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.

Welcoming newcomers to Canada: How to, by Metropolis Canada

Metropolis Canada held a national forum in January asking presenters to answer the question “How could communities be more welcoming” to immigrants. Several presentations are now available on their website.

Interesting note: One of the presentations by CIC defines “integration” as “the ability to contribute, free of barriers, to every dimension of Canadian life – economic, social, cultural and political”. (Source: Metropolis Canada Welcoming Communities presentation by CIC staff member Deborah Tunis).

On new shores conference update

NB: UPDATE Jan 19th: The call for proposals has been extended to March 10th.

Following on the call for papers for the 4th annual On New Shores conference, co-organizer Dr. Susan Chuang has today announced additions to the conference. First, the conference will be dedicated to Dr. Tom Luster of Michigan State University, who passed away last year. Dr. Luster was an advocate for immigrant children and families and had attended two of the 4 On New Shores conferences.

Dr. Chuang has also arranged for all conference delegates to attend a traditional ten-course Chinese dinner as part of the conference, including transportation. A great opportunity to meet and network!

Reminder: Deadline for the call for papers is February 15th. For more info, contact Dr. Chuang at schuang@uoguelph.ca and see the related post: Call for papers: On New Shores.

The year in review: Highlights from immigrantchildren.ca, 2009

January 2009

Pier 21, Canada’s Immigration Museum, received a cash infusion of $15 million from the Federal government to make the museum a national one.

The federal government budget included $50 million to support the work of the Foreign Credential program.

The federal Liberal party appointed MP for Brampton-Springdale, Ontario, Ruby Dhalla as critic for “Multiculturalism and Youth”. Maurizio Bevilacqua (MP for Vaughn, Ontario) remained critic for Citizenship and Immigration.

Safe Kids Canada launched an Ethno-Cultural Program, including multi-language injury prevention resources.

The Fraser Institute supported the federal government’s intention to reign in so-called ‘citizens of convenience’: “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.”

The Ontario Metropolis Centre/the Joint Centre of Excellence for Research in Immigration Studies (CERIS)  releases a literature review on barriers to integration and settlement for live-in caregivers.

National Post columnist George Jonas questions the Canadian “multiculturalism fallacy”, says promoting diversity (vs. tolerating it) creates “outsiders”, which is, in Jonas’ view, particularly harmful for children of immigrants: “.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”.

February 2009

The Annual Report to Parliament on the Operation of the Canadian Multiculturalism Act 2007-2008 is tabled. The report acknowledges the “important development in Government policy, when the Prime Minister decided to link Multiculturalism policy and programs with those at Citizenship and Immigration Canada”.

The Canadian Council on Refugees (CCR) releases their Annual Status Report on Refugee and Immigrant Rights in Canada, 2008.

March 2009

Dr. Susan Chuang, University of Guelph,  released a discussion paper, entitled Immigrant Serving Agencies’ Perspective on the Issues and Needs of Immigrant and Refugee Children in Canada.

Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister, The Honourable Jason Kenney addressed delegates at the Calgary Metropolis conference and startles delegates with what was widely perceived as the notion that prospective immigrants must have a “working knowledge of either English of French” in order to come to Canada.

TVO airs the documentary, My New Home as part of its series, Belong or Bust: Where Do I Fit In?. The series explored a variety of viewpoints on the themes of culture and identity and our place in society.

TVO and HIPPY (Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters) announce a partnership in literacy programming for newcomer children.

Rudyard Griffiths (Dominion Institute and author of “Who We Are: A Citizen’s Manifesto“) champions language as the key to successful integration and suggests that “The federal government should also put special emphasis on second-language training for school-age children”.

Welcome BC held a Learning Forum and Consultation on the Settlement Needs of Immigrant/Refugee Children 0-6 years of age and Their Families.

April 2009

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

mylanguage.ca continued to promote the importance of newcomer children retaining their ‘home language’ by providing resources in multiple languages on their website.

An amendment to the Citizenship Act came into force with changes on the ‘first generation limitation’ impacting children.

May 2009

The Globe and Mail and the Dominion Institute launch a Public Policy Wiki as a vehicle to bring forward to government a range of views from the general public on matters of public policy. Among the topics is a section on immigration policy.

Settlement Arts, a Toronto-based organization established to raise awareness and increase education on immigration and settlement issues presents their first exhibit on transnational families entitled ‘Waiting for My Children’.

The Children’s Aid Foundation partnered with RBC to launch a Diversity Fund to support social service agencies abilities to work with a diverse population.

The Senate releases an investigative report, Early Childhood Education and Care: Next Steps, acknowledging the importance of high quality early learning and care for newcomer families and young children.

Maclean’s magazine featured an interview with Minister Jason Kenney where he expanded on the language and integration position.

June 2009

The Edmonton Public School system plans to pilot a program to assist immigrant children with integrating into school.

Status of Women Canada funds the Canadian Council of Muslim Women to develop a program to assist the integration and inclusion of young Muslim women and girls.

