Archive for the ‘Ontario’ Category

Immigrant parent-child separation, York University study call for participants

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

York University’s Infant and Child Mental Health Lab, in collaboration with Aisling Discoveries Child and Family Centre are conducting a study to better understand the needs and issues related to parent-child separation.

The study is inviting GTA African, Caribbean, Chinese and South Asian mothers and children to participate in a home visiting program. Parents and children must have experienced a separation of at least one year and are now reunited.

For more information, contact Natasha Whitfield at nwhit@yorku.ca, or at 416-736-2100, ext. 33406.

Immigrant family separation study recruitment flyer

The Drummond Commission recommendations on immigration (and the missed opportunities to address immigrant children/families)

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

There has been much examination and discussion of the recommendations of the recently released Drummond Commission on the Reform of Ontario’s Public Services (struck by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and Finance Minister Dwight Duncan). immigrantchildren.ca notes that the Commission has lost the opportunity to highlight and promote the importance of addressing both the needs of immigrant families with young children – and the contribution that immigrant parents can make to the Ontario economy if these needs are supported.

In the introduction, “The Economic Importance of Immigration”, the Drummond report says:

“By attracting skilled workers from abroad, Ontario can better address potential labour-market shortages. Maintaining labour-force growth, aided by successful immigrants, can help sustain Ontario’s long-term economic growth”.

immigrantchildren.ca believes that immigrant parents may be able to contribute economically by participating in the labour force, but only if they are secure in their child care arrangements. Current federal initiatives for child care are almost absent. There is an opportunity for the federal government to partner with the provinces to ensure that culturally appropriate child care is made available to newcomers.

This introduction ends with the bold statement: “In short, future trends in immigration and the degree to which Ontario can successfully integrate new arrivals into the province’s labour market and social fabric will have a significant effect on Ontario’s fiscal fortunes”. The Drummond report makes a case for ensuring that social supports are in place for immigrants in order for them to contribute to the economy through labour force participation. Child care is one such social support. We wonder how it was overlooked.

In the Commission’s section on immigration, seven recommendations are made. With respect to each of the recommendations, immigrantchildren.ca has some initial thoughts. We invite more discussion, debate and comment. (Drummond report recommendations in bold, with comments in italics following).

Recommendation 10-1: Develop a position on immigration policies that is in the province’s best economic and social interests. Present this position to the federal government with the expectation that, as the largest recipient of immigrants in Canada, Ontario’s interest will be given considerable weight in federal policy development.

What is in the best interest is the development of fully funded culturally appropriate child care system that will support immigrant parents’ participation in the labour force. The federal government should, alongside, develop federal policy on child care for newcomer families that meets the needs not only of the national economy, but the social benefits of immigrant parents participation in the workforce if there is acceptable child care available, affordable and accessible to newcomers.

Recommendation 10-2: Catalyze national discussions on immigration policy as the successful integration of immigrants is critical for Canada’s and Ontario’s economic futures.

Few programs support integration better than community-based early learning and child care programs. Situated in public schools (as proposed in the full day kindergarten program of the McGuinty government), culturally appropriate child care for newcomer children – indeed, for all children – is a key catalyst to promotion of Canadian values and an optimal welcoming point for children and parents alike.

Recommendation 10-3: Advocate the federal government for a greater provincial role in immigrant selection to ensure that the level and mix of immigrants coming to Ontario is optimized to support economic prosperity and improve outcomes for immigrants. Barring success, advocate for an expanded Provincial Nominee Program.

The PNP might also explore age of the children of immigrants recruited through it. If Canada and Ontario are to thrive, the “level and mix” of immigrants must include children from birth to age eight and a PNP is well positioned to address this gap.

Recommendation 10-4: Press the federal government to be more transparent in its refugee policies and practices and to compensate Ontario for the costs of providing additional social supports to refugees and refugee claimants.

In our discussions and recommendations for ‘culturally appropriate child care’, it must be noted that refugee children have significantly different needs than children of immigrants who choose to emigrate. Services and supports for refugee children and youth must be developed with these specific needs in mind.

Recommendation 10-6: Streamline and integrate provincially delivered integration and settlement services for recent immigrants with Employment Ontario.

Within the discussion for recommendations 5 & 6 is found the statement “Two of the key drivers of labour-market success for immigrants are a working knowledge of one of Canada’s official languages and educational credentials that are accepted by regulatory bodies and potential employers”. While immigrantchildren.ca would agree that language and credentials are key, the Drummond report misses the mark by neglecting to consider the importance of child care for any working parent.

