Children’s rights Wiki from Child Rights International Network (CRIN)

Child Rights International Network (CRIN) has launched today a child rights wiki. From their announcement:

“Today, CRIN is launching a “Children’s Rights Wiki” to bring together all information about children’s rights in one place. The aim of the project – which is in the style of a Wikipedia – is to make the large volume of information that exists on children’s rights more accessible, to highlight persistent violations and inspire collective action. Much of the information in the new Wiki is already available on the CRIN website.

“See the Wiki here: Initially the Wiki is beginning with 41 country pages, with more to follow. They are:

Afghanistan, Angola, Argentina, Bahrain, Belarus, Belgium, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Colombia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, Egypt, El Salvador, Finland, Grenada, Guatemala, Japan, Lao, Macedonia, Yogoslav Republic, Mongolia, Montenegro, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Paraguay, Serbia, Singapore, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tajikstan, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, Yemen”.

The Wiki is a web-based, multi-lingual and interactive project – CRIN welcomes comments or suggestions to

ANCIE Sept bulletin on international students


AMSSA – The Affiliation of Multicultural Societies and Services of BC also manages the AMSSA Newcomer Information Exchange (ANCIE) and releases a quarterly e-Bulletin on a number of topics related to newcomer children.

The September 2011 bulletin is on international students; students who are in Canada on a visa or as a refugee claimant. The bulletin examines why international students come to Canada, shares perspectives from business and teachers, and provides information on how to support international students as they navigate their way through the BC school system. (Information is relevant and applicable across jurisdictions).

Visit the ANCIE page to learn how to subscribe.

Muslim prayer in the Toronto District School Board

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

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  Free admission, but donations are welcome.

Canadian Council for Refugees spring consultation

The Canadian Council for Refugees spring consultation will be held from May 26-28, 2011 in Hamilton, Ontario.

2011 marks the 60th anniversary of the Refugee Convention. The 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees is the internationally recognized legal document that defines who a refugee is, what their rights are and the legal obligations of states parties to the Convention.

This consultation includes (so far) at least two sessions directly related to children/youth/family issues, including:

The impact of lost or mistaken identity documents for youth

Lost identity documents (ID) or misinformation can have serious impacts on the lives of refugee and immigrant youth in Canada. This workshop will look at the problems associated with trying to replace lost or mistaken identity documents for newcomer youth, and some possible solutions and actions.

Convention compliance for refugee children

The purpose of this workshop will be to explore the extent of Canada’s compliance with the Refugee Convention in the  areas of refoulement, detention and family reunification. Participants will review CCR activities relative to each area and brainstorm about potential activities the CCR could undertake to promote greater compliance.

For more information, visit the Canadian Council for Refugees website.

Immigrant children falling behind (US)

From The Future of Children listserv:

Nearly a quarter of schoolchildren in the United States are immigrants or the children of immigrants. A substantial percentage of these children, especially those from Latin America, are falling behind in school and as a result, face a bleak economic future.

On April 20, The Future of Children, a joint project of Princeton University and the Brookings Institution, will host an event: Immigrant children falling behind: Implications and policy prescriptions and release the latest issue of its journal. The issue is devoted entirely to several aspects of the status and well-being of immigrant children. An accompanying policy brief proposes a set of policy recommendations that could improve their attainment, including expanding preschool programs, improved English Language Learner instruction, and congressional passage of the DREAM Act to allow undocumented students to attend college.

The event will begin with an overview of the journal and the policy brief by the editors, Marta Tienda of Princeton and Ron Haskins of Brookings. Following the overview, a panel of experts will present arguments for and against the DREAM Act and comment on how the educational achievement of immigrant children can be improved.

After the program, the speakers will take questions from the audience.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011, 9am -11am, The Brookings Institution, Falk Auditorium, 1775 Massachusetts Ave, NW, Washington, DC. Info: or 202.797.6105.

Papers: Stories of undocumented youth

Papers: Stories of Undocumented Youth tells the story of the approximately 2 million children in the United States who are living “without legal status”, i.e., without “papers”.

These children arrive on American shores not by choice, but because their parents take them there for what they hope will be a better future. Many arrive as babies and small children and do not realize they are living precariously until they turn 18 and attempt to join the labour force, attend college or university or get a driver’s license – all of which require a social security card, an ID reserved for US citizens. These children, many who know no other country and often, language, are educated in US schools, hold US values and face a perilous future without “papers”.

My thanks to Graham Street Productions, for sending me a copy of the DVD  to review.

Papers follows five undocumented youth and tells their stories with the backdrop of the DREAM Act movement. The DREAM Act, a bipartisan initiative developed by Sen. Orin Hatch [R-UT] and Sen. Richard Durbin [D-IL], is a progressive policy response to the issue – with one caveat for the use of the word ‘alien’ in the acronym DREAM – ‘Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act’. The DREAM Act would provide “qualifying undocumented youth” eligibility to enter into a conditional path to full citizenship (for example, requiring youth to complete a college degree or give two years of military service prior to applying for citizenship).

Graham Street Productions, who worked with El Grupo Juvenil (the “Papers” youth crew) produced this inspiring documentary. It opens with a montage of demonstrations, both for and against immigration. There are some beautiful moments of peaceful marching and some harsh displays of hatred. Immigration – legal and otherwise – is a hotly debated issue in the US as it is here in Canada.

