“Coming to Canada: The price that children pay”

Promised Land is a series of radio programs profiling “escape” stories of families who came to Canada in search of a better life. Produced by Natasha Fatah, the series includes stories of escapes from Argentina, Checkoslovakia, Eritrea, Honduras, Iran, Uganda, USA, and Vietnam.

In an op-ed on the CBC News website “Coming to Canada: The price that children pay”, Fatah reflects on the issues that immigrant and refugee children face:

“Some children who escape even to a country as seemingly embracing as Canada, are left deeply disturbed from the experience of having to uproot their lives and by the impact on their families”. (Source: CBC News website).

CBC Radio One runs the Promised Land series Mondays, 7:30pm, EDT and Fridays, 9:30am, EDT. You can also watch the series or download podcasts of it at the program website. A worthwhile series overall and immigrantchildren.ca is pleased to see children and youth issues highlighted by Fatah today.

Call for proposals: CIC & Multiculturalism

Inter-Action is the new Multiculturalism Grants program, administered by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC).

From the latest funding call:

“The Program supports CIC’s mandate and the Canadian Multiculturalism Act by assisting the socio-economic integration of individuals and communities and their contributions to building an integrated and socially cohesive society”.

“Priority areas under consideration for this call are: Youth, including youth at risk; Faith communities and organizations; Immigrants. Themes focus on: Citizenship rights and responsibilities; Facilitating positive interaction among different cultural, ethnic and religious communities in Canada”.

For more information, including application forms and details on applying, see the CIC site and the Settlement At Work site.

Deadline for applications is Oct 15, 2010.

Conference call: Migration to integration: An Opportunity agenda for cities

First International Cities of Migration Conference, The Hague (Netherlands), October 3 – 4, 2010. Program to include:

Networking reception and dinner hosted by the Municipality of The Hague
Opening keynote speaker: At home in the city
Plenary speaker: Why cities matter
International city leaders panel: Strategies for city success
Marketplace of good Ideas: Integration in practice
Debate: Migration and the media: friend or foe?
Integration town hall: Understanding the opportunity agenda
Closing keynote: The City of tomorrow

Cities of Migration is led by the Maytree Foundation in Canada, with international partners in Germany (Bertelsmann Stiftung), the United Kingdom (Barrow Cadbury Trust), New Zealand (Tindall Foundation) and Spain (Fundacion Bertelsmann).

Detailed program (to date). For more information, visit the conference website and/or contact citiesofmigration2010@maytree.com.

Conference call: Migration and the global city, Toronto

It looks like Ryerson University is working to launch a research institute devoted to immigration and settlement issues. Good luck to them. As part of this initiative, they are calling for proposals for a conference entitled “Migration and the Global City”. The conference, a launch to the proposed research centre, tentatively called the Ryerson Institute on Immigration and Settlement (RISS), will be held on the Ryerson campus from October 29-31, 2010.

A call for papers has been released here. Of particular interest to immigrantchildren.ca, conference themes include; Children and Youth; Citizenship, Migration and Identity; Precarious and Temporary Status; and Settlement Services.

The conference will feature a range of activities, including day-trips to local immigrant/settlement locations, a film-documentary screening and art-show, and a possible “CIHR-funded pre-conference on immigrant and refugee children and youth” (Source: Ryerson website). Ryerson – do let us know at immigrantchildren.ca how we can support this important inclusion!

Deadline for abstract submission is June 15, 2010.

FRP Perspectives in Family Support (Spring 2010) special issue on immigrant families

The Canadian Association of Family Resource Centres (FRP Canada) has released a special edition of their journal, Perspectives in Family Support with a focus on immigrant families:

In “The Participation of Immigrant Families in the Activities of Family Resource Programs”, Marie Rhéaume reports on a research study conducted in Québéc that examined the issues and “distances” between immigrant mothers and Québécois mothers and found that, overall, family resource centres because of the “values that underlie the work of these community-based organizations, particularly the climate of respect, help build bridges between the two groups”. For more on the study, see here.

In “Taking an Advocacy With Approach”, as opposed to an advocacy for approach, Lianne Fisher argues for the importance of self-reflection of family resource practitioners who work with newcomers to recognize and resolve possible stigmatizing and marginalizing that may occur when practitioners seek to help newcomers.