Recommendation 10-7: Advocate for devolving federal immigrant settlement and training programs to the province…

Again, we would argue that any settlement funding agreement with the federal government should include start-up and ongoing funds for child care.

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The Commission cites a number of studies in its report including one by Mr Drummond himself that clearly articulates and recognizes the value of high quality child care. See D. Drummond, and F, Fong, “The Changing Canadian Workplace”, TD Economics, TD Bank Financial Group, 2010.

“…the higher incidence of part-time employment is caused, in part, by the cultural notion that women remain the primary caretaker of a family. As such, full-time employment is most likely not an option for many women as this would imply foregoing time to tend to household responsibilities. This also speaks to the poor state of childcare options available to many Canadians. Among comparative advanced nations in the OECD, Canada spends the smallest share of its GDP on early childhood education and care (ECEC) for those aged 0-6. At just 0.25% of GDP, this is extremely distant from the 1.5%-2% range spent by the Scandinavian countries. And since ECEC spending falls under provincial jurisdiction, the 0.25% figure is an aver- age across the provinces and is likely skewed by the heavy subsidization in Quebec where, for example, the $7 per day childcare provides for many lower income parents. Hence, regardless of the fact that Canada has one of the highest female participation rates in the world, participation in childcare services for children under the age of 3 is only in the middle of the pack among the OECD”.

Another report cited by the Commission is Fernando Mata, “The Non-Accreditation of Immigrant Professionals in Canada: Societal Dimensions of the Problem”, Department of Canadian Heritage, 1999:

“A recent example is a survey of the accreditation problems faced by immigrant women in the nursing, teaching and social work professions in partnership with the National Organization of Immigrant and Visible Minority Women in Canada (NOIVMWC). The report coming out from the survey revealed that immigrant women with professional degrees, in addition to the common problems faced by male counterparts, were more negatively affected by “lack of services and resources in the areas of childcare and language training”.

The Commission rightfully relied on a careful examination of the literature in addition to its consultations. The literature findings, including Mr. Drummond’s own work, clearly sees the value of a system of high quality early learning and child care as an employment support and a support to integration of newcomers, but it failed to include child care as a recommendation to the people of Ontario. As such, it has failed immigrant families.

Muslim prayer in the Toronto District School Board

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

There is discussion in the media today about the complaint brought forward by the group Canadian Hindu Advocacy about the Toronto District School Board‘s religious accommodation policy – and practice in one its schools. See, for example, Kelly McParland’s piece in today’s National Post.

Thought I’d quickly share resources that may be useful in understanding this issue:

The Ontario Ministry of Education Policy/Program Memorandum 119 which provides “direction to school boards on the review, development, implementation, and monitoring of equity and inclusive education policies to support student achievement. Our schools need to help students develop into highly skilled, knowledgeable, and caring citizens who can contribute to both a strong economy and a cohesive society”.

Here’s what the PPM says about religious accommodation:

School board policies on religious accommodation must be in accordance with the Ontario Human Rights Code and the requirements stated in Policy/Program Memoranda No. 108, “Opening or Closing Exercises in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools”, and  No. 112, “Education About Religion in the Public Elementary and Secondary Schools”. As part of their new or revised equity and inclusive education policy and implementation plan, boards will include a religious accommodation guideline in keeping with the Ontario Human Rights Code, which prohibits discrimination on the grounds of creed (includes religion) and imposes a duty to accommodate. Accordingly, boards are expected to take appropriate steps to provide religious accommodation for students and staff.

The EDU states that school boards have 4 years to develop and implement policies.

The Toronto District School Board‘s policy, Guidelines and Procedures for the Accommodation of Religious Requirements, Practices and Observances “Explains in detail the religious accommodations that are necessary in schools in the Toronto District School Board. Many religions’ prayer, diet, attire, and holiday laws and observances are explained in order for schools to make appropriate accommodations for students”.

Also see : The Ontario Human Rights Code.

Immigrant children, youth and families: A Qualitative analysis of the challenges of integration

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

This spring, the Social Planning Council of Ottawa concluded work on “Immigrant children, youth and families: A Qualitative analysis of the challenges of integration”, as part of their Families in Community project.

The report addresses the disconnect when newcomer families feel their parenting and child-rearing methods are not acknowledged/respected and the tension service providers feel about some newcomers who they perceive demonstrate a lack of commitment to early child development.

Next stages in the SPCO Families in Community project will result in:

An analysis of best/good practices for culturally-based family supports by ethno-cultural organizations.

