Here’s to never forgetting home

“Here’s to the security guards who maybe had a degree in another land. Here’s to the manicurist who had to leave her family to come here, painting the nails, scrubbing the feet of strangers. Here’s to the janitors who don’t understand English yet work hard despite it all. Here’s to the fast food workers who work hard to see their family smile. Here’s to the laundry man at the Marriott who told me with the sparkle in his eyes how he was an engineer in Peru. Here’s to the bus driver, the Turkish Sufi who almost danced when I quoted Rumi. Here’s to the harvesters who live in fear of being deported for coming here to open the road for their future generation. Here’s to the taxi drivers from Nigeria, Ghana, Egypt and India who gossip amongst themselves. Here is to them waking up at 4am, calling home to hear the voices of their loved ones. Here is to their children, to the children who despite it all become artists, writers, teachers, doctors, lawyers, activists and rebels. Here’s to international money transfer. For never forgetting home. Here’s to their children who carry the heartbeats of their motherland and even in sleep, speak with pride about their fathers. Keep on.”

Ijeoma Umebinyuo, Questions for Ada

The Star: #cdnimm children face financial barriers to citizenship

Nicholas Keung, immigration reporter for the Toronto Star, reports on  recent changes to the citizenship act that allow children, 18 years and younger, to apply for citizenship apart from their parent(s). However the fee is over $500. Previous policy saw parents applying on behalf of their children at a fee closer to $100.

Andrew Griffith‘s take:

“It was likely driven by somebody thinking bureaucratically without thinking about the policy’s intent to make it easier for minors to become citizens independently.

“That’s a lot of money, particularly for this vulnerable population. The government has removed the legal barrier to citizenship for them but has now set up a new financial barrier. Theoretically, more young people could become citizens. In practice, they will find it a lot harder.”

Read the entire story here.

Discounting immigrant families: Neoliberalism & the framing of Canadian immigration policy change

As part of part of the SSHRC project, Immigration Trajectories of Immigrant Families, the Ryerson Centre for Immigration and Settlement has released the paper Discounting Immigrant Families: Neoliberalism and the Framing of Canadian Immigration Policy Change.

From the abstract:

“This paper aims to develop a conceptual framework to assist in understanding how the immigrant family is impacted by recent changes to immigration policy in Canada. We contend that neoliberalism, broadly defined, is a helpful lens through which to comprehend some of the specific policies as well as discursive outcomes which have real effects on immigrant families. Based on our findings from an in-depth literature review, our goal is to identify and summarize the recent changes to the Canadian policy environment and to develop a critical conceptual framework through which to understand policy change in relation to families and immigrants”.

The too-brief discussion of the “ideal immigrant” and the “ideal immigrant family” in the paper is provocative, or at least could be. Children, as part of an immigrant family, are social policy orphans. There is little attention devoted to immigrant children, both from the academic/research community and the federal/provincial government departments responsible for citizenship and immigration. The RCIS papers lack of depth on this issue fails to answer the first research question posed in the SSHRC project, i.e., How do all members of the family facilitate or impede the integration of immigrants? The paper briefly touches on the federal policy changes to the definition of dependent children from 22 and under to 19 and under, for children arriving under the economic class and/or family sponsorship. This is an important issue to highlight. Immigrant children, from birth to age eight, are also an important group to address. A federal policy response is warranted. Children in this age group are ripe for shaping, so to speak. It is odd that given the federal governments focus on integration, they are not developing programs, supports and services that promote acculturation. And why isn’t the academic/research community delving deeper?

Canadian Council for Refugees Youth Network seeks submissions from youth

The Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) Youth Network is developing a guide whereby newcomer youth can share their experiences and provide useful insights for youth who are just arriving in Canada.The purpose of this alternative guide is to:

Provide an introductory resource that is primarily led by youth and that is specifically directed towards a youth audience.
Create a space for newcomer youth to voice their different experiences in Canada and to facilitate the sharing of useful tips on accessing information.
Connect experiences faced by Indigenous and newcomer youth across the country.
The CCR Youth Network would like to invite youth with immigrant and refugee experiences to contribute to this guide for youth arriving in Canada, by sharing your own stories and views on:

~Adjusting to life in Canada.
~Finding out about different ways of navigating the system in Canada and in different provinces (e.g. finding a school, finding out how to move around and where/who to ask for help in different situations).
~Services, organizations, groups and/or individuals that supported you the most when you arrived to Canada and in what ways.
~Resources you found most useful to learn about how things worked and to meet new people (e.g. community resources, after-school programs, employment, financial and/or legal resources, among others).
~The things that marked your experience the most, both before and after coming to Canada.
~The advice you would like to be able to give to yourself at the time you arrived in Canada.

