Four questions for … Waterloo Region Immigration Partnership Council Member Dr. Elif Günçe

I asked Council Member, Immigration Partnership Waterloo Region Dr. Elif Günçe:

What’s the effect of racism, discrimination, and stereotyping on newcomer children (birth to age eight)?

They either become introvert or they learn to hate very early. But racism and stereotyping can exist in both parties. This fact is mostly overlooked. Children can learn to hate within their own family if the parents transfer their learned anger and hatred to them. And as the families try to keep their cultural identity, children are exposed to a new culture outside the family and if the family or the community at large is not supportive, they may end up in a limbo where they feel that they belong neither here nor there.

There’s much discussion on integration of immigrants. What kinds of services or supports do newcomer children need to successfully integrate in Canada?

Children need to be with their peers in the host community as much as possible and as soon as possible. I do not support their segregation within their own communities because of barriers made up in adults’ minds such as the language barrier. There is no language barrier for children! They may not know the language yet but they will learn it quickly if we do not impose ‘our’ barriers to them.

If you could influence the federal minister of citizenship, refugees, and immigration to do one thing for newcomer children, what would it be?

Create safe spaces for children where they can explore their new environment, like summer camps. But do not separate newcomer children from other children. All children of Canada (Aboriginal children, children who were born in Canada, children who recently immigrated) need to be together. They will be each other’s best support systems.

What is one of your favourite children’s books that you would recommend for newcomer children? Why?

I will not recommend a book but I will recommend this: Take the children to libraries, let them explore the world of books and the world’s books. Most newcomer children may have not seen a library in their life, neither have their parents. And libraries may become the best shelter for newcomer children.

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Dr. Elif Gunce is a Council Member with the Immigration Partnership, Waterloo Region , an Adjunct Assistant Professor at UWO Centre for Transitional Justice and Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Adjunct Professor at the University of Western Ontario Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry and Instructor at McMaster University FHS Global Health MSc Program.

Elif blogs at Look How Small the World Is. Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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immigrantchildren.ca is asking Canadian experts and advocates in immigration, settlement, refugees, and newcomers about their views on newcomer children (birth to age eight). For more interviews, see here.

Four questions for … immigration policy expert Andrew Griffith

I asked Andrew Griffith:

What’s the effect of racism, discrimination, and stereotyping on newcomer children?

From what I see, and some of the points made by activists, academics and some policy initiatives, is the risk of low expectations and not necessarily pushing and encouraging children to fulfill and develop their potential. This issue has been raised in particular by members of the Black communities. It seems to be less of an issue for other communities given their high levels of post-secondary education compared to non-visible minorities. The overall risk of alienation remains but in general the Canadian school system appears to be doing a relatively good job on integration.

There’s much discussion on integration of immigrants. What kinds of services or supports do newcomer children need to successfully integrate in Canada?

For newcomer children, I think the main place integration occurs is through the public school systems. Given that family members in some communities provide childcare, there may be a need for additional ESL support in early years. For parents who opt for private faith-based schooling, there may be further integration challenges. There remain challenges in determining what is reasonable and what is not reasonable accommodation, as excessive accommodation can undermine integration efforts (e.g., sex ed debates in Ontario).

If you could influence the federal minister of citizenship, refugees, and immigration to do one thing for newcomer children, what would it be?

Talk to teachers, educators and CMEC and others to assess gaps (apart from funding!). But this issue is more appropriately dealt with at the local and provincial levels than federal.

What is one of your favourite children’s books that you would recommend for newcomer children? Why?

Too far removed from the days our kids were small and we would read to them and encourage them to read. Obviously, books that highlight a range of communities/identities should be part of the mix.

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Andrew Griffith is the former Director General – Citizenship and Multiculturalism Branch, Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Andrew led policy and program development to strengthen citizenship, inclusion and participation, and intercultural understanding.

He is a fellow of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.

Andrew is the author of several books, including Multiculturalism in Canada: Evidence and Anecdote, providing an integrated view of how well multiculturalism is working, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias: Resetting Citizenship and Multiculturalism, describing the relationship between the bureaucratic and political levels. Andrew comments on citizenship, multiculturalism and related issues, in his blog and the media.

