Immigration & Diversity news headlines – December 13, 2011


DiverseCity onBoard receives United Nations Intercultural Innovation Award (DiverseCity Toronto)
At the fourth UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) Forum in Doha, the DiverseCity onBoard project won second prize in the Intercultural Innovation Awards. OnBoard was chosen from over 400 proposals from 70 countries considered for the award.

How Diversity Leads to Economic Growth (Richard Florida, Atlantic Cities)
An important new study by economists Quamrul Ashraf of Williams College and Oded Galor of Brown University should help put many of the skeptics’ claims to rest. “Cultural Diversity, Geographical Isolation and the Origin of the Wealth of Nations,” recently released as a working paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research, charts the role of geographic isolation, proximity and cultural diversity on economic development from pre-industrial times to the modern era. It finds that “the interplay between cultural assimilation and cultural diffusion have played a significant role in giving rise to differential patterns of economic development across the globe.” To put it in plain English: diversity spurs economic development and homogeneity slows it down.

Muslim women win – New rule shows sexual equality is non-negotiable in Canada (Ezra Levant, Toronto Sun)
Canadas new rules forbidding women from wearing Muslim veils while being sworn in as citizens is such an obvious amendment that not even the opposition parties can muster their disapproval. Certainly not the far-left NDP. There are few special interest groups that the NDP wouldnt favour over our own Canadian culture. But todays NDP is first and foremost a populist party of Quebec. And that is the province most frustrated with the ever-expanding definition of reasonable accommodation.

Mixed reaction from Calgary’s Islamic community at niqab ruling (Meghan Potkins, Calgary Herald)
It was a happy day, joyful even- nothing like Monday when Tariq learned that from now on Muslim women who observe the custom of wearing a face-covering, like the niqab, will be required to remove it before taking the oath of citizenship. “It was really depressing to hear this news,” said Tariq, president of the Islamic Association of Canadian Women. “If a woman wants citizenship she must take off her niqab – but if she takes off her niqab, she is violating her (beliefs).”

Government has no right to dictate what women wear (Paula Simons, Edmontonjournal)
Jason Kenney is supposed to be Canadas Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. But this week, hes established a new role for himself, as national fashion arbitrator, star of his very own version of What Not to Wear. On Monday, the Calgary MP issued an official fashion decree, banning an orthodox Muslim woman who wears a niqab or a burka from taking the oath of Canadian citizenship unless she uncovers her face in front of the judge. Ostensibly, thats so that citizenship court judges can visually check to ensure that women are actually repeating the words of the oath aloud.

On the banning of face veils: The Canadian Immigration Ministers divisive speech (The Ethnic Aisle)
Today our government is placing a ban on face coverings (such as niqabs) for people swearing their oath of citizenship. Immigration Minister Jason Kenneys speech.

Speaking notes for The Honourable Jason Kenney, P.C., M.P. Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism (CIC)
I have received complaints recently from members of Parliament, from citizenship judges and from participants in citizenship ceremonies themselves that it is hard to ensure that individuals whose faces are covered are actually reciting the oath. Requiring that all candidates show their face while reciting the oath enables judgesand everyone presentto share in the ceremony and to ensure that all citizenship candidates are in fact reciting the oath as required by law. This is not simply a technical or practical measurefar from it. It is a matter of deep principle that goes to the heart of our identity and our values of openness and equality. The citizenship oath is a quintessentially public act. It is a public declaration that you are joining the Canadian family, and it must be taken freely and openlynot with faces hidden.

The Muslim headdress debate around the world (CBC)
Seen by some as a mark of religious freedom and others as an insult to womens equality, the wearing of Muslim headdress like the niqab or the burka in public has stirred controversy in Canada as well as other Western nations. Heres a look at how the issue has played out in various jurisdictions.

Burqa ban: No more face-covering when new Canadians take oath of citizenship (Washington Post)
New Canadian citizens must remove any face coverings, such as the Islamic niqab or burqa, while they take the oath of citizenship, the countrys immigration minister said Monday. Jason Kenney said most Canadians have misgivings about Islamic face coverings and said new Canadians should take the oath in view of their fellow citizens. He said he has received complaints from lawmakers and citizenship judges who say its difficult to ensure that individuals whose faces are covered are actually reciting the oath.

