Immigration & Diversity news headlines – December 15, 2011


Matt Damon, Wyclef Jean, and the Power of Diversity (Julia Moulden, Huffington Post)
The DiverseCity onBoard program, created in partnership with CivicAction (which convenes leaders to catalyze change), is sublimely smart and simple — it matches organizations with eligible candidates. DOB now has more than 1000 participating organizations and has placed over 600 people on boards in the Greater Toronto area. And now the whole world is in on it. DiverseCity onBoard just won the “BMW Group Award for Intercultural Innovation in support of the Alliance of Civilizations under the auspices of the United Nations.” More than 400 proposals from 70 countries were considered, and Maytree’s program won second place.

International Recognition for GTA Diversity Initiative: DiverseCity onBoard receives International

UN Intercultural Innovation Award (DiverseCity)
This week at the fourth UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) Forum in Doha, Qatar, DiverseCity onBoard was awarded second prize in the Intercultural Innovation Awards. The program was selected from over 400 proposals submitted from 70 countries.

Ontarians Honoured With Medal For Good Citizenship (Ontario News Centre)
Eleven recipients from across the province will receive the 2011 Ontario Medal for Good Citizenship.

Young Leaders Fighting Racism (Ontario News Centre)
Three young Ontarians have earned a 2011 Lincoln M. Alexander Award for their efforts to end racial discrimination and promote social change in their communities. The recipients are Nancy Shipman of Walpole Island First Nation, Alexandra Zuniga of Sarnia, and Jerome Morgan of Toronto.

Facing up to multiculturalism’s limits (Craig Mcinnes, Vancouver Sun)
There was no obvious fuss over the ethnic garb worn at a swearing-in ceremony earlier this month, when Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson took his oath of office in his kilt and sporran. If there were objections, they would have been to the expanse of leg exposed rather than what was being covered up, as was the case when Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced Muslim women will no longer be able to shroud their faces with burkas or niqabs when taking the oath of citizenship.

Getting Our Multiculturalism Right (Sheryl Saperia, Huffington Post)
While criticism of multiculturalism is sometimes warranted, on balance it deserves praise. Jennifer Jackson Preece, author of Minority Rights, understands multiculturalism to mean “that political integration should not be equated with cultural homogenization but should instead seek to recognize the cultural distinctiveness of all members of society while ensuring that they also possess equal citizenship and protection from discrimination.”

Citizenship is a privilege, not right (Vancouver Sun)
Kenney says Canada doesn’t ask much of people who want to become Canadian citizens. You must learn about Canada and take a test that has become more rigorous under Kenney’s watch and is based on a study guide, Discover Canada, that has much deeper content on Canadian history, values and institutions than the one developed by the former Liberal government “that was basically,” as Kenney says, “just a politically correct cartoon version of Canada.”

Canada’s oath (Windsor Star)
The government has made it clear that once the ceremony is over, women are welcome to cover their faces once more. It’s interesting that much of the debate over the ruling is taking place within the Muslim community itself, generating very different reactions. For Sohail Raza, past president of the Canadian Muslim Congress, this is a great step forward. He says the burka and niqab don’t belong in Canada – or Islam.

Imam’s Holocaust comments denounced (Bill Kaufmann, QMI Agency)
Local Muslim leaders have denounced another imam’s insistence intolerance facing their Canadian community is similar to that felt by Jews in 1930s Nazi Germany. Earlier this week, imam Syed Soharwardy said anti-Islam sentiment in Canada, bolstered by a new federal policy banning niqabs or burkas at citizenship ceremonies, smacked of the Jewish experience in pre-Second World War Germany. But senior imam Jamal Hammoud said while he disagrees with Ottawa’s new policy, he doesn’t share Soharwardy’s historical comparison.

P.E.I. Muslim society concerned about face covering decision (CBC)
The Muslim Society of P.E.I. says it’s concerned about the federal government’s decision not to allow women to wear face coverings anymore during citizenship swearing-in ceremonies. Earlier this week, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced that effective immediately, Muslim women would have to remove their niqabs or other face coverings to recite the oath of citizenship and become a Canadian.

Ottawa: Jews and Muslims present Comedy Show for Christmas (The Canadian)
After selling out the Gesu theatre in 2010, Kosher Jokes for the Halaladays is back, this time on a 3 city tour, as we attempt to bring Jews and Muslims together under one roof, and laugh in unison during the lonely Christmas season. Both the Jewish and Muslim communities very well represent Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa. Unfortunately, there is little to do for these groups during the holiday season, until now! Canada’s top Jewish and Muslim Stand Up Comics are joining forces in an attempt to bring both groups together, to laugh and be very merry.

