women have the tools they need to overcome poverty”.

immigrantchildren.ca hopes that child care is supported as one of the tools to lift newcomer families out of poverty – and provide children with quality early learning opportunities.

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.

Metropolis funding for projects that examine “effective partnerships” in delivery of immigrant & settlement services

Metropolis National Research Competition, an initiative of Citizenship and Immigration Canada and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), has issued a call for proposals. This year’s research question is:

From the point of view of governments and of newcomers and minorities, are government-NGO partnerships the most effective model for delivering services for integration and inclusion in Canada?

Deadline is September 30, 2009.

For details about the call, including eligibility, process, application forms and more, see this SSHRC page.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney on immigrant children

The Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism was interviewed on TVO’s The Agenda last week. Click here to see and hear the entire interview.

Did the Minister have anything to say about immigrant/newcomer children? Yes! On integration:

“We want to be deliberate about it and we want to make sure that we don’t end up with a series of parallel communities where children grow up in a community that more resembles their parents country of origin than Canada”.

An example on “basic social and linguistic integration”:

“If you’re a young guy, you’re arriving with your parents from China, you live in Richmond, you might go to a school where all the kids speak Cantonese or Mandarin as first language, that’s the language of entertainment, at home on the computer, at the movie theatre, with your peer group, I/we want to make sure that a young guy like that doesn’t end up limiting his opportunities in Canada just by retarding linguistic integration, which is after all the pathway to successful economic and social integration”.

An interesting interview, uncovering Kenney’s plans to reshape citizenship and multiculturalism. Look for an announcement soon from Minister Kenney on a Blue Ribbon panel to tackle a new citizenship test.

Diversity fund, Children’s Aid Foundation

Announced today the Children’s Aid Foundation, in partnership with RBC, has launched a Diversity Fund that will provide social service agencies with resources to support their work with a diverse population. Information will be made available on such topics as helping families dealing with Canadian winters and coping with trauma and post-traumatic stress for refugee families, as two examples. 

Read the news release.

Sick Kids Hospital receives settlement funding

The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto has received over 9 million in settlement funding to establish an “immigrant support network“. 

The network will provide translations of 45 “core patient health education” articles into languages spoken by newcomer patients and their families, including Chinese, French, Tamil, Spanish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Vietnamese and Arabic. Articles will be posted on sickkids.ca and aboutkidshealth.ca.

Federal developments

The 2nd session of Canada’s 40th Parliament opened Monday, January 26, 2009 with a Speech from the Throne

On Wednesday, January 27, 2009, the federal government released their budget. The budget includes $50 million to support the work of the Foreign Credential program.

The federal Liberal party announced new critic portfolios in their shadow cabinet including Member of Parliament for Brampton-Springdale, Ontario, Ruby Dhalla as critic for “Multiculturalism and Youth”. Maurizio Bevilacqua (MP for Vaughn, Ontario) remains critic for Citizenship and Immigration.

CIC funding announcement for Nova Scotia: Benefits children and families, says YMCA

The Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration today announced 10.3 milliion in funding to support 3,000 immigrants to Nova Scotia. “We need new Canadians and we need to help them settle comfortably in our communities” said Peter MacKay, MP for Central Nova and federal Minister of National Defense and Atlantic Canada Opportunities agency.

YMCA VP for Community Outreach and Family Services, Brenda Millar, was pleased with the funding – some of it going to the YMCA:

“Our YMCA programs help create stronger communities. We achieve this by helping immigrants settle in their new communities, as well as by educating members of our Nova Scotia communities about the issues and barriers that newcomers face in adjusting and adapting to a new language, culture, climate and community, while maintaining their own. With our special emphasis on programs for immigrant children/youth and their families, Citizenship and Immigration Canada ensures that we can promote diversity as part of building more inclusive communities”.

Latest on proposed changes to IRPA

The Standing Committee on Finance received a report from the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration entitled “Consideration of the subject matter of Part 6 of Bill C-50”.

Dated May 15th, the report recommends that the Citizenship and Immigration Committee undertake a study on the immigration system in order to address identified challenges.  The report reminds the Committee that their previous report Reclaiming Citizenship for Canadians informed Bill C-37, the ‘Lost Canadians’ bill.

The Conservative Party of Canada issued a dissenting opinion, arguing that the proposed changes to immigration legislation will in fact meet the backlog issues and that refutes much of the charges made by opponents to the proposed changes. An excerpt: 

“The current system is especially problematic, since in a few short years, all of our net labour growth will come from immigration. These systemic flaws undermine Canada’s ability to meet our immigration goals, particularly the goal of providing for Canada’s economic and family reunification needs. Urgent action is required. That is why changes to the IRPA were included in Budget 2008. Advantage Canada (2006) identified that Canada needs the most flexible workforce in the world – an issue that is critical to Canada’s future”.

Neither the dissenting opinion or the report specifically address children. Should the committee agree to undertake a study, let’s ensure that the study identifies issues and develops solutions that will work for immigrant children and their families.

SSHRC Strategic knowledge clusters – 11 new research initiatives

The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) announced funding of 2.1 Million for 11 new Strategic Knowledge Clusters last week. Funding continues for the next 7 years.

In announcing the funding, the Minister of Industry, the Honourable Jim Prentice said “Canadian scholars and researchers will continue to produce world-class results so that we, as a country, may use this knowledge to enhance the quality of life of all Canadians“.

Chad Gaffiled, President of SSHRC said “These talented researchers will help advance understanding of complex issues in our society and inform decision makers in government, business and communities across Canada”.

Of the 11 newly funded initiatives, these 3, of interest and relevance to the Early Childhood Working Group and Canadian Coalition for Immigrant Children and Youth:

Canadian Forum for Public Research on Heritage, with Luc Noppen, Université du Québec à Montréal

Canadian Refugee Research Network, with Susan McGrath, York University

Strategic Knowledge Cluster on Early Childhood Development, with Michel Bovin, Université Laval.

The three are clearly linked and we look forward to the work undertaken and especially to the linkages that must be made among them, if the knowledge clusters are to, as Gaffield says “advance understanding of complex issues” and as the Minister of Industry emphasized “to enhance the quality of life of all“.

Call for expressions of interest: Ontario region of Canadian Heritage

The Ontario Region of Canadian Heritage is calling for expressions of interest that align with the recently released guidelines for funding from the Multicultural Program.

The Multicultural Program in Ontario will focus on initiatives that promote:
– Civic participation
– Cross-cultural understanding
– Institutional change.

Projects should align with the following priorities:
– Support the economic, social and cultural integration of new Canadians and cultural communities
– Facilitate programs such as mentorship, volunteerism, leadership and civi education among at-risk cultural youth
– Promote inter-cultural understanding and Canadian values (democracy, freedom, human rights and rule of law) through community initiatives with the objective of addressing issues of cultural social exclusion.

Funding preferences will be given to projects that involve multiple partners and that:
– Focus on action and measurable results leading to sustainable and lasting changes
– Involve the broad community (community-based, neighourhood-based and/or coalitions that are inclusive)
– Include other sources of funding, including cash and in-kind contributions.

Interested parties are invited to submit a pqa1 by Fri. May 23/08 to multi-on@pch.gc.ca or to the attention of Rocky Serkowney, Program Officer, Department of Canadian Heritage, Ontario Region, 150 John St., Suite 400, Toronto ON M5V 3T6.

Need more info? In the GTA, contact Rocky Serkowney at 416.952.2651. Outside of the GTA, contact Mimi Lo at 519.645.5190.