Supports to good/best practices within 8 pilot projects with small ethno-cultural organizations.

A resource kit for mainstream family services based on good practices serving new immigrant families.

The report will be launched at the annual Social Planning Council of Ottawa AGM, May 26, 2011 in Ottawa. For information, contact Helene by May 15 at 613-236-9300 ext. 300 office@spcottawa.on.ca.  Free admission, but donations are welcome.

Ethical challenges inherent in meeting mental health needs of immigrant children and youth, Toronto conference

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

Sponsored by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Thistletown Regional Centre, a multi-service mental health treatment centre for children, youth and families, is hosting a conference Nov 17-18, 2010 in the McDonald Block, Ontario government building complex, downtown Toronto.

What’s the conference about?

As one of the first events of this nature, the conference aims to identify/address different aspects of a unique and complex component of children’s mental health service provision. It will bring together prominent speakers, and service providers and users to present, in an open dialogue, their thinking on an area of critical concern, and share their experience on how their current values, convictions, and/or expectations are implemented in the service provision/use. It is expected that the conference will facilitate a better understanding of the diverse shape of ethical dilemmas in the children’s mental health field. In addition to providing an opportunity to learn from each other, the conference will contribute towards strengthening our services, as well as provide a foundation for our further work in modeling ethical-decision making with immigrant children, youth, their families and communities” (Source: Conference description).

Who should attend?

Mental health professionals, social workers, speech and language pathologists, PTs and OTs, policy makers, academics and researchers, settlement workers,  ethno-racial community leaders, and anyone with an interest in mental health services for newcomer children, youth and their families are welcome to participate.

For more information on the conference, including speaker bios, see this page. To register, visit here.

On New Shores 2010: Coping with stress in various cultural contexts

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

Details have been finalized for the 4th annual On New Shores conference. The theme this year is Resilience of immigrants: Coping with stress in various cultural contexts.

The conference, organized by Dr. Susan Chuang will be held Sept 30-Oct 1, 2010 at the University of Guelph, Ontario. The line-up:

Day One: Thursday, September 30

8:00 -9:00 Registration.

9:00-9:15 Welcome and introductions: Serge Desmarais, Associate Vice President and Susan Chuang, Organizer.

9:15-9:30 Dedication: Tom Luster. Strangers in a Strange Land: The ‘Lost Boys of Sudan’, Michigan State University.

9:45-10:35 Michael Ungar, The Social Ecology of Resilience: Culture, Context, Resources, and Meaning, Dalhousie University.

Morning concurrent sessions:

Beyond Stress: Immigrant women facing domestic violence, with Effat Ghassemi and Reza Shahbazi, Newcomer Centre of Peel and New Canadians’ Centre of Excellence, Inc.

Compassion fatigue: Warning signs and practical tools for prevention and resilience, with Jane Bradley, certified Compassion Fatigue Specialist.

Strategy for building resilience in immigrant youth Youth: A Two-tiered mentorship program, with Petra Okeke and Nashila Dharsh, The Calgary Bridge Foundation for Youth.

Achors Away, Anchors to Stay, with Rita Francis and Fadia Ismail, YMCA.

Parental exposure to life stress: Mechanisms of resilience in immigrant children, with Kelly Fife and Katholiki Georgiades, McMaster University.

Protection from the storm: Resilience and life satisfaction in US immigrant populations, with Vanessa Alleyne and Claire Wooloff, Montclair State University.

Early afternoon concurrent sessions:

Channels of mother-infant communication across task, development, and culture, with Catherine Tamis-LeMonda, New York University.

Mothers’ reports of fathers’ involvement with children in Mexican immigrant families in the US, with Ziarat Hossain, University of New Mexico.

Stress and resilience among Latino immigrant families, with Jo Ann Farver, University of Southern California.

The Promotion of resilience in the face of challenge among Chinese Canadian youth, with Catherine Costigan, University of Victoria.

Hostile hallways: Chinese American youth experience of peer discrimination in schools, with Erika Niwa, Niobe Way, and Desiree Qin, New York University and Michigan State University.

Ethnic composition of peer groups: Effects on Chinese Canadian and Euro-Canadian children’s adjustment, with Xinyin Chen, University of Pennsylvania.

More than a haircut: Building on strengths and mutual support at the barbershop, with Sarah Marsh, Lorraine Kirlew and Chevy King, Centre for Community Based Research, Macauley Child Development Centre, and York University.