Free speech is the key (Toronto Star Editorial)
Is a new era of freer speech about to dawn in this country? Canadians can only hope. We’ve lived with fetters for far too long. In Ottawa, Parliament is debating a bill by Conservative MP Brian Storseth to erase obnoxious sections of the Canadian Human Rights Act that unduly restrict free speech in the name of silencing hate mongers. At the same time the Supreme Court of Canada is re-examining hate speech jurisprudence in a case stemming from Saskatchewan’s equally restrictive provincial rights code. And Federal Court is taking its own independent look at the federal act–free-speech-is-the-key

Using The Media To Engage Communities: Dispatch From The U.S. National Immigrant Integration Conference (Welcoming Communities)
The Fourth Annual U.S. National Immigrant Integration Conference took place in Seattle,Washington from October 24 to 26, 2011. The conference brought together policy-makers, practitioners, researchers, elected officials, government employees, business representatives, and faith communities for three days of dialogue. Keen to benefit from the discussion, the Welcoming Communities Initiative participated in a number of conference sessions. In the weeks that follow, we will share some of the key findings and best practices from the conference. This article is the first in the series and puts the spotlight on a session entitled, “A Buzz for Welcoming: Using New and Traditional Media to Change the Conversation.”

Immigration Minister Kenney moving ethnic-outreach strategy to Montreal ridings (Tim Naumetz, Hill Times)
Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has shifted his Conservative Party ethnic-vote outreach to Montreal, following the party’s electoral gains in the Toronto region last May. But opposition MPs said Mr. Kenney’s (Calgary Southeast, Alta.) own public announcements and voting results from the May election show there is likely only one target Mr. Kenney has in his sights for now—the Mount Royal Liberal bastion now held by former justice minister Irwin Cotler.

Take part in NEW’s diversity survey (Canadian Grocer)
The Network of Executive Women has launched a survey about women and diversity in the Canadian retail and consumer products industry. This brief and confidential survey is designed to help the industry better understand the role of gender in the workplace.

Restrictions eased for 10,000 foreign caregivers (CBC)
The federal government recently issued at least 10,000 open work permits for caregivers from other countries, CBC News has learned. The permits allow the caregivers to continue to work in Canada, without being tied to the family that sponsored them to come here. Many caregivers have complained about alleged mistreatment, long hours for little pay and poor work conditions.

Surrey students help newcomers (Marisa Babic, Surrey Now)
Students at Woodward Hill Elementary school are keeping refugee kids toasty during their first Canadian winter. In partnership with DIVERSEcity, an agency that helps new immigrants settle into the community, students at the school collected coats, boots, tuques and mittens for the Cozy Kids Campaign. In just a couple of weeks, the students amassed a huge pile of new and gently used clothing, enough to stuff the back of two vans

Infant caught in custody dispute as mother faces deportation (Nicholas Keung, Toronto Star)
A 9-week-old baby is at the centre of a custody fight between his Canadian father and refugee mother, who is facing deportation next month. The dispute between Jessica Aristizabal Calrasco, 19, and Daniel Ricardo Velasquez, 21, raises the issue of what is best for their Canadian-born son, Jonathan, who is still being nursed by his mother.–infant-caught-in-custody-dispute-as-mother-faces-deportation

Islamic school hosts first Ontario RCMP junior police academy (Nicole O’Reilly, Hamilton Spectator)
The daylong event at the school inside the Hamilton Mosque Wednesday was the first of its kind in Ontario. Similar programs run in British Columbia.–islamic-school-hosts-first-ontario-rcmp-junior-police-academy


Focus on Children (Forced Migration Current Awareness)
Resources and publication related to young refugees, child soldiers and unaccompanied minor refugee claimants.

Refugees embody the hope and promise of Christmas (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.

MPs sound alarm on Iranian refugees (David Akin, London Free Press)
MPs from all parties in the House of Commons sounded the alarm Wednesday on what they say is a troubling and dangerous refugee situation in Iraq. More than 3,400 unarmed and defenceless refugees – mostly Iranians, but also including two Canadians – have been told by the Iraqi government that their sanctuary, Camp Ashraf, will be shut down within days. Many could be forced to return to Iran, where they would face certain imprisonment and possibly death. And these refugees would hardly be safe in Iraq: The camp has twice been attacked by the Iraqi military.

Camp Ashraf refugees get all-party support (Laura Payton, CBC)
Government and opposition MPs concerned for the safety of 3,400 refugees — predominantly Iranians — facing expulsion from Iraq’s Camp Ashraf have joined forces to call for assistance from Canadian allies. Residents are mostly members of the Mujahedin-e-Khalq of Iran, which is listed as a terrorist organization in Canada and the U.S. The group opposes the current regime in Iran.