Face veil ban so discriminatory it’s unbelievable: Muslim advocate (Paul Turenne, Winnipeg Sun)
One of Canadas best-known advocates for Muslim women said shes flabbergasted with the federal governments decision to force all women to show their face during citizenship ceremonies. Shahina Siddiqui, executive director of the Winnipeg-based Islamic Social Services Association, said she could hardly believe her eyes when she read the news Monday morning.

Burqas banned at citizenship ceremony (Marks Dunn, London Free Press)
If Muslim women feel uncomfortable about taking off their niqabs to swear allegiance to Canada, then maybe they picked the wrong country to call home, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says. QMI Agency reported Monday that new regulations require Muslims to unveil themselves of niqabs and burkas to obtain citizenship

Face veils banned for citizenship oaths (Laura Payton, CBC News)
A directive posted on the department’s website says if candidates aren’t seen taking the oath, officials are to explain that they must be seen reciting it, and that they can’t become Canadian citizens without it. They can return for the next citizenship ceremony, but “the opportunity to return to take the oath at another citizenship ceremony applies only once,” the directive says. Women who choose not to remove their face coverings can remain permanent residents, Kenney told CBC’s Evan Solomon, host of Power & Politics. The citizenship oath is the last step before going from permanent residency to citizenship. Permanent residents can live in Canada but can’t vote or run for office.

New niqab law puts Canadian values first (Barbara Kay, National Post)
As part of a wider circle of reforms in his department, Citizenship and Immigration minister Jason Kenney has announced a regulation requiring Muslim women who observe the custom of wearing the niqab to remove it before taking the oath of citizenship, the final step in becoming fully Canadian. According to the new rule, the judge must see her face as she takes the oath, but she can replace the face cover afterwards. Women with face cover will receive two warnings before being refused the oath. On her arrival, a department official will explain the new regulation. If the woman does not comply, the judge will inform her that she cannot say the oath with her face covered. If she again refuses, the judge will request that she leave.

Is the banning of veils at citizenship oath ceremonies really necessary? (Globe and Mail editorial)
But Mr. Kenney is right. The oath of citizenship an oath to the Queen and her successors, and to obey the laws of Canada, and fulfill the duties of being a citizen should be taken seriously. Does the face need to be bare to demonstrate seriousness? Mr. Kenney says that to be seen, and not to be covered, is in keeping with Canadian values. True, but protection of religious expression, as long as it causes no direct harm to the vulnerable, is also a Canadian value. Its hard to understand why the Crown would insist on depriving an individual of her religious garb as a condition of taking an oath. The honour of the Crown rests in part on the protection of minorities.

Show your face for citizenship (Edmonton Sun editorial)
It is a bold move by Immigration Minister Jason Kenney to use his independent authority to demand all new citizens swear an oath of allegiance to this country with their faces in full view. No burkas. No niqabs. No masks of any kind. And no exceptions.

SourceDocWatch: CIC operational bulletin on “full and partial face coverings” at citizenship ceremonies (Kady O’Malley, CBC)
Text of Operational Bulletin 359 -December 12, 2011 from CIC. Requirements for candidates to be seen taking the Oath of Citizenship at a ceremony and procedures for candidates with full or partial face coverings.

Official link –

National Post editorial board: Tories make citizenship mean something (National Post)
Canadians are generous people, but have no tolerance or patience for people who dont play by the rules and who lie or cheat to become a Canadian citizen. The government will apply the full strength of Canadian law to those who have obtained citizenship fraudulently. With those blunt words, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced on Friday that his department and the RCMP have gathered evidence on as many as 6,500 new citizens or permanent residents who acquired their immigration status fraudulently. Mr. Kenney intends to strip them of their status and deport them, if they are still in the country.