An excerpt of “Phase 2 of FRP Canada’s Welcome Here Project: A Summary Report of Lessons Learned”, also available on the FRP Canada website welcomehere.ca.

The issue of cultural adaptation and/or interpretation v. simple translation is covered by Betsy Mann in “Reflecting on Issues of Translation and Interpretation”.

Researcher Dr. Judith K. Bernhard writes on “What are the Essential Elements of Valid Research? The Problem of ‘Data’ and their Collection in Cross-Cultural Contexts” from a personal viewpoint as both an immigrant to Canada and now a practicing academic in immigrant-family related studies.

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).

Toronto’s Hot Docs festival offerings on multiculturalism, integration, equity, racism & child rights

Among the showings at Toronto’s annual Hot Docs film festival, running from April 29-May 9, 2010 are:

In the Name of the Family ~ about Aqsa Parvez and her so-called honour killing

Listen to This ~ Pianist Thompson Egbo-Egbo starts a music program at his former school in Toronto’s Jane-Finch community

Babies ~ just babies in settings around the world (also see film website)

Grace, Milly, Lucy … Child Soldiers ~ the lives of Ugandan child soldiers

The Day I Will Never Forget ~ about female genital mutilation in Kenya

Made in India ~ about tourist surrogacy and the reproductive industry in developing countries.

Newcomer Children Information Exchange – new website

The Affiliation of Multicultural Societies and Services Agencies of BC (AMSSA) has launched a new website to provide information related to newcomer children. The site Newcomer Children Information Exchange includes information, resources and other items of interest in several areas:

  • Early Childhood Education
  • English as a Second Language
  • Family Dynamics
  • Health and Wellness
  • Multiculturalism and Identity
  • Adaptation and Integration
  • Schooling
  • Socio-Economics

immigrantchildren.ca welcomes this new presence in cyberspace that addresses the specific and unique needs of immigrant, refugee – all newcomer – children.

The site also features:
• A searchable database of useful research reports, educational materials, and web links
• Theme pages that provide a general overview of key issues affecting newcomer children
• The eventual home (and archive) of the ANCIE e-newsletter.

Listening to families: Responding to (newcomer) families

Sponsored by the Canadian Association of Family Resource Programs and the Family Support Institute of Ontario and funded by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, a trio of Ryerson University researchers have developed a book and DVD based on research they conducted with families across Canada. The results provide early childhood practitioners with best practices in working with newcomer families, families living in poverty and families with children with special needs.

For more information on the Listening to Families: Reframing Services project, visit the Ryerson University research update page.

Metropolis conference: Immigration and diversity. Crossroads of culture, engine of economic development

The 12th annual Metropolis conference will be held March 18-20, 2010 in Montreal. The theme this year is Immigration and Diversity: Crossroads of Culture, Engine of Economic Development. immigrantchildren.ca is pleased to see so many workshops and roundtables addressing issues related to newcomer families and young children, including:

Transnational Families: Where race, culture and adoption intersect, by Susan Crawford, lead for the Halton Multicultural Council project “Transracial Parenting Initiative”. From the abstract: “This workshop presents research on transracial and transnational families created through adoption across Canada. Presentations examine cultural enrichment through adoption, gaps in delivering pre- and post-adoption services and the needsof transracial familites; and adult adoptees’ complex experiences and understandings of ethno-racial identity”.

Conflict and Violence in Immigrant Families, by Madine VanderPlaat, St. Mary’s University. From the abstract: “This workshop will examine issues related to gender, conflict and violence within immigrant families. Participants will discuss the factors that contribute to stressors as well as the challenges and opportunities for culturally competent social responses”.

Health and Access to it for Migrants after Birth, by Anita Gagnon, Denise Bradshaw, Marlo Turner-Ritchie. From the abstract: “Tri-city (Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal) data on the health and service needs of refugee, asylum-seeking, non-refugee immigrant and Canadian-born women and their infants during pregnancy, at birth and during the first four months after birth will be presented in conjunction with potential policy responses to these date”.