Resilience in Sudanese Refugee Families in Canada, with David Este, Laura Simich and Hayley Hamilton, University of Calgary, and Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

Immigrants raising citizens: Undocumented parents of the second generation, with Hiro Yoshikawa, Harvard University.

Later afternoon concurrent sessions:

Settlement in the early years: The Distinctive needs of young newcomer children, with Judith Colbert.

Paradoxical patterns in early academic trajectories of newcomer children in Miami, with Jessica deFeyter, Adam Winsler and Yoon  Kim, George Mason University.

Ready, Set, Go: A School readiness program supporting a successful start to kindergarten, with Sarah Liddell, Aisling Discoveries Child and Family Centre.

A Qualitative Investigation of Chinese Youth ‘Growing up in NYC’, with Uwe Gielen, Jonathan Palumbo, and Ting Lei, St. Francis College and Borough of Manhattan College.

Internal migration in Mongolia: The Meaning of being a proper Chinese citizen, with William Jankowiak, University of Nevada.

Dragon seed: A Visual tour of  NYC Chinatown, with Uwe Gielen, St. Francis College.

Fitting in: The Roles of social acceptance and discrimination among Latino youth, with Krista Perreira, Stephanie Potochick and Andrew Fuligni, University of North Carolina and UCLA.

School influences on levels of emotional-behavioural problems among immigrant and ethnic-minority youth, with Katholiki Georgiades, Michael Boyle, and Kelly Fife, McMaster University.

Day Two: Friday, October 1

9:00-11:40 Michael Ungar Workshop: Clinical interventions to nurture resilience among culturally diverse youth and their families.

Poster presentations:

Sudanese Families ~ In Honour of Dr. Tom Luster, Michigan State University.

The Influence of racialized experiences on the identities of Sudanese refugee youth, by Deborah Johnson, Andrew Saltarelli and Desiree Qin.

“My culture helps me make good decisions”: Cultural appropriation and adaptation of Sudanese refugee youth, by Desiree Qin, Andrew Saltarelli, Laura Bates et al.

Successful adjustment among Sudanese unaccompanied minors: Perspectives of youth and their foster parents, by Tom Luster, Desiree Qin, Laura Bates et al.

Fostering Sudanese refugee youth: Parent perspectives, by Laura Bates, Deborah Johnson, Meenal Rana et al.

Immigrant parents and adolescents negotiating time and space
Lynda Ashbourne, University of Guelph.

Newcomer youth from five provinces: Exploration of challenges and coping strategies, by Susan Chuang, Sarah Rasmi, Maria Garces et al., University of Guelph.

Understanding Violence and Healing: Voices of Racialized Young People in Vancouver and Toronto, by Neringa Kubiliene, Miu-Chung Yan, Sarah Maiter et al., University of British Columbia and York University.

A Model of alcohol use among Latino adolescents: Exploring the influence of generational status, by Miriam Martinez, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The Settlement sector: The Profession, by Jacqueline McAdam and Caroline Lai, Global Trek.

Inquiry in English with different proficiency: A Youth leadership program at Toronto’s Chinatown, by Yamin Qian, University of Toronto.

Acculturation and family relationships: Uncovering the narratives of Chinese-Canadian immigrant youth, by Christine Tardif-Williams,
Brock University.

Afternoon Concurrent sessions:

Promoting resilience in war-affected youth, with Chandi Fernando, University of Toronto.

Stress and resilience among Liberian and Burundian refugee adolescents and their families, with Madeleine Currie, Hiro Yoshikawa, and Steven Weine, Harvard University.

Impact of war on teaching and relations among teachers of Buduburam refugee camps in Ghana, with Salome Priase Otami, Christiane Noi-Akwei1 and Benjamin Aflakpui, Central University College, Cape Town, South Africa.

Conceptualizations of resilience in refugee mental health, with Laura Simich and Wade Pickre, Ryerson University and Central for Addiction and Mental Health.

Conceptual and methodological issues for studying immigrant child mental health and school achievement, with Katholiki Georgiades, Michael Boyle, and Kelly Fife, McMaster University.

Diversity in action: Adapting mental health services in Canada, with Anne Dupré, Psychology Foundation of Canada.

El Vaivén: Return migration and education in Puerto Rico and Mexico, with Sandra Soto-Santiago and Luis Moll, University of Arizona.

Transnational entrepreneurship: Immigrant family perspective, with Benson Honig, McMaster University.

4:00-4:30 Future directions & Concluding remarks

To register, or if you have questions, contact: Dr. Susan Chuang, schuang@uoguelph.ca | 519-824-4120, ext. 58389.