Changing Attitudes (CBC Metro Morning)
Matt Galloway spoke about the challenges of persuading abusive men to change their behavior, with Baldev Mutta. He is one of the leaders of the “Sahara Mens Group Program” , operated by Punjabi Community Health Services.

Is Canada becoming more conservative? Dont believe it (Dan Gardner, The Ottawa Citizen)
Since 1994, the Environics Institute has been tracking what Canadians say are their spending priorities for the federal government. The most recent data are from 2010. Over that entire time, across 21 categories, Canadians views have changed very little… Since 1997, Environics has also asked Canadians about the importance of certain symbols. Again, theres little change up to 2010. And to the extent that there is change it is not in a conservative direction. In 1997, 37 per cent said bilingualism is a very important Canadian symbol; in 2010, that had risen to 46 per cent. Support for multiculturalism as a Canadian symbol went from 49 to 56 per cent. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms went from 72 to 78 per cent. Even the CBC went from 39 to 42 per cent.

Canadian Passports Are Not for Sale (Georgialee Lang,
Our governments crackdown on immigration fraud represents an important move designed to ensure fairness for all immigrants to Canada. Why should those immigrants who flout the rules of admission be entitled to a Canadian passport, one of the most desirable travel authorizations in the world. The Harper government says they should not and have their sights on 2,100 people who have obtained citizenship through fraudulent means, while 4,400 more are suspected of ignoring the residency rules that accompany permanent residence status or citizenship.

ANALYSIS | Ethnic communities clash over ‘honour’ (Nahlah Ayed, CBC)
Social workers say her story is not unique in Canada, where a growing clash over honour is pitting parents who adhere to traditional cultural or religious practices against daughters raised in this country. “Honour killing” is just one tragically dark manifestation of an obsession with honour that exists within a number of religious and ethnic communities. Experts on honour killings, such as Amin Muhammed from Memorial University in St. John’s, say the phenomenon is distinct from domestic violence because it is often planned well in advance and involves more than one family member and the victim, who is, in most cases, a young woman believed to have strayed from family, cultural or religious codes.

London Olympics Diversity Expert coming to Toronto to speak at Diversity Conference (Stephen Weir)
The keynote speaker will be Stephen Frost, Head of Diversity and Inclusion for London 2012, the organizing body for the upcoming Olympic Games. He will be joined by speakers from RBC and other leading executives from the public and private sector across North America who will talk about how they are addressing diversity in their procurement strategies. Breakout themed sessions will focus on how companies and organizations can transform their business practices through understanding, implementing and measuring supplier diversity.

Tamil foundation loses charity status (Michael Woods, Toronto Star)
The federal government revoked a Toronto-area Tamil foundations charitable status over the weekend, saying it provided financial support for groups that are part of the support network for the Tamil Tigers. According to a Canada Revenue Agency audit, the Canadian Foundation for Tamil Refugee Rehabilitation (CAFTARR) provided more than $700,000 to organizations outside Canada that were non-qualified donees.–tamil-foundation-loses-charity-status

A novel idea (Omar Mosleh, Vaughan Today)
Maslej has lived in Canada for nearly 30 years. She works as a librarian at Pierre Berton Resource Library in Woodbridge, has a masters degree from the University of Toronto, takes the Gardiner Expressway to work, and once regularly enjoyed Starbucks coffee until it became too expensive for her. In many ways, Maslej is your average Canadian except for one difference. She speaks with an accent. An accent is my hijab, Maslej says bluntly while seated at Maple Public Library. Originally from Poland, her accent is not overly pronounced.

Ethnic and national origins in Calgary neighbourhoods (Calgary Herald)
The data below is based on the way Calgarians described their origin or ethnicity on the 2006 federal census.

Migration tensions down to politicians and media, says report (The Guardian)
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM), focusing on the importance of communicating more effectively about migration in its world migration report 2011, released on 6 December, notes that such attitudes stem in part from misinformation and misperceptions about migration that have been fuelled by opportunistic politicians and poor media reporting. During periods of economic recession, national debates on migration issues are often politicised, and evidence of the economic benefits that migration can bring is ignored in favour of assumptions that migrants are fuelling unemployment and draining public resources.