Criteria for submitting your experiences:
The CCR is looking for stories that speak to refugee and immigrant youth’s experiences in different formats and media and that can be useful in some way for youth who are arriving in Canada. Formats and media may include but are not limited to:
~Poems
~Short recordings/videos
~Short stories
~Illustrations
~Photographs
… and more…

The CCR also welcomes any input about useful resources: for example, you could give us a list of the top 5-10 resources that were most useful to you when you arrived in Canada.

Languages:
All stories can be submitted in English or French. If you would like to submit a story that reflects on your life experiences before and after arriving in Canada, you may also send it in your first language. If you choose to do so, please send an English or French version as well.

Stories may be published anonymously if desired. If you wish to remain anonymous please indicate this in your email and the CCR will not publish your name. Stories must respect the CCR’s anti-oppression policy.

How to submit:
Send your submission by email to yn@ccrweb.ca by May 31, 2014. Submissions sent after that deadline may still be considered.
For more information, please contact the CCR by email.
The CCR strongly encourages submissions from people of colour, gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, and queer people.

Source: Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR)
Posted: May 7, 2014 at 12:51 on SettlementAtWork.org

6th ‘On New Shores’ conference: Immigrant and ethnic minority families ~ Bridging across cultural boundaries

For the 6th time, the University of Guelph is hosting an ‘On New Shores’ conference (search immigrantchildren.ca for information about previous ONS conferences). This year’s theme is Immigrant and ethnic minority families: Bridging across cultural boundaries. The conference will be held in Toronto from October 23 – 24, 2014.

From the call for proposals:

The goal of this conference is to bring together various stakeholders (researchers, community and governmental providers) to collectively examine and discuss issues of children, youth, and families in the context of culture and immigration. Whether individuals and families are new to a country and/or belong to a visible minority group, they share many experiences and challenges.
What lessons can be shared? How can we synergize our efforts to develop more culturally sensitive and culturally appropriate research strategies or programs and services in our respective communities? Discussions of organizational stresses and the strategies used to deal with these issues will also be addressed. Researchers from various disciplines (e.g., psychology, sociology, social work, education) are welcomed. Community service providers and governmental agencies are encouraged to present work on research, effective programs, social issues, and challenges.
UPDATE: Proposal submission deadline is March 15, 2014. All proposals must be submitted to Dr. Susan S. Chuang by email (schuang@uoguelph.ca), and must be accompanied by a submission form.

Now we are six

immigrantchildren.ca turns six this month. Of course we are reminded of the wonderful A.A. Milne poem and book “Now We Are Six“:

When I was One,
I had just begun.
When I was Two,
I was nearly new.
When I was Three
I was hardly me.
When I was Four,
I was not much more.
When I was Five, I was just alive.
But now I am Six, I’m as clever as clever,
So I think I’ll be six now for ever and ever.

Top 10 Canadian immigration stories in 2012

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.

500 posts, 4 years, 3 wishes

500 Posts

Today marks the 500th post on immigrantchildren.ca and my 4th year blogging. And, as promised, a prize for our 500th post contest.

As explained in the About immigrantchildren.ca page, this blog was first set up November 3, 2007 as a volunteer contribution to the defunct Canadian Coalition for Immigrant Children and Youth (CCICY). I note that I do not now – and never have – received funds from the CCICY or another other source.

Over the 4 years that I have been blogging on immigrant children, youth, families, I have met (virtually) many individuals and learned of many organizations that support, promote and advocate for and on behalf of immigrant and refugee families and their children. Thank you (you know who you are).

When I first set up this blog, I received some criticism about the photograph in the banner. It is of British immigrant children (home children) arriving in Saint John, New Brunswick, part of the child emigration scheme from 1826-1939. The photo represents my interest in the history of immigrant children in Canada and the inspiration for my work in the area. The criticism was that immigrant children today look very different than those in the photo. Fair enough. I hope that as activists and advocates for immigrant and refugee children and families, we recognize the history of immigration policy in Canada and how it continues to impact decisions around immigration today.

Over the last four years, there have been some important milestones in immigration in Canada. Here are only a few (I acknowledge that there are broken links in some of these posts; I regret I have not had time to fix them):

2011 marked the 40th anniversary of official policy of multiculturalism in Canada. An Associated conference, sponsored by the Association for Canadian Studies and the Canadian Ethnic Studies Association was held in Ottawa this fall. We look forward to conference proceedings.