The House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration (CIMM) releases a study on Migrant Workers and Ghost Consultants. The paper is the result of the investigation undertaken by the Committee on the Live-in Caregiver Program, and is a follow-up to the May 2009 report, Temporary Foreign Workers and Non-status Workers*.

Minister Jason Kenney was interviewed on TVO’s The Agenda and spoke about the importance of English/French for newcomer children.

July 2009

The Maytree Foundation, during an online webinar on ‘Adjusting the Balance: Fixing Canada’s Economic Immigration Policies’ coins the phrase “family unification” v. “family reunification“.

Children, registered to attend a summer camp in Ontario, were turned away from the border due to new regulations requiring visas for Mexicans.

The Institute for Canadian Citizenship partners with Toronto-area cultural institutions, like galleries and museums, in offering new citizens – and their children – passess to local cultural attractions.

Both Ottawa and Calgary launch settlement programs directly for newcomer children.

September 2009

The Canadian Mothercraft College offers an online (or in-person) course for settlement workers who work with young immigrant children and their families, funded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

October 2009

The Liberal Party of Canada released their Pink Book, Volume III: An Action Plan for Canadian Women. The report does not address immigration issues, specifically the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) program that brings women to Canada as nannies to provide child care for Canadian women (often leaving behind their own children in the process).

November 2009

immigrantchildren.ca celebrates its 2nd birthday.

The Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies at the University of Toronto presented a lecture on child trafficking.

Britain apologizes to its ‘home children’; Canada refuses to do the same for its ‘home children’, although declared that 2010 will be The Year of The Home Child.

Minister Jason Kenney released an updated guide to Canadian Citizenship. Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada has funded the organization CMAS (Childminding Monitoring Advisory Support) to conduct a national consultation towards the development of a new child care model for newcomer families.

Auditor-General Sheila Fraser raised serious questions around Canada’s immigration policies and system.

December 2009

The ‘Burka Barbie’ is scrutinized by Barbara Kay in the National Post and Mark Steyn in Maclean’s.

The federal Ministry of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism invited comments from the public on the newly introduced changes to the live-in caregiver program.

First anniversary for immigrantchildren.ca

November 3, 2008 marks the first anniversary of immigrantchildren.ca. It has been a pleasure to find and share information related to immigrant children (birth to age eight) and their families with readers of this blog.

The 200th post went up in early October! The Election Fall ’08 page, with its near-daily updates on immigration issues raised during the recent federal election campaign, received many new visitors.

Suggestions, criticisms and comments are always welcome.

CBC wants to talk to immigrant children

A journalist from the CBCs Radio Canada International has asked immigrantchildren.ca to assist her with a story. She has identified that stories about immigrant children are often told by their parents, immigrant serving organizations, teachers and other adults. She wants to talk to immigrant children themselves to hear their perspectives and opinions for a story she is working on. Bravo!

If you can help Paloma Martinez connect with immigrant children for her story, please email her at paloma.martinez@radio-canada.ca  or if you’re in Montreal, by phone at 514.597.7515 as soon as possible and no later than the end of this week.

Let’s help ensure immigrant children’s voices are heard in stories about them!

2nd language learning

The last of the Minerva Lecture Series, sponsored by the Canadian Council on Learning, was delivered to a New Brunswick audience last week by Dr. Esther Geva, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) and language and literacy researcher. Second language learning is a current topic in NB. The Telegraph Journal:

“According to recent census figures, New Brunswick is currently attracting relatively few immigrants, making retention a key issue with the impending boom. Encouragement to stay can come from the grass roots, by providing adequate education opportunities for immigrant children whose first language is not English, allowing them to succeed on their own here”.

Geva emphasized an important aspect of second language learning: “Learning to read in multiple languages does not hinder achievement, but rather enhances one’s ability to learn”.

For more on the importance of language and literacy for immigrant children, see mylanguage.ca.

CCICY monthly newsletter seeks ‘soap-box’ submissions

The Canadian Coalition for Immigrant Children and Youth (CCICY) puts out a monthly newsletter. The newsletter now has a regular ‘soap-box’ feature. Members of the CCICY are invited to submit opinion pieces on topics related to immigrant children and youth. Submissions should be 300 words or less and may address policy, legislation, programming, services, issues and trends or local or regional news.

Submission may be edited for length and content and are subject to approval of the newsletter editor and Co-Chair of the CCICY. Deadlines are the first Friday of every month. Contact the newsletter editor for more information at: ccicybulletin@gmail.com.

OECD Thematic review of migrant education – an update

As posted Jan 22 on this blog, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development – the OECD – is undertaking a thematic review of migrant education.

The question being asked is ‘What policies will promote successful education outcomes for first and second generation migrants’? 

The objectives and outputs are based on criteria for the assessment of the successful integration into the education system, including pre-school education, which is threefold:

1. Access: Do immigrant students/children have the same opportunities to access quality education as their native-born peers?

2. Participation: Do immigrant students/children participate (enrol and complete) as much as their native-born peers?

3. Learning outcomes: Do immigrant students/children perform as well as their native-born peers?

An interesting project. Here’s the site.