The documentary includes commentary from civil rights leaders, politicians, academics and researchers.  A unique parallel story links the LGBTQ movement with the immigration rights movement. One of the youth, Jorge, is both gay and undocumented. From the press release:

They realize that there is extraordinary power in their stories and in telling the truth. The boldness of it inspires us. By coming out as undocumented, they risk arrest, detention, and deportation. By coming out as queer, they risk being ostracized from their families, their churches, their cultures of origin and their communities. But in talking with these courageous young people, it is obvious that they are not going to stop being public about who they are. In some ways the most vulnerable, they are also the most brave. They, more than anyone, know the power of “coming out” and recognize that going public is the way to changes peoples’ hearts and minds.

It is a moving and compelling documentary that has been received with much acclaim. Watch the trailer here. Follow Papersthemovie on twitter at @papersthemovie. Order a copy of the DVD here.

In the name of culture, religion and tradition: Violence against women and girls

The Global Campaign to Stop Killing and Stoning Women and Women Living Under Muslim Laws has released a new study  by Shaina Greiff. No Justice in Justifications: Violence against Women in the Name of Culture, Religion and Tradition (PDF). From the study:

“It is important to demystify the concepts of culture and religion, exposing the vested interests of those who claim to represent authen- ticity, and bringing to light alternative visions in order to protect womens human rights. As Ashish Nandy argues, the greatest tradition of all is the reinvention of tradition. This concept represents the key strategy of the Global Campaign to Stop Killing and Stoning women: what oppresses women is the patriarchal reading of Islam, or any religion or culture, articulated and violently maintained by men in power. Women must reclaim and redefine their culture(s) as legitimate members of local and global communities”.

A little bird told me (last in the series): Top 10 tweeps on immigrant, refugee children and youth ends its top ten series with the Top 10 tweeps on issues specific to immigrant and refugee children and youth. Thanks to all for suggestions via DM, comments left here or by email to me directly.

  1. ~ “CRIN is a global network coordinating and promoting information and action on child rights”. CRIN stands for Child Rights Information Network.
  2. ~ “Founded in 1946, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is the driving force that helps build a world where the rights of every child are realized”.
  3. The woman behind People for Education.
  4. ~ “Protecting the rights of refugee and immigrant children in the United States”. But not just tweets about US.
  5. ~ The Right to Play movement.
  6. ~ “Conceive ideas. cultivate leadership. connect youth”.
  7. ~ “online web portal for newcomer youth between the ages of 18-24, designed to serve as an enriching and interactive online experience”.
  8. ~ Brothers Craig and Marc Kielburger. News on migrant children’s rights and global movements to support child rights.
  9. ~ “Advocating for laws, policies and programs to improve the lives and protect the rights of refugee and displaced women, children and youth”.
  10. ~ 2 days before the “official” G20 Summit, this organization will bring together women and girls from around the world to Toronto. No doubt migration, refugee and racism will be among top issues. Cool website too, with lots of useful information.

Consequences of losing a lawful immigrant parent to deportation

The International Human Rights Law Clinic, the Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Race, Ethnicity and Diversity (UC, Berkeley) and the Immigration Law Clinic (UC, Davis) have recently released a policy brief entitled “In The Child’s Best Interest? The Consequences of Losing a  Lawful Immigrant Parent to Deportation”.

The brief reviews the current state of immigration law in the United States and the impact of the deportation of “lawful permanent resident parents” of more than 100,000 children (of which, more than 80,000 are US citizens).  A harrowing look at the impact of such deportations on children’s lives, education and relationships.

One World, One Family, Many Cultures, IPSCAN conference

IPSCAN – the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, sponsors the upcoming conference One World, One Family, Many Cultures: Strengthening Children and Families Affected by Personal, Intra-Familial and Global Conflict Sept 26-29/10 in Hawaii. From the conference description:

“Our theme, One World, One Family, Many Cultures, recognizes that in spite of our differences we live in one world that is a global family made up of many cultures that can work together towards a common goal of strengthening families, and preventing abuse and neglect of our children. The world faces many challenges with unfortunate conflicts among nations and tragic effects of armed conflict on our families, children and communities. The increase in violence among family members and its painful effects on our children have also challenged us to find ways to strengthen families and prevent family violence. Knowing the value of diversity in our efforts to prevent harm to our children, we invite the nations of the world to share their cultural experiences, values, and traditions to empower the youth of our nations to work together”.

Conference sub-themes:
1. Cultural Perspectives in Strengthening Families and Protecting Children
2. Identifying, Treating and Preventing Family and Sexual Violence
3. Impact of Armed Conflict on Families and Children
4. Family Strengthening: A Key to the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect
5. Youth Empowerment in the Prevention of Generational Child Abuse and Neglect.

For more information, visit the conference website.

Citizenship: A birthright lottery?

Should folks fortunate enough to be born in the ‘developed’ world be obliged to share their privilege with those less lucky? Author – and Canada Research Chair in Citizenship and Multiculturalism, Ayelet Shachar thinks so. In her new book “The Birthright Lottery”, Shachar investigates the accident of birth and proposes several ways to reconsider (and bestow) citizenship.

Arguing that citizenship status has been arbitrarily given in most nations by birthright and that a child born in Canada ought not have such an unfair advantage over a child born in a poor nation. Among Shachar’s suggestions is a levy on “the inheritance of citizenship” or that citizenship be awarded based on the individual’s “genuine connection” to a country. Shachar asks important and provocative questions on what responsibilities global citizens have to each other.