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

~

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

Children’s books about immigration and refugees, part IV

 

 

 

 

 

Always popular on immigrantchildren.ca, there’s a new addition to the Children’s books about immigration postings. Today, adding a link to Romper’s article “10 Children’s Books About Immigration & Refugees That Teach The Importance Of Cultural Diversity”, with thanks.

From the immigrantchildren.ca archives (with apologies for wonky formatting when the new site converted old content):

Children’s books about immigration I

Children’s books about immigration II

Children’s books about immigration III

Happy reading!

Sessions on immigrant/refugee children at the International Metropolis conference

This year’s theme for the International Metropolis conference is Migration and Global Justice.

immigrantchildren.ca has reviewed the program (to date) and have found what looks to be a fascinating workshop about children’s sense of belonging and play.

From the conference website, this description of the workshop (links added):

Integration and social belonging through play

“As migration presents a long-term, multi-faceted process of finding belonging, it presents a unique opportunity to address innovative methods for supporting immigrant and refugee children as they integrate into their new communities. By creating an environment of play – focusing on recreation and arts-based methodologies – it is possible to successfully support social, emotional, linguistic, physical, and cultural integration. Settlement has traditionally focused on the immediacy of physical basic needs, with interventions that did not necessarily place enough emphasis on the emotional needs of the whole resettlement journey. Over the last 20 years, research and practice, have proven the value of not only considering, but incorporating, arts based interventions and pro-social recreational opportunities that contribute to whole family wellness and children’s wellbeing. According to the International Play Association‘s Declaration on the Importance of Play: ‘playing is vital to the understanding, development, and maintenance of valued relationships with others. Playful interactions ‘help in understanding relationships and attachment, language, roles, and social structures.’

“It is these principles that also guide the idea that children should be considered with their own agency, capable of developing social capital in their own right, not only in relation to adults: ‘ the social capital of children in often ‘invisible’. Further, it is often seen as an ‘asset’ for future benefit, not something ‘in their lives in the present’ (Colbert, 2013). A pro social, experiential, approach to programming could employ a culturally competent and trauma informed approach to learning and development that draws on the participants innate resilience in a time of significant adjustment and resettlement.

“It has been our experience that play promotes normalcy, healing, and healthy behavioral development – as well as supports the complex process on integration into a new community following a period of crisis, trauma, or forced migration. This workshop will speak to the approaches used towards establishing a range of partnerships in order to engage children and youth in the local community, culture, and language through various forms of play, while remaining sensitive to culture and background”.

Organizer:
Fariborz Birjandian, Calgary Catholic Immigration Society (CCIS)

Presenters:
Amanda Koyama, Calgary Catholic Immigration Society (CCIS)

Shaun Jayachandran, Crossover Basketball and Scholar’s Academy
(To be confirmed).

Yo Cuento: Latin American immigrant children tell their stories

How (well) do immigrant children adjust to new shores? Researcher Monica Valencia, Ryerson University, asked a group of children to answer the question through drawings.

She found that there were 4 themes in the children’s drawings:

  1. Sadness (leaving behind family, friends, neighbourhood)
  2. Anxiety (unfamiliar, sometimes hostile environment)
  3. Frustration (so much new to learn! Language, customs)
  4. Gratitude for friendship (peer support critical to happy integration).

Read more about this research in a 2014 article written by The Toronto Star’s immigration reporter, Nicholas Keung,

See more immigration related stories by Keung here.