Immigration & Diversity news headlines – December 22, 2011


There’s no such thing as Canadian values (Andrew Potter, The Ottawa Citizen)
For conservatives, a Canadian immigration minister using words like “we” and “our” and making forceful references to “shared values” is like the scene in A Fish Called Wanda where Kevin Kline seduces Jamie Lee Curtis with his cannonball Italian: you could hear the moans of ecstasy of the right-wing pundits from Tofino to Torbay. For the rest of us, it is another lost opportunity for our leaders to educate Canadians about how their country functions, what holds it together, and how we can think about how to reasonably accommodate newcomers. Because here’s the plain truth: Canadians don’t have shared values. We never have, and we never will. But that’s not a problem, because the ongoing cohesion of Canadian society is not seriously threatened by deep pluralism. If it was, we would never have got past the sectarian, linguistic, and cultural divides of the 19th century.

Quebec allows jail guards to wear hijabs (By Brian Daly, QMI Agency)
The simmering debate over accommodation of religious minorities was rekindled this week when Quebec said it would allow jail guards to wear Islamic head coverings. The announcement by the Public Security department has outraged critics who say it’s the latest example of an institution caving in to minorities rather than upholding Canadian values.

Can I please have my freedom back? (Huma Nazir, South Asian Generation Next)
Minister Jason Kenney has cooked up a controversy by legislating that women wearing niqaab be banned from citizenship ceremonies. “..any individual will have to show his or her face when taking the oath of citizenship,” declared Mr. Kenney in Montreal. “Allowing a group to hide their faces while they are becoming members of our community is counter to Canada’s commitment to openness, equality and social cohesion,” he explained. But does banning niqaab indicate “openness, equality and social cohesion” of the Canadian society?

Lift the veil of secrecy (Christina Blizzard, Toronto Sun)
You want to be Canadian? Lift the veil. That’s the message PC leader Tim Hudak has for niqab-wearing Muslim women. “This is a very reasonable requirement when swearing an allegiance to Canada,” Hudak told me in an exclusive interview this week. People come to this country because they’re attracted by our values and because they are seeking fresh opportunities for themselves and their children, he told me.

Multicultural ‘obsession’ drives new Parliamentary Poet Laureate (Jane Taber, Globe and Mail)
Although he sees his appointment as “a symbolic gesture,” he’s got some ideas about what he wants to do, including the “possibility of developing some educational aspects” into the post. “I think there is a great need to get some our poetry and some of our Canadian literature into our schools,” he said. Characterizing himself as a “Heinz 57,” Mr. Wah’s father was half-Chinese, his mother Swedish and he grew up “in my father’s Chinese-Canadian restaurant.” That has helped to fuel his “obsession” to the issue of race and multiculturalism. “And I’m very interested in the whole notion of hybridity and how we negotiate that in our culture,” he added.

Open public displays to all religions (Brian MacLeod, Sudbury Star)
Every year, a series of unfortunate events leads many Canadians to lament the so-called “war on Christmas.” The ensuing backlash almost always leaves people “shocked” and “dismayed.” That’s because the reaction by public institutions to religious challenges are often the same: Don’t acknowledge any religious celebrations. It’s time to rethink that approach.

A Muslim wonders: Where is Christ in our modern Christmas? (Ayman Oweid, Montreal Gazette)
Growing up as a Muslim in Canada, I was fascinated by the enormous amount of attention given to ensuring the Christmas spirit is in the air at this time of year. But what I saw and heard was largely confined to the materialistic aspects of Christmas. It seemed as if Christmas had been deprived of its own fundamental identity – namely Christ.

Have A MultiCulti Christmas (The Ethnic Aisle)
Holiday cheer + hot sauce, coming atcha. Denise Balkissoon wishes she wasn’t so tortured about Christmas, but she is. A half-Jewish Jew, Justine Purcell Cowell just wants in. Also in is Navneet Alang. He’s going to kick back and enjoy a white Christmas. Shed a tear for Simon Yau, whose parents never encouraged him to believe in Santa Claus. Kelli Korducki highlights the Christmas differences between Gringo and non-Gringo Catholics.