Canada: the Roma’s next stop? (Richard Warnica, Maclean’s)
Since 2008, refugee claimants from the former Communist country have soared. From a paltry 34 in 2007, the number of Hungarian applicants climbed to 2,297 in 2010. That made Hungary the top source for refugee claimants in Canada that year (it continues to lead the category in 2011). The Immigration and Refugee Board doesn’t keep stats by ethnicity, but almost all Hungarian applicants are thought, by those who study the issue, to be Roma. And in recent years, Canadian officials have not greeted Roma asylum seekers with particular warmth. Roma refugee claimants from the Czech Republic are the main reason a visa requirement was reimposed on visitors from that country in 2009. Rumblings of a similar sanction on Hungarians bubble up every few months. Success rates for asylum seekers from Hungary, meanwhile, have dropped off in the last half-decade. In 2006, 52 per cent of Hungarian claimants were accepted; just two per cent were accepted last year.

Students rally behind woman facing deportation (Joel Eastwood, Globe and Mail)
Claudia Aristizabal, 40, is trying to explain why the Canadian government won’t let her stay in her home. She speaks in a soft, steady voice, occasionally turning to her daughter, Jessica, when she’s unsure of an English word. Mrs. Aristizabal and Jessica, 19, face deportation back to Colombia. And Jessica’s nine-week-old son Jonathan – a Canadian citizen by birth – may be left in Canada

Gay S. Korean conscript wins refugee status in Canada (Yonhap News Agency)
Canada awarded a South Korean man refugee status after he objected to the mandatory military service in his home country for being a pacifist and a homosexual, a local human rights group said Thursday. The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) granted the status in July 2009 to Kim Kyung-hwan, 31, saying the gay conscript is highly likely to face abuse and mistreatment back home, according to the Center for Military Human Rights in Korea, which brought the story to light two years after the fact.

Somali refugees, asylum-seekers returning home (
Most of the Somali community fled Somalia into other countries where they lived as refugees and asylum seekers and with little help from the United Nations Refugee Agency that airlifted thousands to Europe and other developed countries. However the Somalis have begun to return back to the war ravaged country in an attempt to try and build it from the ruins of years of civil war. Hundreds have so far returned from countries like Sweden, UK, Canada and the United States and have opened up business entities, health facilities, schools, universities, as well as resorts and hotels in Mogadishu.

This Christmas, Rossland gives the gift of freedom to six Burmese refugees (Andrew Bennett, The Nelson Daily)
Two families of Mon refugees from Burma will soon move to Rossland thanks to the efforts of the West Kootenay Friends of Refugees (WKFR), a community group formed this summer by Rossland residents. Now WKFR will focus on raising funds to support the families for one year after they arrive in 2013.


“Beyond Food Banks: Ending hunger in Canada” (CBC Metro Morning)
The CBC’s Mary Wiens brings us an important reality check as we approach our annual “Sounds of the Season” fundraiser for local food banks tomorrow.

Third-party management ‘can wreak havoc’ on first nations (Heather Scoffield, Globe and Mail)
Ottawa’s last-ditch solution, after trying other approaches, has been to remove the first nations’ authority to control their money and place their finances in the hands of an outside trustee. The effect? In Lake St. Martin, the band’s deficit climbed for years and has only recently been wrestled to the ground. There’s still flooding and displacement. For Barriere Lake, there’s no chief, and the school is having trouble paying its bills.

Price of moving from welfare to work? $400 (Laurie Monsebraaten, Toronto Star)
All Delon St Clair needed to get off welfare and go to college was $400. But none of the systems supposed to be helping low-income people escape poverty seemed willing or able to help. St Clair, 27, was accepted into a one-year applied science and technology course at Seneca College last month, a prerequisite for the college’s firefighter program. His Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) loan was approved last week. But his college dreams of training to become a firefighter were dashed when Seneca insisted he make a $400 tuition down payment by Friday or forfeit his place in class.

Opinion: Putting numbers on inequality (By David Green, Thomas Lemieux, Kevin Milligan and Craig Riddell And Nicole Fortin, Vancouver Sun)
The Occupy movement occupied a lot of political attention this fall in Vancouver. While it often seemed muddled in its goals, the one message that did come through was a concern with growing inequality. The media has talked a lot about U.S. inequality trends, but we may be more concerned about what is happening in Canada. Digging into Canadian trends can point us to how, as a society, we ought to respond.