 

 

 

 

Follow Andrew on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn and learn more about his books.

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immigrantchildren.ca is asking Canadian experts and advocates in immigration, settlement, refugees, and newcomers about their views on newcomer children (birth to age eight). For more interviews, see here.

Here’s to never forgetting home

“Here’s to the security guards who maybe had a degree in another land. Here’s to the manicurist who had to leave her family to come here, painting the nails, scrubbing the feet of strangers. Here’s to the janitors who don’t understand English yet work hard despite it all. Here’s to the fast food workers who work hard to see their family smile. Here’s to the laundry man at the Marriott who told me with the sparkle in his eyes how he was an engineer in Peru. Here’s to the bus driver, the Turkish Sufi who almost danced when I quoted Rumi. Here’s to the harvesters who live in fear of being deported for coming here to open the road for their future generation. Here’s to the taxi drivers from Nigeria, Ghana, Egypt and India who gossip amongst themselves. Here is to them waking up at 4am, calling home to hear the voices of their loved ones. Here is to their children, to the children who despite it all become artists, writers, teachers, doctors, lawyers, activists and rebels. Here’s to international money transfer. For never forgetting home. Here’s to their children who carry the heartbeats of their motherland and even in sleep, speak with pride about their fathers. Keep on.”

Ijeoma Umebinyuo, Questions for Ada

The Conference Board of Canada: An Innovative immigration system at 150 and beyond

The Conference Board of Canada recently released a report following their Canadian Immigration Summit, 2017. Titled “An Innovative Immigration System at 150 and Beyond”, it includes a summary of the summit, key findings, and recommendations to “improve settlement, integration, and citizenship policies”.

There’s lots of good stuff here, including identifying initiatives that work, or are promising, and solid recommendations from those in the fields of immigration and settlement, integration, and immigrant employment.

The federal governments’ department of immigration, refugees, and citizenship Fraser Valentine flags three keys for successful immigration:

  1. targeted immigration to meet Canada’s goals
  2. positive integration so that immigrants are welcomed into Canadian society
  3. strong public support for the immigration system.

Ilse Treurnicht, MaRS Discovery District suggests that Canada work to strengthen ‘the immigration-innovation nexus’ by:

  • retaining more international students
  • equipping cities to receive immigrants
  • creating a “comprehensive approach for immigrants to contribute to the economy to leverage their global connections, cultural competencies, knowledge and experiences”
  • having greater alignment between immigration and innovation, technology and education systems
  • demonstrating that immigration benefits Canada economically, and that the business community must champion this, and not leave this to politicians and policy makers alone.

Yes, good stuff, but in the above examples – and others in the report – of how to support immigrant employment, there is no mention of providing child care so that newcomers can participate in training and jobs initiatives. If they have children younger than school-age, child care is an issue.

Number 2 of IRCs Fraser Valentine’s 3 keys to success is “positive integration so that immigrants are welcomed into Canadian society”.  Having a safe, high quality child care program for your children while you work, train or study is a strong welcome to newcomers. It says we care about you, we see you as a whole person, with a family and not just as a worker.

Treurnicht’s call that cities be equipped to receive immigrants should mean receiving the newcomers entire family, including its non-school-aged children.

The Conference Board of Canada says: “Canada needs to identify how to better integrate immigrants in the labour market by continuing to strengthen the linkage between the immigrant selection process and its labour market needs…” I invite them to look at Canada’s labour market needs against its resources, and how to strengthen those resources.

The Conference Board of Canada missed an opportunity to highlight the importance of child care for immigrant employment and the Canadian economy. Next year’s summit?

 

 

Four questions for … author and storyteller Rukhsana Khan

I asked Ruhksana Khan:

What’s the effect of racism, discrimination, and stereotyping on newcomer children?

They suffer. Feeling like they’re less. I’m not sure if there’s much the host country can do to change this. It comes down to people valuing personal character above possessions and that kind of goes against human nature. We tend to get impressed by fancy things.

