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.

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.

No right to dream: New research on undocumented migrants, UK

Commissioned by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, the research project “No Right to Dream: Young Undocumented Migrants” will be conducted in three regions (London, North West and the Midlands).

From the brief: “The research will therefore focus on the voices of young undocumented migrants about which little is known and will explore and develop the key themes around lives and livelihoods including: experiences of employment; social networks; community involvement; links and obligations with friends and family in their country of origin; how being undocumented impacts on their lives and the longer term goals and aspirations of young undocumented migrants”.

For more information, including PDF briefs in English, Portuguese, Chinese, Kurdish, Turkish, Ukranian, Sbona, Ndeble at the Young Undocumented Migrants website.

Interviewing immigrant and refugee children

BRYCS – the US-based group – Bridging Refugee Youth and Children’s Services has released a guide on best practices in interviewing newly-arrived immigrant or refugee children. The introduction to this guide says that in the US, agencies that receive any federal funding must provide “services of an equal quality to people who have Limited English Proficiency” (LEP) and “To provide equal quality services, it is vital to allow LEP children and families to use the language that they are most comfortable speaking”, meaning that federally funded agencies must provide bilingual interviewers or foreign language interpreters.

Does anyone know if Canada has any similar requirement? Should we?

Call for papers: Canadian Association for Refugee and Forced Migration Studies (CARFMS)

The Institute on Globalization and the Human Condition, McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario will host the 3rd annual conference of the Canadian Association for Refugee and Forced Migration Studies (CARFMS) from May 6-8, 2010.

From the call, as posted on the forced migration discussion listserv*:

“In recent years, the idea of change has charged political debate in countries around the world and has, in some cases, catalyzed the election of new governments and the creation of innovative programs and policies. This period has also been one of significant change for the field of forced migration.  New policies and increasingly securitized perceptions of forced migration have created new practices such as interdiction, detention and expedited deportation that have changed the protection landscape in both the global North and South. At the same time as scholars have questioned the labelling and bureaucratic categorization of forced migrants, the United Nations has piloted new approaches to improve the protection and assistance available to members of traditionally marginalized categories, particularly internally displaced persons. Massive displacement in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and Cyclone Nargis raised the profile of environmental refugees as an issue predicted to grow in importance as the impacts of climate change become increasingly evident. In Canada, the government has recently announced that it is preparing a package of changes to the refugee determination system, including the fast-tracking of claims from countries that are generally considered safe. As a precursor to more sweeping anticipated changes, the government has already imposed visa requirements on Mexico and the Czech Republic in an attempt to stem the flow of refugee claimants from those countries.

“The 2010 CARFMS Conference will bring together researchers, policymakers, displaced persons and advocates from diverse disciplinary and regional backgrounds to discuss the changes and challenges faced in the field of forced migration. We invite participants from a wide range of perspectives to explore the practical, experiential, policy-oriented, legal and theoretical questions raised by different processes of change affecting forced migrants at the local, national, regional and international levels.

“Proposals are being sought from the following broad sub-themes:

  • Asylum, protection and durable solutions: Needs, current practices and prospects for reform
  • Theorizing the changing field of forced migration
  • Experiencing displacement: Changes and challenges”.

250-word abstracts for proposed conference papers and panels are due by January 29, 2010 and must be submitted via the conference website. For more information, contact Heather Johnson – johnsohl@mcmcaster.ca.

* The Forced Migration Discussion List is moderated by the Refugee Studies Centre (RSC), University of Oxford. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the RSC or the university.

Stateless children

Refugees International presents Futures Denied: Statelessness among infants, children and youth. According to tthe childtrafficking.com listserv, some 11-12 million children, “though born and raised in their parents country of habitual residence” are stateless or without effective nationality.

Stateless was a concern raised when new citizenship policy, impacting first generation of international adoptees, was introduced by the federal government in the Spring of 2009. The new regulations offered an option to grant immediate Canadian citizenship to adopted children, but put limits or conditions on any children they might have outside of Canada. The rationale for the policy change was to provide an additional option for adoptive parents who were pursuing citizenship status for adopted children through the naturalization process. For more info, including to external links, see the posts at immigrantchildren.ca and chidinterrupted.ca.

“On Their Own”: Unaccompanied children conference

On Their Own: Protecting the Rights of Immigrant Children is the theme of this year’s annual conference hosted by the (US-based) National Center for Refugee and Immigrant Children.

The conference will be held Oct 7-9/09 in Washington DC and will attract advocates from the legal sector as well as participants from the wider non-profit sector, including policy makers, academics and researchers. The conference seeks to examine and challenge current practices and policies and develop best practices for supporting unaccompanied children.

For more info, see the website.

Which way home: Documentary on unaccompanied children

Which Way Home tells the story of several unaccompanied child migrants as they journey through Mexico en route to the United States via a freight train they have nick-named The Beast. Directed by Rebecca Cammisa, the film tells the stories of “children like Olga and Freddy, nine-year old Hondurans who are desperately trying to reach their families in Minnesota, and Jose, a ten-year-old El Salvadoran who has been abandoned by smugglers and ends up alone in a Mexican detention center, and focuses on Kevin, a canny, streetwise 14-year-old Honduran, whose mother hopes that he will reach New York City and send money back to his family. These are stories of hope and courage, disappointment and sorrow” (Source: uscri.refugees.org listserv).

