The current state of multiculturalism in Canada and research themes on Canadian multiculturalism 2008-2010

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) commissioned Professor Will Kymlicka (Queen’s University) to synthesize the results from six regional reports and write an overview of the current state of multiculturalism and research themes on Canadian multiculturalism that would form the focus for the Multiculturalism and Human Rights Branch of the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Each regional report identified up to eight themes: a total of 48 proposed themes. Kymlicka synthesized ten research themes on Canadian multiculturalism:

1. Adapting Multiculturalism to Religious Diversity
2. Racism and Discrimination
3. Labour Market Integration
4. Immigration Beyond the Metropolis
5. Implications of Security Issues for Multiculturalism
6. The Future of Multiculturalism
7. Relating Multiculturalism to Aboriginal Peoples
8. Vulnerable Groups: Women and Youth/Second Generation
9. Patterns of Ethnic Community Formation
10. Multicultural Readiness in Service Delivery

Our interest at immigrantchildren.ca is, of course, children and families, and we are delighted to see children and families referenced in the report, including:

“The children of immigrants have better educational outcomes in Canada than in any other Western democracy. Indeed, uniquely among Western countries, second-generation immigrants in Canada actually outperform children of non-immigrant parents (OECD 2006). Moreover, this is not solely due to the higher socio-economic background of immigrants in Canada. On the contrary, immigrant children from lower socio-economic backgrounds also do better in Canada than in other countries….

“At the institutional level, we also have new evidence of the role that multiculturalism plays in creating more inclusive and equitable public institutions. For example, the massive OECD study that established Canada’s comparative advantage in educating immigrant students emphasized that a crucial factor in this success was the presence of specific policies to address issues of cultural and linguistic diversity in the school population – policies that, in the Canadian context, have emerged under the rubric of multiculturalism (OECD 2006). These diversity policies help to explain why the children of immigrants do better in Canada, even when one takes into account the skills, education and income of their parents….

“Some commentators have pointed to the persistence of illiberal practices among some immigrant and minority groups as evidence that they are failing to integrate into Canada’s liberal-democratic norms. This issue emerged, for example, in discussions of Aqsa Parvez’s case – the December 2007 “honour killing” of a Muslim girl by her father for not wearing the hijab. But here again, we need to get beyond isolated cases to look at the general trends. Cases of honour killings, coerced marriages or female genital mutilation can be found in every Western democracy, whether or not it has multiculturalism policies. There is no evidence that this problem is worse in multiculturalist countries (i.e., countries that do have formal multiculturalism policies and laws in place) like Canada than in non-multiculturalist countries like France or Germany….

“In any event, the occurrence of such cases should not be taken as evidence of any general trend toward the rejection of liberal-democratic values. On the contrary, a recent study shows that immigrants in Canada, regardless of their religious affiliation, converge toward the Canadian norm on what the authors call “Charter values,” including the rights of gays and women (Soroka, Johnston and Banting 2007). Indeed, as I noted earlier, what immigrants are most proud of in Canada is its democratic norms (Adams 2007). There is simply no evidence that immigrants and their children in Canada are not internalizing liberal-democratic values. The question of how best to prevent and prosecute such crimes is a very important one, but we will go badly off course if we misinterpret these individual acts as evidence of a general failure of political integration among entire ethnic groups….

“Vulnerable groups: Women and youth/second generation. As I noted earlier, several of the regional reports suggested replacing the broad research theme of “social inclusion” with more focused themes that examine specific patterns of exclusion. Two groups in particular were seen as vulnerable to exclusion – women and youth/second generation – and several reports recommended devoting research themes to them.

“Here again, a number of more specific research questions were raised. In relation to youth and the second generation, these included research on (a) whether the declining economic attainment of newer immigrants is being passed down to their children (i.e.,whether the second generation is exhibiting declines in education, employment and income); (b) whether the risks of social exclusion are leading to lower feelings of belonging and identification with Canada; and (c) whether more specific programs are needed to help youth at risk”.

The full report is here.