The Need to Be Proactive: Responses to Domestic Violences in Muslim Communities (MuslimahMediaWatch)
On November 15, 2011, a number of Canadian Muslim leaders and organizations issued a press release condemning domestic violence and honor killings. This press release was backed up by over 50 Muslim organizations, and the Canadian Council of Imams called on imams around Canada to dedicate a khutba on December 9 to issues of domestic violence (you can watch a video of some of the December 9 coverage here). Yet, to some extent, the sudden attention to domestic violence and honor killings seems to respond to the media coverage and ongoing trial of the Shafia case.


Refugee builds new life in Canada (Tara Carman, Vancouver Sun)
Holy Moyo would most certainly have been dead a long time ago had Canada not offered him a place to call home. Three years ago, the 46-year-old HIV-positive man was accepted as a refugee from Zimbabwe, a country with almost no HIV treatment and where life expectancy is only 48. If AIDS hadn’t killed him, the former police officer would have likely fallen victim to Robert Mugabe’s repressive government. Moyo now hopes to live to 100.

Refugees embody the hope of Christmas (Mark Hasiuk, Vancouver Courier)
Grinches and Christmas go hand in hand. But last Saturday night at John Knox Christian, a private school in Burnaby, dozens of refugees gathered in the gymnasium for an event more fantastic, more bursting with life, than any Dr. Seuss tale. They came from everywhere. From Afghanistan, Colombia, North Korea and Kosovo. White, brown and black. Young and old. Christian, Muslim and Hindu. As guests of Journey Home, a Christian non-profit based in Burnaby, they ate pumpkin pie and sang Christmas carols in a cacophony of accents and broken English. With help from Journey Home staff and volunteers, the refugee children staged a nativity play based on Luke’s Gospel about a wayward family and a precious child. That story ended in salvation, the ultimate goal for refugees. Might they find it here? Perhaps. But there’s no guarantee. Canadian refugee claims are often denied. Citizenship may take years. And then, it’s merely the end of the beginning.


A Scarborough clinic for those with no health insurance (Noor Javed, Toronto Star)
This is just one story. DAndrade has hundreds like it. Stories she has accumulated from a constant stream of patients who have been coming to the free, walk-in Community Volunteer Clinic for Medically Uninsured Immigrants and Refugees the only one like it in the GTA over the past 11 years. For almost all the patients she sees, the Scarborough clinic is their only option short of the emergency room. In most cases, they have found out about it from the signs posted at the local OHIP office. When they arrive, they are almost always immensely grateful.

Fixing the Hole in Employment Insurance: Temporary Income Assistance for the Unemployed (Michael Mendelson and Ken Battle, Caledon Institute)
Many unemployed Canadians are ineligible for Employment Insurance, so that welfare becomes their only alternative. But welfare rates are low, especially for single employable recipients. Further, applicants must exhaust their financial assets, and the paternalistic requirements of welfare are stigmatizing. As a consequence, it is difficult to bounce back from welfare into the economic mainstream. The solution most often proposed has been to loosen the rules for Employment Insurance; however, we show in this paper that many unemployed workers would still be left in the cold even if we did that. Something is needed between Employment Insurance, with its relatively higher benefits but limited reach, and welfare, to which anyone in need can apply but only for inadequate benefits. We propose a new temporary income measure to fill the gap between Employment Insurance and welfare the Jobseekers Loan.

What’s causing poverty? (Harry Maksagak, Northern News Service Online)
You may or may not have read my article on poverty, and I would just like to remind you of some of the things I wrote. You can be impoverished mentally, spiritually, physically but my main focus was on hunger. I mentioned in this article how we live in a good country, a free country and yet some of our own are in poverty. There are many who are homeless, there are many who cannot afford a place of their own and then there are those who are in overcrowded dwellings, which breeds tremendous stresses and pressure that results in poor health and a poor outlook on life in general.