Burqa Ban Comes to Canada: Liberation Through Assimilation (Sonny Singh, Huffington Post)
The legal banning of the burqa and niqab (the full veil worn by some Muslim women) has been growing in popularity in Europe and is now making its way across the Atlantic. Canadian Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, Jason Kenney, known for his conservative and anti-immigrant policies, announced that new Canadian citizens will now be forced to remove the burqa or niqab while taking their oath of citizenship.

Prostate Cancer in South Asian Men (Dr. Amitha Mundenchira, South Asian Generation Next)
Dr. Ash Tewari is one of the world’s leading researchers and surgeons in the field of prostate cancer; he specializes in robotic prostatectomy. According to him, the incidence of prostate cancer amongst South Asians in the U.S. is just 4.6 per 100,000 as compared to 104.3 per 100,000 amongst non-South Asians.

Komagata Maru – Justice delayed is justice denied (Rupinder Kaur, South Asian Generation Next)
Growing up in a small Canadian city, my parents did everything they could to keep me and my siblings connected to our language, faith, culture and history. For example, they enforced a “Punjabi-only rule” in our house (mostly to accommodate my elderly grandmother so she wouldn’t feel so alienated when we jabbered away in English). Bedtime was a chance to hear stories of old Punjabi heroes. Sometimes the stories had a happy ending – sometimes they didn’t.

Immigration, Ethnicity and Diaspora Communities: The Study of Three Chinese Cultural Centres in Canada – PDF (Shibao Guo, University of Calgary)
Canada is an immigrant society. Immigration has played an important role in transforming
Canada into an ethno-culturally diverse and economically prosperous nation. The 2006
Census of Canada reveals that between 2001 and 2006, 1.1 million new immigrants arrived;
19.8% of the total population were born outside the country, and that 16.2% identified
themselves as visible minorities (Statistics Canada, 2007). Also according to the 2006 census,
the Chinese have become the second largest visible minority group in Canada after South
Asians, approaching a total of 1.3 million up from 1,029,400 in 2001. Despite our rich history
in immigration and the strategic role it plays in our future, the tension between immigration
and ethnicity is still prominent. Some of the debates focus on the existence of ethno-cultural
organizations. Despite the rhetoric that Canada relies on immigrants to help ameliorate its
labour shortages and aging population, the very ethnicity that many immigrants are
associated with is often treated with suspicion. In particular, ethnic organizations are often
criticized for threatening national unity, diluting Canadian identity, and promoting
ghettoization and separatism. Drawing from personal interviews and document analysis, this
paper examines the tension between ethnicity and immigration by investigating the history
and development of three Chinese cultural centres in Calgary, Winnipeg and Toronto. It
highlights the role of diaspora communities in helping Canadians of Chinese heritage
maintain their ethnic culture as well as promote mutual cultural understanding between
Chinese Canadians and Canadians of other heritage. The study has important implications for
researchers, policy-makers, and community workers regarding minority cultural rights and
inclusive citizenship

Toronto Awaits Largest Muslim Convention (Muneeb Nasir, OnIslam)
Thousands of Muslims are expected to descend on Toronto from across North America this weekend for the largest Muslim gathering in Canada to discuss challenges facing Muslim minorities. “Based on pre-registration, we are expecting a sold-out convention this year,” an organizer of the “Reviving the Islamic Spirit Convention” told


Waterloo wrestler’s Olympic dreams dashed by red tape (Christine Rivet, Record)
Mehdi Kiawer’s Canadian dream has been met with a sea of red tape and a devastating delay. After searching the globe for a new home, the world-class wrestler from Iran arrived in Canada nearly four years ago as a refugee. For months, the transplanted Kurd has pushed for his Canadian citizenship so he might represent his new country on the Olympic stage. Yet Kiawer, 29, did not attend Canada’s Olympic trials in Winnipeg this past weekend. He still doesn’t have his Canadian citizenship.–waterloo-wrestler-s-olympic-dreams-dashed-by-red-tape

Canada denies Iranian journalist’s refugee claim (Adrian Humphreys, National Post)
Behzad Khalilzadeh was a reporter in Tehran when he says a confidential source in Iran’s intelligence agency gave him a tip about the grim fate of Canadian photographer Zahra Kazemi, who died in an Iranian prison. But his scoop on the photojournalist’s 2003 rape and murder in a notorious prison never made it into print in Hamshahri, a prominent national daily newspaper. Instead, he was visited by policemen who threatened to kill him if he did not tell them the name of his source, the former journalist said. Fleeing his homeland, he claimed refugee protection where he thought his actions might be best appreciated: Canada. His reception has not been welcoming.