Paul Gorski’s 10 commitments to multicultural education

Well-known multicultural educator Paul Gorski has written a guest post on the blog of the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences. Here’s a snapshot of Gorski’s ten commitments each multicultural educator must make:

1. Commit to working at the intersections ~ consider how multiple identities and oppressions intersect
2. Understand the sociopolitics of schooling ~ consider your work in the context of neo-liberalism, corporatization, consumer and pop culture, among others
3. Refuse the masters’ paradigms ~ resist the urge to refer to children and families as “at risk”, for example, and refuse the temptation to ‘sell’ multiculturalism as a way to compete in a global market
4. Transcend the 4 D’s: Dress, dance, diet and dialet and push multiculturalism beyond celebrations that, while having a place, can serve to perpetuate stereotypes rather than challenge them
5. Don’t equate (or promote) multiculturalism with universal validation ~any multicultural ‘space’ cannot be both multicultural and hegemonic
6. Resist simple solutions to complex issues ~ challenge the status quo, even of multicultural theories and approaches
7. Be informed ~ do your work, check research to ensure it includes a community context and reflects actual voices
8. Work with and in service to the disenfranchised ~ apply multicultural principles to the work and to the process of the work
9. Reject deficit ideology ~  examine power hierarchies from the ground up and do not look down at those disenfranchised by power inequities
10. Pursue justice, not peace ~ do not assume that parties occupy similar space on the privilege-oppression continuum

See the full blog posting here.

Interculturalism is the new multiculturalism

Here’s one of my tweets made during the first (and only) English language debate between the four main party leaders on April 12, 2011:

ZS Worotynec @immigranttalk ZS Worotynec
Harper doesn’t understand difference between #multiculturalism and Quebec’s #interculturalism & Duceppe not good at explaining #exln41 #db8
12 Apr via web Favorite Reply Delete

Which is odd: Harper’s own Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister, The Honourable Jason Kenney, has been advocating for interculturalism over multiculturalism his entire time in the portfolio, I think.

In any case, it got me thinking: Do I know enough about the difference between interculturalism and multiculturaism? So, I looked for and found some useful resources.

immigrantchildren.ca visitors may already know about an upcoming conference exploring this issue: The International Symposium on Interculturalism/Symposium international sur l’interculturalisme ~ Dialogue Québéc Europe will be held May 25-27 in  Québéc. A description of the symposium:

Under the aegis of Gérard Bouchard, Professor at the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi and with the support of an array of Québec organizations, and the special contribution from experts of the Council of Europe, this Symposium will be an important forum for participants from Québec and Europe. The main purpose will be to report progress on interculturalism as a model for integration, and specifically for managing ethno-cultural diversity in democratic societies. The interculturalist model already has a long history in Québec, and it attracts growing interest in Europe. Thus, the Symposium will be a dialogue between Québec and Europe on the situation and future of interculturalism.

On the conference website, you’ll find the following – all PDFs:

  1. Bouchard, Gérard & Charles Taylor (2008). Building the Future. A Time for Reconciliation. Report. Commission de consultation sur les pratiques d’accommodement reliées aux différences culturelles.
  2. Council Of Europe (2008). White Paper on Intercultural Dialogue. “Living together as equals in dignity”.
  3. Council Of Europe & European Commission (2010). Intercultural cities – Towards a model for intercultural integration.

The steering paper, which provides rationale for the symposium discusses the term “interculturalism” and introduces a new term “integrationism” to avoid having integration (good) associated with assimilation (bad). Fascinating stuff! If anyone goes, please share thoughts, etc.

“In accordance with North American tradition, the concept of integration is used to refer to those mechanisms and processes (of articulation or insertion) through which social bonds are created, including their symbolic and functional foundations. Such mechanisms and processes are of concern to all citizens (whether new or old), and they operate at various levels (individual, community, institutional and State) and on many dimensions (economic, social, cultural, etc.). In terms of culture, it should be noted that the concept of integration, thus defined, is exempt from any assimilationist overtone. In order to avoid confusion, the term integrationism will be used here, when referring to those forms of integration that are not respectful of diversity”.

CU Expo 2011: Sessions on immigration, settlement and multiculturalism

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CUExpo is a conference about how community and university partnerships collaborate together to develop innovative solutions to strengthen communities.