There’s much discussion on integration of immigrants. What kinds of services or supports do newcomer children need to successfully integrate in Canada?

I think it would be good to get students to partner up with the newcomer students so that they might feel less lonely and isolated. The local students could learn about where the newcomers are coming from, and read Coming to Canada to gain empathy of how difficult it would be to uproot oneself.

They can also take a look at my book Big Red Lollipop which deals tangentially with assimilation as it’s a story of a family that’s new to North America and the idea of only the invited child going to birthday parties.

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you could influence the federal minister of citizenship, refugees, and immigration to do one thing for newcomer children, what would it be?

Find ways in which newcomers can contribute to the host country as soon as possible. I think it needs to be a two-way street. Newcomers have to feel as though they’re not beholden, that they’re making a contribution towards bettering Canada so the ‘charity’ isn’t going only one way.

What is one of your favourite children’s books that you would recommend for newcomer children? Why?

My book Coming to Canada is used by the Settlement Workers in the Schools program to help newcomers adjust to life in Canada. I would recommend it. I think it contains realistic expectations and I focused on the resources that make Canada such an amazing country like the library and education systems.

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Rukhsana Khan is an award-winning author and storyteller. She was born in Lahore, Pakistan and immigrated to Canada at the age of three.

She grew up in a small town in southern Ontario and was ruthlessly bullied. When a grade eight teacher told her she was a writer, she thought the idea was crazy. Writers were white people. They were from England and America.

To be ‘sensible’ she graduated from college at the top of her class as a biological-chemical technician. When she couldn’t get a decent job she decided to be ‘unsensible’ and become a writer. It took eight years to get her first book published. Now she has twelve books published (one of which was chosen by the New York Public Library as one of the 100 greatest children’s books in the last 100 years).

Rukhsana Khan’s website & YouTube channel

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immigrantchildren.ca is asking Canadian experts and advocates in immigration, settlement, refugees, and newcomers about their views on newcomer children (birth to age eight). For more interviews, see here.

The Star: #cdnimm children face financial barriers to citizenship

Nicholas Keung, immigration reporter for the Toronto Star, reports on  recent changes to the citizenship act that allow children, 18 years and younger, to apply for citizenship apart from their parent(s). However the fee is over $500. Previous policy saw parents applying on behalf of their children at a fee closer to $100.

Andrew Griffith‘s take:

“It was likely driven by somebody thinking bureaucratically without thinking about the policy’s intent to make it easier for minors to become citizens independently.

“That’s a lot of money, particularly for this vulnerable population. The government has removed the legal barrier to citizenship for them but has now set up a new financial barrier. Theoretically, more young people could become citizens. In practice, they will find it a lot harder.”

Read the entire story here.

Mosaic Institute names new Executive Director

The Mosaic Institute is a ‘think and do’ tank, based in Toronto, which aims to break down racism through dialogue and action.

Today, the Mosaic Institute named its new Executive Director.  From the email blast:

“The Mosaic Institute announces the retirement of Bernie Farber. Bernie has brought his dynamism and understanding of diverse communities together to the Mosaic Institute during his tenure as Executive Director, Vahan Kololian Chair of the Board. We will miss him but understand and respect his desire to move to the next stage of his life.  We are very pleased that he has agreed to remain part of our family as a member of our Advisory Council, Kololian ncluded.

“Bernie has had a long and successful career, starting as a social worker in Ottawa, and moving into leadership roles of various human and civil rights organizations.  These roles included being CEO of the Canadian Jewish Congress from 2005 to 2011.  Bernie then went on to the leadership of the Paloma Foundation addressing social issues of the homeless in Toronto.

“Bernie joined the Mosaic team in 2015 where he has helped guide the organization, raising its profile, and bringing his considerable expertise in helping to engage Canada’s diverse communities within the Mosaic family.

“Under his tenure Mosaic continued its seminal work on university campuses through its University of Mosaic initiatives funded by BMO as well as its award winning Next Generation High school global citizenship program funded through the RBC Foundation.