Airs Mon Aug 24/09 et/pt at 9pm on HBO.

Best interests of the immigrant, refugee, ‘culturally diverse’ child

The Canadian Coalition for the Rights of the Child has released its discussion paper, Best Interests of the Child: Meaning and Application in Canada. The paper was prepared for the conference, held February 2009 and includes content gleaned from conference sessions. Each section contains an introduction to a particular issue, a discussion of the issue, suggestions for action and/or further research.

Three sections will be of particular interest to immigrantchildren.ca readers: Children in the Refugee and Immigration System; Early Childhood Learning and Care; and Children and Cultural Diversity. This post highlights only some of the issues and suggested actions. For a complete review, consult the full paper on the CRC website.

Children and Cultural Diversity

Discussion of Issues ~ “In Canada, immigrants often want to preserve the culture they brought with them, even though it may be changing in the country of origin to reflect more modern conceptions of children’s rights (frozen culture). Children often get caught between a parent’s desire to preserve their past and young people’s desire to be accepted in the new country. In some ways, Canada’s multiculturalism policy has fostered the continuation of “frozen cultures”.

Suggestions for Action ~ “Top priority was given to community-based approaches to education about the rights of children, as well as school-based education. Community programming can create safe spaces for dialogue between young people, parents, and community leaders on these matters”.

Children in the Refugee and Immigration System

Discussion of Issues ~ “Canada lacks a clear policy framework to protect the best interests of children who are unaccompanied asylum seekers, in spite of recommendations for this from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2003 and in the 2007 Senate Report on children’s rights …Trafficking of children is a growing concern; it is important to consider differences between children and adults and include the BIC in the development of strategies to prevent trafficking, prosecute traffickers, and provide services to victims”.

Suggestions for Action ~ “Make the BIC and the Convention part of Canadian law to protect the rights of children in all policies and programmes for refugees and immigrants…Give special attention to children in the development of strategies to prevent trafficking, and consider the BIC in provision of services to victims and prosecution of traffickers”.

Early Childhood Learning and Care

Discussion of Issues ~ “Social science research has documented that supporting families with affordable, high quality options for early child learning and care has benefits for child development and for the social and economic well-being of communities. Yet Canada does not have a national policy framework for early childhood education and well-being; provincial policies vary widely, resulting in equity for children across Canada; and funding for services in support of early child development is inadequate”.

Suggestions for Action ~ “National leadership is needed to develop a deeper understanding and vision for child development and the purpose of education in Canada, based on giving priority to the BIC. This would include greater awareness of how children learn to belong and contribute to the community, developing early notions of what it means to be citizens in Canada”.

Related resources:

Child migrant workers, in their own words

The Development Research Centre on Migration, Globalisation and Poverty (Migration DRC) examines the lived experiences of children who migrate to countries to seek work – from their perspective. The report finds a “significant gap between how children see their own experiences of migration and the way that child migrants are often represented”. See Voices of Child Migrants: A Better Understanding of How Life Is.

Related resource: The Migration DRC Child Migration Research Network, a site with research and resources on child migration, unaccompanied children and child refugee issues.

Everybody’s children, Toronto film event

CERIS (Joint Centre of Excellence for Research in Immigration Studies) hosts a screening of the National Film Board documentary, Everybody’s Children (directed by Monika Delmos, produced by Anita Lee) on Friday, May 29/09, 12pm-2pm at the CERIS office in Toronto.

From the flyer: A year in the lives of two African youth seeking asylum in Ontario arrive under age and alone, often traumatized and seeking asylum in a country completely alien to their own. … these unaccompanied refugee minors have surprisingly no government system in place for their care after arriving. This documentary is a cinematic portrait of a year in the life.

Dr. Francis Hare, CERIS Domain Leader, Family, Children and Youth, will moderate a forum on unaccompanied children with Anne Woolger-Bell, Matthew House. 

RSVP to ceris.reception@utoronto.ca or call 416-946-3110.

‘Waiting for my children’ art exhibit

Settlement Arts, a new Toronto-based organization established to raise awareness and increase education on immigration and settlement issues presents their first exhibit “Waiting for My Children”, a collaboration between Curator Lisa Wyndels, Photographer Anna  Hill and Editor, Sally Dundas.

From the description:

There are parents in our community who are forced to wait for many years to be joined by their children, after they first arrived in Canada as immigrants or refugees.

The impact of the separation of children from parents is profound, and increasingly so as the period of waiting becomes prolonged.  A period of separation of many years creates risks of children being exposed to multiple harms, including severe psychological damage. We know of instances of depression, suicide attempt, and even death.  Children who arrive in Canada after years of separation from a parent are often at real risk of not integrating well, either into family or into society.

The show runs from May 13-23 at 1080 Queen St. W. For more info, visit the website.