CUExpo2011 will be held May 10-14, 2011 in Waterloo, Ontario Canada. It is expected to draw about 600 people from Canada and around the world who are passionate about the power of community-university partnerships as a vehicle for social change. Students, community leaders, researchers, educators, funders, policy makers and others invested in community-building will be in attendance.

The CU Expo movement began in Canada as a response to individuals involved in community-university partnerships needing a forum to share experiences, strategies and ideas. CUExpo2011 includes several sessions related to immigration, settlement, diversity, multiculturalism and integration (all links open as PDFs):

Wed May 11th ~ Community Voice and Relevance

It takes a village: Training community health workers in the Burundian refugee population using a community-based participatory service learning model.

Training immigrant peer researchers for CBPR on HIV/AIDS in Germany.

Tuberculosis amongst immigrants and refugees at an adult education centre: A community-based participatory research approach.

CBR within an immigrant community.

Cross-cultural lessons of engaging immigrant and refugee families in research and evaluation.

Growing community through urban agriculture: A community-university project involving senior immigrants.

Immigrant cultural values and language barriers as communication class lessons.

Settling, working, and belonging: An innovative and collaborative approach to integrating newcomers.

Churches responding to the immigrant reality in Canada: A national participatory action research project.

Thurs May 12th ~ Partnerships & Collaboration

Building multi-cultural and multi-health system partnership to conduct health research.

Recruiting low-income families into community programmes: Exploring differences in engagement strategies among ethnic groups.

Fri May 13th ~ Action and Change

Immigrant peer researchers and HIV prevention in Germany: The PaKoMi video.

Register now!

Mothercraft’s course for settlement workers: Caring for Canada’s Children, Year 2

Mothercraft, with funding from Citizenship and Immigration Canada, will  offer a 2nd year of their ‘Caring for Canada’s Children’ webinar/in-class course for practitioners working with newcomer children and families. The series builds on year one and will “delve further into the issues that many newcomer families face through the immigration process. This examination will be done through presentations, case studies and practical interactive learning opportunities” (Source: Email blast to former participants).

Archived presentations from Year 1 are available here in English and also here in French.

Year 2 offerings:

  1. Building cross-cultural competence (Sept 22, 2010)
  2. Building trusting relationships with families: Towards a motivational understanding of change (Oct 13, 2010)
  3. Promoting children’s mental health (Nov 10, 2010)
  4. Understanding attachment: How early relationships influence the brain’s architecture (Dec 8, 2010)
  5. Building circles of support through service coordination (Jan 19, 2011)
  6. Developing relationships with child welfare services (Feb 16, 2011).

For more information, including how to register, visit the Mothercraft Caring for Canada’s Children website.

Naseeha: The Muslim kids help line

Today’s Globe and Mail (G&M) reports on a story about a young Christian woman who converted to Islam as a teen, without her parent’s knowledge. She empathizes with Aqsa Parvez and other teens who are not in step with their parents beliefs. She wishes she had someone to talk to when she was navigating/negotiating her beliefs with her parents.

The story tells us that such help is available: a help line, called Naseeha, or “advice” in Arabic has been in existence since 2005 and operates out of Mississauga. Ostensibly, like the Kids Help Phone line (est. 1989) the advice line provides advice and support, but specifically support to Muslim youth who are, according to the story experiencing “the pull between two worlds”. The now 27-year Muslim convert says the murder of Aqsa Parvez and other so-called “honour killings” are not Muslim issues, but cultural issues and that phone lines like Naseeha respond to the specific issues experienced by newcomer children and youth.

If you surf over to Kids Help Phone, you can see that among the FAQ kids pose are questions related to discrimination, prejudice, diversity and inclusion. The G&M says that Tarek Fatah, a frequent critic of Fundamentalist Muslim practices in Canada, calls the advice line “anti-Western” and believes advice provided would be critical of Canadian ways.

In response, the co-founder of Naseeha defends the need for a separate advice line: ‘You have a Mercedes, you take it to a Mercedes mechanic’. Further: “We lead them to the facts in the Koran, and to what they want to do. We don’t decide on someone’s behalf”.

What do you think? Do immigrant/refugee children and youth need a separate advice help line?

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 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.

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.