What causes inequality? (Hugh Holland, CottageCountryNow)
Much is being said and written about inequality. Indeed, the “occupy” movement that swept the globe this fall purports to be about inequality in the world. The eternal quest for a sustainable level of equality will never end because there are so many causes of inequality. Some causes are country and government related, some business related, and many are individual related.–what-causes-inequality


Lack of Canadian experience calls for creative job hunt (Julie Labrie, Globe and Mail)
The greatest obstacle that new immigrants face when job searching is having Canadian work experience. Employers want to hire people who can hit the ground running, and some feel experience in this country is pivotal for this. As a result, many new-to-Canada job seekers struggle to find their first big break. While your task ahead may not be an easy one, you will need to work hard and take a creative approach.

Diverse Staffs Are Happier, More Productive (Chad Brooks, BusinessNewsDaily)
In order for the results to be seen, Scott said the commitment to diversity must be more than just superficial. As opposed to a business that simply does what research and popular practice tells them to, such as showing pictures of diverse workers on their website, Scott believes businesses need to reinforce their commitment to diversity in every aspect of their corporate culture and practices to fully reap the rewards of a diverse staff.

PAYE-TRIEC collaboration provides employers with access to two pools of talent (TRIEC)
Over the past several years, TRIEC has experimented with new ways to connect skilled immigrants to employment through increased coordination among the multitude of employment service providers, bridge-training programs and professional networks that serve them. However, employers recruit for a wider range of employment opportunities. Entry-level positions, for example, tend not to befit the extensive education and work experience of a highly skilled newcomer professional.

Fabiola Sicard: A passion for promoting the profile of Latin America and its people to business (TRIEC)
Fabiola Sicard has dual identities: She’s Mexican-born and a Canadian citizen; she’s the director of Latin Markets, Multicultural Banking for Scotiabank and she’s co-founder of LAMBA, the Latin American MBA Alumni Network. But above all else, Fabiola is passionate about building the profile of what Latin America and its people have to offer Canadian businesses.


TTC hatches last-minute rescue plan for transit (Elizabeth Church, Globe and Mail)
A last minute rescue plan by the TTC will save Toronto transit users from crowded buses and longer waits – at least for another month. The eleventh-hour reprieve will be presented Wednesday by TTC chair Karen Stintz at a commission meeting where a 10-cent fare hike is expected to be approved for next year.

The Cost Of Ignoring Our Aging Highrises (Jaime Woo, Torontoist)
Last week the National Film Board held a screening of One Millionth Tower, an interactive documentary imagining the future for a highrise in northern Etobicoke. The six-minute film asks viewers to reject the idea of the highrise as failed experiment and instead contemplate the potential locked within vertical living. To help provoke conversation, a panel of experts who helped work on the film shared some interesting factoids with the assembled audience about our local urban landscape.

Mapping a budget disaster (Enzo Di Matteo, NOW Magazine)
Perks urged – no, begged – his colleagues on the Budget Committee to “step back from the precipice” before the Fordists destroy Toronto altogether, cuz that’s where we’re headed. Who could argue with Perks’s appraisal? Almost 60 per cent of the cuts being proposed are in low-income neighbourhoods where the poverty rate is above 25 per cent of the population – to say nothing of the complete mess being made of the transit file.


Social Entrepreneurs (CBC Metro Morning)
Matt Galloway spoke about the “Social Finance Forum: Investing in Good Deals” , with Helen Burstyn. She is the widow of David Pecaut and co-chair of the Partnership Project.

Public and Private Sector Pay Differences (CCPA)
The Canadian Union of Public Employees has released an extensive analysis of public-sector and private-sector wages entitled, Battle of the Wages: Who gets paid more, public or private sector workers? The report joins several other recent studies critical of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business’ own analysis of census data purporting to show large positive pay differentials in the public sector. Using detailed occupational data compiled from Statistics Canada’s 2006 census, CUPE’s study finds that average salaries for comparable occupations in the private and public sector are similar on the whole, with a small overall public-sector pay premium of 0.5% entirely due to a smaller pay gap for women in the public sector.

Canadian charities facing increased pressure: demand outstripping supply (Darah Hansen, Vancouver Sun)
This year’s report, entitled Charities Under Pressure: Demand Outstripping Supply, captures what the author sees as a growing need for financial generosity among Canadians who have the capacity to give. In Canada, recent economic performance has been positive. The jobs lost following the 2008 global recession have since been recouped. “But that doesn’t change the fact that there are a lot of Canadians who are in need,” Alexander said.

Full report (PDF) –

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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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#Immigration & #Diversity news headlines – December 13, 2011 #inclusion RT @maytree_canada: MT @peelnewcomer: Peel released Peel Counts 2011...