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.

CERIS seminar: Immigrant children and youth ~ the role of the Ontario Provincial Advocate

The Ontario Metropolis Centre, CERIS (Centre of Excellence for Research in Immigration Studies) is hosting a public forum on Immigrant Children and Youth: The Role of the Ontario Provincial Advocate, with the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth, Irwin Elman presenting and Dr. Francis Hare, CERIS Family, Children and Youth domain leader moderating.

The forum will be held Friday Jan 29/10 from 12noon to 2pm at CERIS, 246 Bloor St. W., 5th floor, Toronto. RSVP to ceris.reception@utoronto.ca or by phone at 416.946.3110.

Findings from the New Canadian Children & Youth Study: Public forum in Toronto

CERIS (Ontario Metropolis Centre) and Ryerson University present findings from the New Canadian Children and Youth Study on Fri. Jan 22/10 12noon to 2pm at The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education, Ryerson University. Dr. Morton Beiser will present. Moderated by Dr. Laura Simich, domain leader for health and well-being at CERIS. RSVP to ceris.reception@utoronto.ca, or by phone at 416.946.3110. More info: visit the CERIS webiste.

Multiple diversities: immigrant and refuge child identity, Toronto event

The Community Health Systems Resource Group, Learning Institute at the Hospital for Sick Children presents a symposium on Dec 1/09 on Multiple Diversities: Child/Youth Identity and Life Outcomes.

From the flyer: “How do the ways that we see young people affect the way they see themselves?  What are the impacts on their health and well being? How can we use existing knowledge to ensure optimal life outcomes for all of Canada’s immigrant and refugee children? This symposium will be of particular interest to:  educators, health care professionals, social service providers, policy makers, non governmental organizations, child/youth associations, researchers and students”.

The symposium will be held in the MaRS Discovery District, Toronto.

York University (Toronto) annual summer course on refugee and forced migration studies

This year’s Summer Course on Refugee and Forced Migration Issues by the Centre for Refugee Studies, York University will be held May 8-16/10 at the Keele Campus. Fee is $975 Cdn, if you register before Feb 26/10 (fee goes up to $1100 after that date).

For more information, visit the conference course website , email summer@yorku.ca and refer back to previous postings at immigrantchildren.ca.

ECE professional development conference, Toronto

Toronto Children’s Services and the School of Early Childhood Education at George Brown College are partnering to present Raising the Bar, Lifting the Field, a professional development event for early childhood practitioners on Dec 2/09 in Toronto at the BMO Institute for Learning.

Several sessions will be of interest to immigrantchildren.ca readers, including:

  • Inclusion and family support: Promoting diversity in your community. This session, led by Patricia Hunt, Family Supports Institute Ontario, will address LGBTQ issues.
  • Toronto childcare centres: A Language profile. Dr. Roma Chumak-Horbatsch, of mylanguage.ca, will present findings from a 2008 study conducted in collaboration with Toronto Children’s Services.
  • Developmentally inappropriate practice? The Role of reflective practice in supporting inclusion. Lisa Phyllis, Early Years Coordinator for Humber College will expand practitioners understanding of how to create and maintain inclusive environments.

Language matters: Metropolis seminar on language acquisition and newcomer integration

Metropolis Canada presents Language Matters: A Policy-Research Seminar on Language Acquisition and Newcomer Integration on Thurs Oct 22/09, 8am-4pm at Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa.

From the flyer at Metropolis Canada:

“It is widely believed that acquiring the language(s) of the host society is critical to all aspects of the integration of newcomers – economic, social, cultural and political. And while linguistic diversity has always been a hallmark of Canadian society, this diversity has deepened with recent waves of immigration. In cooperation with provincial governments and other partners, the Government of Canada offers a range of official language training and related programs across the country to youth and adult newcomers.

“Despite these initiatives, language remains a barrier to labour market success for many newcomers, including skilled workers. A mismatch exists between employers’ expectations and newcomers’ perceptions of requisite linguistic ability for many occupations. At the same time, newcomers’ linguistic integration also depends on the receptivity of those listening to them, especially native speakers of English and French.

“Maintenance of heritage languages and the existence of ethnic enclaves pose further complexities. Passing on the ancestral language to subsequent generations is an important way for linguistic minorities to maintain their cultural diversity. On the other hand, heavy dependence on the enclave may weaken linguistic and overall integration into mainstream society. In an era marked by increasing globalization and international trade, knowledge of languages other than English and French could also be an asset to Canadian institutions and individuals.

“This seminar will provide both national and international perspectives on the complex relationship between language acquisition and newcomer integration, with the twin objectives of informing policy discussions and identifying future research directions”.

immigrantchildren.ca hopes that the seminar speaks to the (2nd, 3rd, and subsequent) language acquisition for newcomer children and has a comprehensive approach to addressing the disconnect that can occur between immigrant parents – who want their children to learn English or French as a 2nd language, in order to fit in to Canadian mainstream society – and the importance of retaining the home language to not only support 2nd (and more) language acquisition, but which speaks directly to the relationship (and attachment) between parents and their children. Particularly young children take on a 2nd language well and as a result may severe themselves from their first language/culture and create a separation from their families and countries of origin. See mylangauge.ca for information on the importance of retaining home languages.

immigrantchildren.ca is heartened to hear that Prof Jim Cummins of OISE is on the panel for this seminar and know he will bring foward the notion of – and importance of – multiple literacies.

immigrantchildren.ca hopes that the Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism is invited to attend the seminar. MinJK (as he’s known on twitter) has made a few public statements about immigrant children learning English or French as they integrate into Canada. Select examples:

Ontario’s McGuinty urged to ‘do the right thing’ for immigrant children

There have been a number of initiatives in the last ten years (and previously) to  address the patchwork of services and supports for families with young children in Ontario.