“During his two years at the helm, Bernie established the Mosaic in conversation program that brought together hundreds of individuals to discuss issues from First Nations reconciliation to the dangers of racism and xenophobia in a new world order. He helped steer Mosaic Institute signature fundraising event, its Peace Patron Dinner, one of the most highly anticipated occasions of the spring, ensuring unprecedented sold-out crowds over the last two years, while recognizing outstanding Canadians who exemplify the values of the Institute.

“As Bernie steps down, the Mosaic Institute welcomes Dr. Pamela Divinsky as its new Executive Director. Pamela and Bernie have commenced the transition process. Pamela’s official commencement date is October 1.

“Born and raised in Vancouver, Pamela has been the lead partner of The Divinsky Group which develops and implements strategies for corporations and NGOs that achieve organizational results and positive social impact. …

“Pamela has been responsible for developing initiatives that have combated child poverty, created policy change on numerous health and social issues sparking local community activism.

“Pamela brings a new and exciting skill set to the Mosaic Institute, noted Chair Vahan Kololian. Her years of experience in both the business and social service sector will bring an added and necessary dimension to our work. Her commitment to a progressive social value system complimented by her academic and corporate acumen is embraced by the Mosaic Institute as we move forward. We heartily welcome Pamela as our New Executive Director”.

Teaching children about race, racism, and racial literacy

Taken from a piece on racial bias and children from US-based embracerace.org

How to teach children about racial and cultural literacy

“1. Start early. Let your child know that it’s perfectly okay to notice skin color and talk about race. Encourage her to ask questions, share observations and experiences, and be respectfully curious about race.

2. Realize that you are a role model to your child. What you say is important, but what you do, how diverse your circle of friends is, for example, will probably have an even bigger impact on your child. If he doesn’t attend a diverse school, if you’re able, consider enrolling him in activities such as sports leagues that are diverse. Choose books, toys, and movies that include people of different races and ethnicities. Visit museums with exhibits about a range of cultures and religions.

3. Let your child see you face your own biases. We’re less likely to pass on the biases we identify and work to overcome. Give your child an example of a bias, racial or otherwise, that you hold or have held. Share with your child things you do to confront and overcome that bias.

4. Know and love who you are. Talk about the histories and experiences of the racial, ethnic, and cultural groups you and your family strongly identify with. Talk about their contributions and acknowledge the less flattering parts of those histories as well. Tell stories about the challenges your family, your child’s parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents and great grandparents, others, has faced and overcome.

5. Develop racial cultural literacy by learning about and respecting others. Study and talk about the histories and experiences of groups we call African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, Native Americans, and Whites, among others. Be sure your child understands that every racial and ethnic group includes people who believe different things and behave in different ways. There is more diversity within racial groups than across them.

6. Be honest with your child, in age-appropriate ways, about bigotry and oppression. Children are amazing at noticing patterns, including racial patterns (who lives in their neighborhood versus their friends’ neighborhoods, for example). Help them make sense of those patterns, and recognize that bigotry and oppression are sometimes a big part of those explanations. Be sure your child knows that the struggle for racial fairness is still happening and that your family can take part in that struggle.

7. Tell stories of resistance and resilience. Every big story of racial oppression is also a story about people fighting back and “speaking truth to power.” Teach your child those parts of the story too. Include women, children and young adults among the “freedom fighters” in the stories you tell.

8. Teach your children to be “upstanders” for racial justice. Help your child understand what it means to be, and how to be, a change agent. Whenever possible, connect the conversations you’re having to the change you and your child want to see, and to ways to bring about that change.

9. Plan for a marathon, not a sprint. Make race talks with your child routine. Race is a topic you should plan to revisit again and again in many different ways over time. It’s okay to say, “I’m not sure” or “Let’s come back to that later, okay?” But then be sure to come back to it”.

6 Degrees junior fellowship opportunity

Apply now for a 6 Degrees Junior Fellowship

From a 6 Degrees email blast: “Submit a project and foster inclusion in your community

  • What: Become a 6 Degrees Junior Fellow or spread the word to strong candidates in your network
  • Who: Ten changemakers under 30 years old will be selected from around the world based on how they propose to foster inclusion in their community
  • When: Submit your application by August 14, 2017 to work on a project between September, 2017 and March, 2018.
  • How: Submit your application here, or read more about the fellowship here.