City’s success tackling poverty to be celebrated (April Cunningham, Telegraph-Journal)
The city’s unique way of tackling poverty will be celebrated at a “social innovation” forum put on by Vibrant Communities next month. Organizers hope to draw big name speakers to the all-day event, to be held Jan. 20 at the UNBSJ Grand Hall uptown.

It’s easier to ignore statistics than little faces with names (Daphne Bramham, Vancouver Sun)
Children are going to school in Metro Vancouver without food, without shoes, without winter coats or mittens. Some are tormented by bedbug bites; others with head lice. The stories are as heartbreaking as they seem incredible in this City of Glass so often described as one of the most livable in the world and in this province that not that long ago audaciously described itself as the best place on Earth. Tell that to the children. Tell that to the wonderful teachers, principals, volunteers, charities and individual donors who do what they can to make things better every day and not just at Christmas time.


Immigrant Labour Market Outcomes in Canada: The Benefits of Addressing Wage and Employment Gaps (hireimmigrants)
While Canadian immigrants have higher education levels and are more likely to live in cities where earnings tend to be higher, they experience higher unemployment rates and lower incomes than their Canadian-born counterparts, according to a new report by RBC Economics.

Online chat archive: The economic costs of under-utilizing skilled immigrant workers (Globe and Mail)
Diana MacKay of the Conference Board of Canada, and Elizabeth McIsaac, executive director of the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council, answered reader questions on this topic in a live discussion Wednesday

Fewer jobs, income for newcomers (Darah Hansen, Postmedia News)
Higher-than-average education levels have not spared new-comers to Canada from experiencing higher unemployment rates and lower incomes than their work colleagues who were born in the country, according to the Royal Bank of Canada. If immigrants’ skills were rewarded in a manner similar to that of Canadian-born workers, it would have resulted in $30.7 billion in increased incomes, the bank found in a study that examines the immigrant labour market gap. “It is a big number,” said Dawn Desjardins, RBC assistant chief economist, in reference to what she called an “untapped” economic contributor.

You support diversity, but are you ethical? (Deloitte)
Are organisations aware of how perceptions of diversity and ethics work together to influence employees’ intention to stay or go? Employee perceptions of diversity and ethics in an organisation have a significant impact on employee intention to leave the company (McKay et al 2007). Using a framework of corporate social responsibility Fellow Robert Stewart (University of Houston), doctorial student Sabrina D. Volpone (Temple University), Associate Professor Derek R. Avery (Temple University) and Professor Patrick McKay (School of Management and Labor Relations) explored how the two distinct climates (diversity and ethics) in organisations interact. They found that only when perceptions of diversity and ethics are aligned with each other, does a company satisfy all three components of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) – economic, legal and ethical. With this alignment organisations can reduce turnover intentions. However where diversity and ethic are not aligned, mixed messages can increase the intention to leave. In essence, authenticity is the name of the game.

Nizar Hirji – mentor to skilled immigrants (Ismailimail)
“When I came here from Tanzania in 1982 there was a recession and I was jobless for nine months. There was no one to tell me where to find a job. I had to start at minimum wage and had a really tough time. I want to give newcomers support so they won’t have to suffer as much as I did.”

Immigrants have started nearly half of America’s 50 top venture-funded companies (Eric Brooke, Startup Visa Canada)
Immigrants are increasingly important in driving growth and innovation in America, as evidenced by the role played by foreign-born founders and key personnel in the nation’s breakthrough companies. Immigrants have started nearly half of America’s 50 top venture-funded companies and are key members of management or product development teams in almost 75 percent of our country’s leading cutting-edge companies. The research finds that among the top venture-backed companies, immigrant founders have created an average of approximately 150 jobs per company in the United States.