NDP: Report missing voices of aboriginal women (Chris Herhalt, The Canadian Press)
A new House of Commons committee report meant to address the crisis of violence against aboriginal women ignores the testimony of most of the women it consulted, NDP members say. Committee members heard from 150 witnesses across the country. “Hundreds of pages of testimony from this committee pointed to poverty as a root cause for violence for aboriginal women,” NDP committee member Mylene Freeman said.

Poverty reduction: there’s good and bad news (Auréa Cormier, Daily Gleaner)
It’s been two years since the Liberals and Conservatives adopted the Poverty Reduction Strategy. The goal: by 2014, 25 per cent less individuals and families will be living in poverty. Based on information publicly available, I want to review key initiatives implemented from November 2009 to now.

Income inequality and the Canada We Want (Liz Weaver, Vibrant Communities)
Caledon Institute of Social Policy recently released a series of papers about income inequality prepared for Canada 2020 entitled ‘Reducing Income Disparities and Polarization’. Canada 2020 is a non-partisan, progressive centre working to create an environment of social and economic prosperity for Canada and all Canadians. You can learn more about Canada 2020 at This series of three papers by various authors, including Sherri Torjman and Ken Battle of Caledon Institute, discuss why Canadians should care about income inequality, income redistribution in Canada and the notion that inequality is not inevitable.

Submission to the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance (Sherri Torjman and Ken Battle, Caledon Institute)
This paper was submitted to the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance in response to Part 1: Amendments to the Income Tax Act and Related Regulations of Bill C-13 Keeping Canadas Economy and Jobs Growing Act. The submission focuses on three main measures in the Bill: the Family Caregiver Tax Credit, Childrens Arts Tax Credit and Gas Tax Fund. We were pleased to see recognition of caregiver needs in Bill C-13. But we do not support the design of the new measure, which will deny assistance to lower-income families and provide tax assistance to non-poor families, including the well-off. Similarly, the Childrens Arts Tax Credit, while important acknowledgement of the value of arts and cultural activities, will do nothing for lower-income families but will help the rest, including the relatively well-off. We also raise general concerns regarding tax expenditures as a means of financing social needs.

Should governments top up low wages? (Don Cayo, Vancouver Sun)
When Canadians talk about the role of government programs in alleviating poverty and easing the growing income inequality in this country, they usually focus on income replacement unemployment insurance, retirement income, disability pensions and that sort of thing. Yet more than half of the low-income households in Canada are working poor, with at least one employed member, according to a new analysis from the Caledon Institute of Social Policy. This suggests the need for federal income supplements not only a progressive income tax system, but also income supplements such as the Working Income Tax Benefit program and the Canada Child Tax Benefit as well as various provincial programs.


Webinar recording: Closing the Gap: City Leadership on Employment and Workforce Diversity (Cities of Migration)
Learn about employment strategies from two municipalities, Hamburg and Copenhagen, who have built a strong campaign and delivered results in their commitment to workforce diversity. International presenters from Hamburg and Copenhagen

3M Managers Walk in Newcomers Shoes (
To help managers better understand the experiences of immigrant employees, Sarah Tattersall, Manager of Recruitment and Talent Development at 3M in London, Ont., suggests managers take part in a quick language exercise. Managers have a five-minute conversation and every time they say a verb, they have to come up with a synonym. As Ms. Tattersall points out, this gives them an appreciation for how much work goes into a simple conversation when your first language isnt English.

Happy Means Productive (CBC Metro Morning)
Matt Galloway spoke about diversity with our business commentator Michael Hlinka.

Diversity in workplace enhances bottom line: study (Ryerson News)
The more diverse a companys workforce is, the more loyal, happy and productive its employees tend to be, according to a new study led by a Ryerson University professor. The commitment to diversity must be more than superficial, the researchers say.

Diversity in workplace enhances bottom line (
The commitment to diversity must be more than superficial, the researchers say. There are organizations that are doing what research and popular practice tells them to do. They are showing pictures of diverse workers on their website and say they have a commitment to diversity, but theyre not really going beyond what people may see as simply window dressing, said Kristyn Scott, lead author of the study, The Diverse Organization: Finding Gold at the End of the Rainbow, and a professor with Ryerson Universitys Ted Rogers School of Management. Thats contrasted with an organization that has woven diversity into every fibre of its corporate culture and business practices.

