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.

Draft child care model for newcomer families

Citizenship and Immigration Canada funded the organization CMAS ~ Childminding Monitoring and Advisory Services to draft a child care model for newcomer families; one that would “fit with the modernization of settlement services“.

The draft model is now available on the CMAS website, although it seems that, unfortunately,  feedback is only open until Jan 26th – tomorrow. immigrantchildren.ca responds:

The draft model proposes 3 goals: to simplify the child care system; to support Service Provider Organizations (SPOs) in offering care to more newcomers; and to focus on the child and family. These goals are  synonymous with the goals long articulated by child care advocates and researchers, see the Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada, for example. A comprehensive, not-for-profit, flexible, community-based and publicly funded and regulated child care system would provide all these things to newcomer families with children – as much as it would for all Canadian families and children. In fact, the more “universal” a program, the more it would respond to the differing needs of various groups: student parents, immigrant parents, rural families, shift-working parents. Thirty years of research and policy and program development have the knowledge to build a truly comprehensive system of child care for all Canadian families, newcomer and otherwise.

In the CMAS proposal, there is little meat around the notions of “a streamlined administrative process” and “maximum flexibility”. What do these mean? How will they be operationalized? What are the requirements that CMAS speaks of? Most glaringly, the notion of “quality child care” is not defined, explained or discussed, although it is promised. Is there a more detailed document that is not being shared?

On page 16, it is suggested that each SPO can assess its own child care needs. This adds a burden on the already overworked SPO. If CIC is committed to providing quality child care for newcomer families, then surely it has a clear role in assessing, developing, implementing and offering child care programs. Leaving it to the SPOs does not promote a comprehensive, universal approach.

Again, there is mention of “requirements” that are not elaborated on. Just what are the requirements? Who has set them? How will they be monitored? Evaluated?

How can the new model be responsive to the needs of newcomer children and families when, as stated on page 17, “Adult services will assist in determining what child care support is required”.

Indeed, child care support is the term used throughout the document. Child care “support”? This is a missed opportunity for the Federal government to acknowledge (as many other jurisdictions in Canada do) that child care is early learning. This proposed model is purely custodial. This is not a support to newcomer families. Early learning would support the integration of newcomer children – integration is a priority of the Federal government.

Indeed there is no discussion of programming, other than mentions of a program’s ability to respond to the needs of newcomer children. But how? For a draft model that purports to address the needs of immigrant children and families, it is light on details.

In addition, there is no discussion of staffing. Other than mentions of enhanced ability of “caregivers” to deliver programming, it is not clear if staff will be required to have any level of training. Will staff be Early Childhood Educators? As Ontario (and other jurisdictions in Canada and North America) moves to upgrading and professionalizing those who work with the most vulnerable of populations (children, and in particular, young immigrant children), the Federal government has missed out on the opportunity to provide newcomer children with the best start possible.

(A parallel “system” of child care exists for military families). More piecemeal approaches do little to further the development of a truly comprehensive system of early learning and child care for all families and children in Canada. The proposed model for newcomer families is a disappointment. immigrantchildren.ca urges CIC to go back to the table, consult with researchers, advocates, practitioners, policy-makers and academics and develop a pan-Canadian child care system that meets the needs of all children and families.

Canadian Council for Refugees winter working group meetings

The Canadian Council for Refugees Winter Working Group meetings will be held in Toronto February 26-27/10. On Fri Feb 26/10, 2 working groups will address Overseas Protection and Sponsorship and Immigration and Settlement. On Sat Feb 27/10, the working group will be meeting on Inland Protection. All working group meetings will include discussion of family reunification. See the page for more information.

Folks who attend the CCR meetings rave about them. Have you ever been?

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.

New citizenship guide for new Canadians

The Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism today released an updated guide to Canadian Citizenship. Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship.

The launch of the “study guide” (last published in 1997) was held at the Terry Fox Centre, where Minister Kenney talked about inspiration, fortune and his vision for modern Canada. The announcement – and guide – provide a generous nod to Canada’s military history and major events (the 1997 edition skipped quite a bit of this, including Vimy Ridge, Juno Beach, Dieppe). The guide also does not shy away from some shameful periods in Canada’s past, such as the residential schools for Aboriginal children, the Internment of Japanese Canadians and the Chinese Exclusion Act, but I was disappointed to not see mention of the home children.

Canadian history must acknowledge the home children – some 100,000 children taken from their homeland and brought to our shores to serve labour needs that Canadians could not or would not take on (sound familiar?). A great many of these children were younger than 10 years old and lived lives of brutality. These children were not adopted in the sense of how we use the word today, but taken, often bought and treated as chattel.  I’ll be lobbying the Canadian Museum of Human Rights to include an exhibit on the home children. Who’s with me?

Consultation on child care for newcomer families

Citizenship and Immigration Canada has funded the organization CMAS (Childminding Monitoring Advisory Support) to conduct a national consultation of the settlement community, including immigrant serving organizations, Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) administrators and childminders, towards the development of a new child care model for newcomer families. The consultation process includes an online survey and teleconferences. See the CMAS website for information and details.