In the Harris/Eves government, the Ontario Early Years Centres were an attempt to respond to the Mustard/McCain report, The Early Years Study which called for an early child development and parenting model of service, to serve as Tier 1 entry to the formal school system. (See Ontario Early Years: A Very Brief History, at the Health Nexus Sante blog).

The Best Start initiative was launched by the next government, Premier Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals, and saw communities collaborating in Best Start Networks, working to bring services and supports together in ‘hubs’ for children from birth to age six.

This summer, The Premier’s early learning advisor, Dr Charles Pascal was asked to look at how to best prepare young children to succeed in school and released With Our Best Future in Mind. Pascals’ report calls for many of the same options of previous investigations but with clear – and implementable – steps.

For immigrant children and families, the system proposed by Pascal are especially important. Pascal envisions a system of child- and family-centred schools, with access to information, resources, supports and services for parents and caregivers and full-day kindergarten and early learning and child care for children. Pascal’s system builds upon the work – and success of both the Ontario Early Years Centres and the Best Start Networks.

As the province with the largest number of immigrant families with young children, Premier McGuinty would serve immigrant families very well in adopting the plan. I cannot think of a better way to welcome newcomer children and families to their new communities than by having a school act as the central point of entry into the myriad of social, health and educational services. Such community-based school centres (staffed by kindergarten teachers and Early Childhood Educators and other family support workers) will have expertise to assist the integration of newcomer families with young children into their communities.

For parents with existing resources (time, funds, language skills and peer support and/or extended family members to help), it is difficult enough to navigate the system. Imagine not having the language, the networks, or knowing where to go to get this kind of information. That is the reality for immigrant families.  The school – an institution universally recognized as the centre of a community – is the best place to act as a central (and a multiple-) point of entry to the world of health, educational and support services for immigrant families with young children.

{see June 16/09 post for more on how the Pascal plan addresses early child diversity}

Settlement workers in schools

Settlement Workers in the Schools (SWIS) is a partnership of Ontario school boards, the settlement sector and Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Ten SWIS programs operate in Ontario.

School is one of the first public institutions that children and families encounter. A program like SWIS has an ideal opportunity to support immigrant integration by introducing newcomers to their new community and connecting families with information, resources and support as they navigate the school system.

This fall, SWIS will again be delivering Newcomer Orientation Week in 60 schools across Ontario, including a French language counterpart, SONA. New this year, a middle-school program, WIN (Welcome and Information for Newcomers) will be piloted in 16 schools in Ottawa, Peel, Toronto and Windsor. For more information on SWIS, including their latest newsletter, see atwork.settlement.org.

Coming soon to immigrantchildren.ca ~ full contact information for all SWIS sites.

Ontario gov’t consultation on live-in caregivers and other ‘temporary’ workers

The Ontario Ministry of Labour (MOL) has released a consultation paper on temporary foreign workers and is inviting comment from interested stakeholders.

The paper, entitled A Consultation Paper on Foreign and Resident Employment Recruitment in Ontario, addresses live-in caregivers. From the Minister of Labour, The Honourable Peter Fonseca:

“…I have personally attended community roundtables for caregivers, where I have heard disturbing stories about the treatment of people who come to this country hoping for a better life for themselves and their families, yet fail to realize their dream or pay too high a price … live-in caregivers, come to Ontario through programs designed and administered by the federal government. In my discussions with caregivers and those who advocate for them, it has become clear that these programs create situations where vulnerable workers are ripe for exploitation. While Ontario will continue to help improve the working conditions of vulnerable workers, the federal government must do its part and address the flaws in the LCP and other programs”.

To submit comments, fax the MOL at 416.314.5855 to the attention of “Foreign and Resident Employment Recruitment”, mail to Foreign and Resident Employment Recruitment, 400 University Ave., 12th floor, Toronto ON M7A 1T7 or email recruitmentconsultations@ontario.ca. Deadline is August 21/09.

Related resource: Are you a caregiver in the Federal live-in caregiver program? information sheet.

Will work for (because of) art

A Regent Park (Toronto) arts program ED saw that staff didn’t reflect the cultural community it served; that children had limited notions of what art/craft is; and that immigrant artisan women were seeking employment and created the Artisan Training and Employment Project.

Now in its third year, the Artisan Training and Employment Project brings together newcomer artisan women with the children of Regent Park, Toronto, in an arts program that supports employment training for immigrant women – and expands for children the notion of what art is. A win-win. The project provides part-time work, employment and training to newcomer women through the ArtHeart, Community Art Centre.

The project reports success in the women finding work after the program. For more info see the power point presentation posted at the CERIS site.

“Peel Immigration Papers”

In May, CERIS (The Joint Centre of Excellence for Research in Immigration Studies and Ontario Metropolis Centre) held a seminar based on research conducted in several areas, culminating in the Peel Immigration Papers. The papers include issues related to children and families. They are:

  • Meeting the human service needs of immigrants. Speaker: Sarah V. Wayland, Wayland Consulting.
  • Meeting the needs of immigrants throughout the life cycle. Speaker: Ilene Hyman, UT.
  • From generation to generation. Speaker: Michelle P. Goldberg, OISE/UT.

Wayland’s presentation provides an overview of the issues and makes recommendations for optimal service delivery. Hyman’s presentatiaon (developed with Judith K. Bernhard and Ellen Tate) closely examines the importance of early childhood education in their overview of the issues and in their recommendations. Finally, Goldberg’s presentation (developed with Sarah V. Wayland) examines supports to families and communities in the areas of: Academic supports; Emotional and social supports; Mitigating the effects of poverty; and Building community social capital. We hope that the full papers – from which these presentations were based – are also made available online.