“One of 6 Degrees’ signature initiatives is the 6 Degrees Junior Fellowship program, which seeks to identify and support young leaders who have made a commitment to fostering inclusion in their communities. The fellowship begins in September with a funded trip to Toronto to attend 6 Degrees Citizen Space (Sept. 25-27), followed by 6 months of ongoing project engagement with 6 Degrees staff.

“Fellows will benefit from the following:
An Inclusive Pass to all sessions of 6 Degrees Citizen Space, Sept. 25-27, 2017
Free travel and accommodation expenses to attend 6 Degrees Citizen Space
Connect with 10+ other Junior Fellows to discuss, explore and reflect on various themes of inclusion and citizenship
Benefit from extensive mentoring and networking opportunities
Receive a $2,000 grant to fund their community-building project

Are you eligible?
“This program is designed to support emerging leaders and their projects, therefore we invite applications from individuals under the age of 30.
“If you are not eligible, we encourage you to pass this onto others who are eligible or who have access to a network of bright, engaged youth.
The deadline for applications is Monday, August 14, 2017. Early applications are encouraged. Apply now!”

Child trafficking: Canada’s historical shame

July 30th marks World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. The office of the Status of Women, Government of Canada retweeted about it, as did many others, raising awareness of the devastation committed against trafficked persons, many of them children, most of them female.


  RT According to , women & girls represent 71% of victims. Modern slavery is real, we must

 

 

 

 

From 1869 to 1932, Canada participated in a child emigration scheme hatched in the UK which saw more than 100,000 children brought into the country for labour, mostly domestic work for girls and farm work for boys. These children were not orphaned, as many were lead to believe. Their crime, or the crime of their parents, is that they were poor. The governments of the United Kingdom and Canada entered into an agreement to remove these children, often right off the street, ship them to Canada and send them to Canadians who needed an “extra hand”. Surviving ‘home children’ and their descendants tell stories of physical and sexual abuse by their ‘host families’.

The British Home Children scheme was state-sanctioned child trafficking. And despite efforts of many, and an acknowledgement from the House of Commons, the Prime Minister of Canada has not issued a formal apology for this atrocity.

Read more about the British Home Children.

July 30th ~ World Day Against Trafficking in Persons

Sunday July 30th is World Day Against Trafficking in Persons ~ a few links with information, resources, and how you can help, with a special focus on the campaign of Save The Children

Save the Children
Child trafficking is a crime that exploits girls and boys for numerous purposes including forced labor and sex. Because child trafficking is lucrative and often linked with criminal activity and corruption, it is hard to estimate how many children suffer, but trafficking and exploitation is an increasing risk to children around the world. When human trafficking occurs, children are often trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation or for labor such as domestic servitude, agricultural work, factory work, mining or are forced to fight in conflicts”.

Some facts:

  • Human trafficking is a crime that exploits children.
  • Every country in the world is affected by human trafficking.
  • 98% of sexually abused survivors are women and children.
  • 168 million children are victims of forced labor.

Join Save the Children’s campaign to end girl child trafficking #ShesNotForSale

International Organization for Migration
“IOM works with governments, the private sector, civil society organizations, and other UN agencies to protect victims of trafficking and associated forms of exploitation and abuse; to prevent such abuses from occurring; and to support the development and implementation of policies aimed at the prevention and prosecution of these crimes and the protection of victims”. #EndHumanTrafficking

 

 

 

 

 

 

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
“On the 2017 World Day against Trafficking in Persons, UNODC calls on all to ‘act to protect and assist trafficked persons’. This topic highlights one of the most pressing issues of our time — the large mixed migration movements of refugees and migrants. The theme puts the spotlight on the significant impact of conflict and natural disasters, as well as the resultant, multiple risks of human trafficking that many people face. It addresses the key issue concerning trafficking responses: that most people are never identified as trafficking victims and therefore cannot access most of the assistance or protection provided”.

You can help! On July 30th, support a 24-hour crowd-funding campaign: United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Human Trafficking