2010 was the Year of The British Home Child. As mentioned, the “littlest immigrants” as they were referred to by Kenneth Bagnell, were my inspiration as I undertook my MA in Immigration and Settlement Studies and informed the basis for my paper on international adoption, published by CERIS, the Ontario Centre of Excellence for Research in Immigration Studies.

2008 marked the 10th anniversary of the important Baker v. Canada decision which addressed the rights of four Canadian-born children to have their immigrant mother remain with them on Canadian soil, despite her foreign citizenship, illegal status, and the deportation order to return to her home country. The Court ruled that immigration officials should pay “close attention to the interests and needs of children, since children’s rights and attention to their interests are central humanitarian and compassionate values in Canadian society“.

2007 saw what will likely be the last set of comprehensive data from Statistics Canada on immigrant children specifically and home languages, thanks to the end of the long-form Census (which we took notice of and spoke against).

The issue of interculturalism as a valid alternative to multiculturalism came up in the media, in election campaigns, in coffee shops, classrooms and at kitchen tables, largely due to Bouchard-Taylor and their Commission de consultation sur les pratiques d’accommodement reliées aux différences culturelles.

The House of Commons released their report on Best Practices on Settlement Services with a few recommendations directly related to immigrant children, youth and families. We look forward to follow-up from the government of Canada in implementing these.

4 Years

Over the last four years, immigrantchildren.ca promoted film festivals that featured pieces related to immigration and diversity; we posted on multilingual children’s picture books; we announced relevant policy changes to, for example, the Ontario Early Learning Framework, and proposed extending the policy/program document to expressly address immigrant and refugee children; we criticized depictions of immigrants and cliched portrayals of Canada; we addressed controversies such as the introduction of the Burka Barbie, the so-called “honour killings” endemic in some cultures, and the Toronto District School Board‘s separate prayer room for Muslim students.

immigrantchildren.ca went all-a-twitter, joining in 2008 as @immigranttalk, greatly expanding my network of fellow tweeps, who share valuable information and insight. Here are my favourites:

Top 10 Tweeps on Immigrant and Refugee Children and Youth

Top 10 Research Tweeps

Top 10 International Tweeps

Top 10 Tweeps on Immigration, Multiculturalism, Citizenship, Diversity and Inclusion

immigrantchildren.ca was also pleased to announce numerous calls for papers for conferences as well as promote, attend and report on the series of conferences held at the University of Guelph on immigrant children, youth and families: In 2010 the theme was resilience, in 2008 the conference focused on the international aspect of migration; the theme for 2012 is happiness. We look forward to attending.

3 wishes

1. That immigrant and refugee children (birth to age eight) and their families receive the support and resources they need to succeed in Canada – with the families participating in defining what success means.

2. That the Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration, and Multiculturalism, continues to consult with Canadians and newcomers on the mandate and objectives of Canada’s immigration policy. Also that he continues to promote the positive influence of newcomers to Canada and that strikes a good balance between attracting (and employing in their field!) immigrants and fulfilling Canada’s commitment to family reunification and refugee resettlement.

3. That I continue to learn about immigration and refugee experiences, issues, innovations and find additional venues to share what I know.

Now – on to our contest: three entrants; one winner Rita H. Rita, please email me with your mailing address and one copy of Shaun Tan’s The Arrival which will be sent to you, via Canada Post. Thanks to Thomas and to Canadian Immigration Lawyer for participating.

Finally, thanks to WordPress – especially for its awesome search tool.

Back to school: Multilingual parent tip sheets from People for Education

People for Education has a series of useful parent tip sheets, in several languages, on a variety of topics related to starting school.

Topics include:

Starting school can be scary for kids and parents ~ Tips to help parents prepare their children for Kindergarten and Grade 1.

What is the role of the Ministry of Education, school boards, schools, teachers and school councils? Who does what.

Parent-teacher interviews ~ How to make the best use of time with your child’s teacher.

Homework help ~ How to support your child in their homework.

Health and physical education and activity ~ Physical, emotional and mental health as key predictors of future quality of life.

High School courses and choices ~ Making the right decisions.

Solving problems at school ~ Tips for parents and children if problems arise at school.

Special Ed ~ All about special education programs for children with challenges and/or learning disAbilities.

EQAO ~ What are the EQAO tests? How can parents help prepare their children?

Tip sheets are currently available in the following languages:

Arabic, Chinese, English, Farsi, French, Korean, Punjabi, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Tamil, Urdu.