Full report (fee):

Foreign-trained workers expand Canada’s options (Gerry Macartney, London Chamber of Commerce, London Free Press)
Could there be any greater asset when trying to compete in the global marketplace than having an abundance of global experience and talent right in our own back yard? The London Chamber of Commerce, and many chambers across Ontario, feel strongly that the foreign-trained professionals and skilled immigrants we have in our communities are indeed the kind of assets we will need to grow our economy and expand our connections to a wider array of business opportunities around the world.

Canada plans to attract more skilled workers: But are there sufficient jobs for them? (Surbhi Bhatia, Indo-Canadian Voice)
Expressing his discontent with the governments announcement, Charan Gill, head of Progressive Intercultural Community Service (PICS) a not for profit organization working to help new immigrants, said, The government is playing at the hands of employers. When there are job openings in certain areas they increase the number of skilled immigrants. But who is going to take responsibility for them once they come here. Gill said every day he meets with highly skilled immigrants who came here but their qualifications do not match the requirements of the industry. They struggle to get a job in their own field and the get stuck in survival jobs, he said. There are 29 priority occupation under which skilled immigrants can apply without having Arranged Occupation Employment. A Surrey-Based immigration consultant feels government should not invite skilled immigrants under this list until they have guaranteed job offer.

Western premiers meet here to stoke economic powerhouse (Karen Kleiss, Edmontonjournal)
Richard Truscott of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business said he is pleased to hear the premiers will discuss immigration, which is crucial for supporting small independent businesses in Alberta. Immigration is at the top of our list, Truscott said. We are going to have to be very innovative and engaged on the immigration file for years to come. If we dont were definitely going to see the impacts. In under two years, the partnership has helped establish unprecedented co-operation among the provinces, governments say.

Wise5 Preliminary Results from Hamilton (Sarah Wayland, WISE5)
Consistent with what we heard from the entrepreneurs elsewhere, these entrepreneurs stated that the best way to help immigrants who wish to start businesses is to provide access to low-interest business loans.


Social enterprise centre to be created in honour of Pecaut (Michael Posner, Globe and Mail)
MaRS, the Toronto-based incubator of business innovation, is expected to announce the creation of a new Pecaut Centre for Social Enterprise in honour of the late David Pecaut, an indefatigable champion of Toronto and one of the founders of the annual Luminato arts festival. The announcement is scheduled to be made Tuesday night by Helen Burstyn, on the eve of the second anniversary of her husbands death Dec. 14, 2009. He was 54.

Toronto library board rejects mayors demand for 10% budget cut (Patrick White, Globe and Mail)
Torontos library board has voted to reject Rob Fords demand for a 10 per cent cut, marking a clear split between the mayor and the board he chose to head one of the citys largest agencies. In an 8-5 decision, directors thwarted a proposal from board chair Councillor Paul Ainslie to exact savings by carving 7 per cent of the hours from 56 branches a motion supported by the mayors office that would have shed $5.1-million from the library budget.

December 12 Councillors Host Budget Town Halls (Social Planning Toronto)
We are canvassing all of the Councillors offices to ask if they plan to host local town halls on the City budget for their constituents. Heres the update so far

As TTC heads for calamity, Karen Stintz changes the topic (Peter Kuitenbrouwer, National Post)
Councillor Karen Stintz, chair of the Toronto Transit Commission, is becoming a better politician. That is different from saying she is improving the TTC.


Political thinker had a passion for Canada (Sandra Martin, Globe and Mail)
Obituary – Tom Kent wasn’t a diehard partisan – he was an exemplar of the intellectually engaged citizen.

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Communications in social services/social change, immigration, diversity & inclusion in Toronto. Wannabe librarian, interested in nonprofit tech innovation.

Communications in social services/social change, immigration, diversity & inclusion in Toronto. Wannabe librarian, interested in nonprofit tech innovation.

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