School, Community and Collaborative Practice: Fostering the Integration of Immigrant and Refguee Youth in the Canadian School Context, by Sophie Yohani, N. Ernest Khalema. From the abstract: “Creating welcoming communities in educational settings is vital for newcomer students who may have a history that hinders adaptation. This workshop brings together academic researchers, non-profit practitioners, a government program officer, and a graduate student who share expertise in community-based collaborative practice to address the adaptation of refugee and immigrant students in the Canadian school context”.

Taking Care into Consideration: Local and Transnational Implications for Families, Children and Youth, by Alexandra Dobrowolsky and Evangelia Tastsoglou. From the abstract: “Familial networks, local and transnational, are critical to immigrants’ decision-making processes. The accommodation of care concerns (care of children, elderly parents, etc). also becomes a key consideration for migrants, especially for women. This workshop explores the repercussions of familial networks, and the complex negotiation of care concerns vis-a-vis attraction and retention”.

For more details on the above, see the conference program page.

Integrating immigrant children: What are the indicators?

I’m reading Immigration and integration in Canada in the twenty-first century, a McGill-Queen’s University and Metropolis publication edited by John Biles, Meyer Burstein and James Frideres (2008).

In the chapter Creating an Inclusive Society, author Frideres talks about the need for accurate tools and indicators to measure immigrant integration. In reviewing a list he has developed, I note that immigrant children are invisible.

Frideres lists 3 categories: structural, community and individual. I’ll list a few of his indicators in each category and, underneath each section, suggest a few in the same category that might be applicable to children. (NB “children” on this site means those from birth to age eight). Please jump on in and help me build a comprehensive list!

STRUCTURAL

  • Quality of services immigrants receive (e.g., health care, education)
  • Role of media in portraying immigrants and migration
  • Use of social security, welfare and other social policy instruments
  • Systemic integration
  • Policies and programs that support fledgling immigrant communities and/or respond to their distinct needs and experiences (e.g., language programs)
  • Program evaluation (e.g., host programs).

Structural indicators for immigrant children: Quality of services fits for children too, I’d want to include, along with health care, early education, child care, recreation and community programs. And since children live in families, family support programs and services would also be specified, e.g., language instruction programs for parents with parallel programs for children: for the youngest, quality child care but for children 4 and up, programming can and should include language and settlement. These all fit in the indicator  “Policies and programs that support fledgling immigrant communities and/or respond to their distinct needs and experiences”. Immigrant and refugee children have very distinct needs and experiences apart from their parents and other adult family members. Early learning, child care, family resource and support programs can be evaluated with regard to their responsiveness to newcomer children and families.

COMMUNITY

  • Civic participation, including:
  • knowledge about civic processes
  • host community responsibility for promoting citizenship
  • host community providing opportunities for immigrants
  • Social climate of host community with regard to immigrants
  • Degree of coordination of federal policies and programs
  • Extent of partnership programs among various stakeholders.

Community integration for immigrant children: Just as immigrant children need to be understood in the context of their families, newcomer families must be understood in the context of their communities. Many of the above indicators would, again, fit for children, so degree of coordination of federal policies and programs (e.g., LINC programs and childminding programs), partnerships among various stakeholders (e.g., settlement workers in schools and library settlement partnerships). The indicator “social climate of host community” is important here. Are newcomer children welcomed in the neighbourhood park, local community centre, etc.? As for “civic engagement”, school-age children are capable of grasping some basics in this area and participate in community activities that can be framed as civic engagement, i.e., Girl Guides, 4H clubs, etc.

INDIVIDUAL

  • Number of associations in which the individual is involved (all types):
  • intensity of involvement
  • duration of involvement
  • Immigrant understanding of Canadian institutional structure
  • Host/immigrant community members feeling of security and belonging
  • Individual levels of prejudice/discrimination
  • Knowledge (formal and informal) of one of the official languages
  • Public (both immigrant and native-born) attitudes – general and specific
  • Number of contacts.

Individual integration of immigrant children: The above indicators clearly apply to adult integration but we can, for example, modify “understanding of Canadian institutional structure” to ability to navigate the school-yard, to understand expectations of the child’s new school setting, etc. Knowledge – and use – of an official language is also a fit for children.

Can you suggest other indicators that reflect how (well) immigrant children integrate?