Conference call: Migration and the global city, Toronto

Monday, May 10th, 2010

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.

Multilingual resources from the Best Start Resource Centre

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

The Best Start Resource Centre, Ontario’s Maternal, Newborn and Early Child Development Resource Centre (part of Health Nexus Santé) is holding an event to announce a new series of multilingual resources in eight languages developed for newcomers to Canada who are planning a pregnancy, are pregnant or are new parents.

The event will be held 6-7:30pm on Thurs May 13, 2010 at Oakham House in Toronto. For more information and to rsvp, please contact Ronald Dieleman, 416.408.6910 or r.dieleman@healthnexus.ca.

The eight languages are: Arabic, Filipino, Hindi, Punjabi, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, Tamil and Urdu.

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

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

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.

An early learning framework for immigrant and refugee children

Monday, March 1st, 2010

As the Ontario government launched their Best Start initiative in 2003, they struck several “expert panels” to advise them on best practices in delivering quality early learning and child care. One of the expert panels developed an Early Learning Framework, also referred to as the Early Learning for Every Child Today curriculum, or ELECT. This post explores the opportunity to adapt the framework to meet the unique needs of immigrant and refugee children.

The Early Learning Framework (ELF) provides a common framework for early childhood practitioners on what and how young children learn. It is complementary to all early childhood settings and curricula. The ELF strengthens practitioner’s ability to support young children’s early learning, growth and development.

The ELF has wide support within the early childhood community; the framework has been well received by the early childhood community and has been implemented in several locations (see the Atkinson Centre for Society and Child Development).

A settlement-focused complementary ELF, will support settlement workers in understanding and responding to the specific settlement issues of young children.

The ELF describes “how young children learn and develop (p.1)”. A settlement-focused ELF could describe how young newcomer children learn, develop, and settle. Newcomer children have specific needs, different from children of the dominant culture. The ELF does not address issues specific to immigrant and refugee children (although a background paper on diversity, equity and inclusion was prepared for and is briefly cited in the ELF). For example, in a section on brain development, a settlement-focused ELF might more fully include the research on the impact of trauma on developing brains. This is important information for practitioners working with newcomer children, especially refugee children fleeing war-torn countries and/or environmental disasters.

The ELF acknowledges the important role that families and communities play in the development of young children. A settlement-focused ELF could expand on this element and include discussion of differing values in a range of cultures and how newcomers cope with and learn to parent in a new socio-cultural context.

The ELF contains a “statement of principles… based on beliefs, values, experience and current research findings” and includes this statement “Respect for diversity, equity and inclusion are prerequisites for honouring children’s rights, optimal development and learning”. A settlement-focused ELF could begin with a similar statement but expand and ground its framework from an equity and inclusion starting point.

Using the ELF as a foundation, practitioners will share the same language as practitioners in other settings, furthering their ability to connect/liaise on behalf of newcomer children with practitioners in related sectors and therefore ease newcomer children transition into formal early learning and child care services and kindergarten.

A proposed structure for a settlement-focused ELF would mirror the ELF Table of Contents (p.3), with some changes, adjustments and additions.  For example, in addition to the section on “Understanding Children’s Development”, a settlement-focused ELF might include a section on “Understanding Settlement Issues for Children and Parents”. A glossary would be indispensable in helping practitioners understand and use a common language to discuss settlement, integration, racism, transnational families, trauma (PTSD) and etc.

The ELF itself endorses the development of a kind of settlement-focused ELF:

“Young children with different abilities, challenges, resources and cultural backgrounds and their families come together in early childhood settings. They bring unique life experiences and orientations. They and their families benefit most when they are fully included and when they feel that they belong. Children grow up with a strong sense of self in environments that promote attitudes, beliefs and values of equity and democracy and support their full participation. To include everyone, early childhood settings must encourage healthy dialogue about the principles and shared beliefs that relate to inclusion, diversity, and equity. They must recognize every child as a citizen with equal rights and unique views about how to participate in the world. To turn belief statements and principles into practice at the community level requires an infrastructure that actively promotes engagement of all children and their families (p. 12)”.

The development and use of a settlement-focused ELF would also demonstrate collaboration across jurisdictions, if jointly supported by the federal and provincial governments. Importantly, the inclusion of the core components of the ELF in a settlement-focused curriculum document would support quality early learning and care environments and outcomes for newcomer children.

I welcome expressions of interest in developing a settlement-focused early learning curriculum. See my contact info.

Listening to families: Responding to (newcomer) families

Monday, February 15th, 2010

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.

On new shores conference update

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

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.