Suspected illegal workers arrested in Halifax (CBC)
Border services agents and Halifax police raided a Clayton Park home and kiosks at three shopping malls Wednesday in a search for illegal Israeli workers. A spokesperson for the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) said the raid was part of an ongoing investigation under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and 10 suspected illegal immigrants were arrested.

Unions hold apprenticeships hostage (Chris Vander Doelen, The Windsor Star)
Consider our circumstances in Canada: employers in Alberta have been screaming for more skilled workers for so long they’ve almost given up trying to find Canadians for the jobs, federal Labour Minister Rona Ambrose heard yet again this week. In our western oilfields alone, $111 billion worth of development is underway. The industry is trying to fill its high-paying skilled jobs with temporary foreign workers while begging Ottawa to let in more immigrants to do the work.

It’s time to increase the minimum wage and back it up with resources to stop wage theft. (Workers’ Action Centre)
WAC member, Lilia Martinez shared her experience getting paid less than minimum wage in a recent Toronto Star article about the need to increase the minimum wage to get workers out of poverty. “I can’t survive on what they pay,” Lilia said of jobs she has worked cleaning offices, in restaurants and looking after children, often for less than minimum wage. Even when employers pay the legal minimum wage, it is not enough to survive, especially when we don’t have full-time work. “I am desperately looking for full-time work,” Lilia said. “My story is the story of a lot of Latin American women living here. We are trying to make a contribution, but it’s hard to find employers willing to treat us fairly.”


Unsung heroes of the Third City (Simon Black, Toronto Star)
And as report after report has concluded, our city has not been immune from these socio-economic trends. As researchers at the University of Toronto’s Cities Centre have documented, over the last 30 years Toronto has become a greatly unequal place, segregated by income into three distinct cities: City #3 — or the Third City — is made up of Toronto’s low-income neighbourhoods, with their high concentrations of racialized poverty. Generally found in the northeastern and northwestern parts of Toronto, incomes in these “inner” suburbs have declined 20 per cent or more since 1970.–unsung-heroes-of-the-third-city

Toronto tales (Tom Malleson and Juilette Daigre, RedPepper)
Juliette Daigre and Tom Malleson guide us round Canada’s most radical city.

A Year With Mayor Ford (CBC Metro Morning)
Guest host Karen Horsman spoke with Jamie Strashin. He is CBC Toronto’s City Hall reporter.

Mayor’s office destroys records of business card purchase (Stephen Spencer Davis, Globe and Mail)
Mayor Rob Ford’s office destroyed documents pertaining to the specially embossed business cards procured for the mayor and his staff from his family-owned company Deco Labels and Tags, according to a document obtained by The Globe and Mail… When asked why the documents were considered “transitory” and who made the decision, Mr. Ford’s office declined to comment. The mayor has long been an advocate of transparent competitive bidding and has frequently criticized city staff for relying on unreported sole source tenders. However, the revelations come at a time when Integrity Commissioner Janet Leiper is investigating allegations from Toronto resident Jude MacDonald that Mr. Ford has not adequately disclosed his office expenses, including those paid out of his own pocket.


Charity rankings often don’t tell the full story (Katherine Van Kooy, Calgary Herald)
Recently, a number of articles in the Herald and elsewhere have referred to the ranking of charities by Charity Intelligence Canada. While these articles have focused attention on some outstanding local organizations, it is important to bring some much needed context and clarity to the charity rating stories.

Introducing Innoweave — Tools & Networks for Social Innovation (J.W. McConnell Family Foundation)
The Foundation is excited to announce the launch of Innoweave, an initiative that provides community sector leaders with new tools and processes to effect large-scale change. In collaboration with Social Innovation Generation (SiG), thought leaders, academics, and prospective partners from the private and public sectors, Innoweave will address critical operational and strategic needs within the community sector.

The following two tabs change content below.


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.

Read previous post:
Daily Reads/Micro Thoughts Summary

RT @ZahraSays: Email I got today: "Late General Gaddafi left money in his account with our bank. Want to collaborate...