Immigration & Diversity news headlines – January 3, 2012


Ratna Omidvar among Order of Canada recipients (Maytree)
We congratulate Ratna Omidvar on being named to the Order of Canada! This is a great opportunity to reflect on some of Ratnas recent thoughts and insights about her experience coming to Canada, and her hopes and dreams for our country.

The honour roll: New members of the Order of Canada (Joe Friesen, Globe and Mail)
Ms. Omidvar, president of the Maytree Foundation in Toronto, is one of Canadas leading immigrant advocates, credited with helping corporate Canada understand and adapt to the countrys changing demographics. She said she romanticized Canada initially, but gave up her former career as a teacher and saw her husband, an engineer, struggle to find work. It was several years before she found her feet, starting as a volunteer at her childs daycare and working her way up in the organization. Today, she has the ear of Bay Street. Ive always done the same work, she said. What I do is try to help people imagine solutions. I help people wake up to the new reality that is Canada. Immigrants have to change when they come here, but Canada has to change, too.

Visible minorities under-represented in city government study (Ron Fanfair, Share)
City politicians like to boast of Toronto’s diversity, yet there is just one African-Canadian councillor and very few visible minorities holding public office. In a recently unveiled study, Ryerson University political science professor, Myer Siemiatycki, says Toronto lags in diverse political representation.

Changing face of Peel Region a challenge for schools and police (San Grewal, Toronto Star)
In just a decade visible minorities in Peel Region have gone from just that the minority to what they now represent: a strong majority. Increasingly, members of that new majority are wondering why theyre not better represented in the corridors of power, and challenging public institutions to do better. The schools and police, in particular, point to the challenges of coping with the dramatic shift that occurred between 1996 and 2006, as well as their successes in dealing with the new demographics.

Wrong on faith (Globe and Mail editorial)
Saskatchewan is heading in the wrong direction by adding a new category of private, faith-based schools eligible for public money. With the province becoming a destination for immigrants from all over the world, it has an opportunity to build public schools that will bring people together. Instead, the effect will be to emphasize separateness.

Kenney targets immigration abuse; numbers peak (Douglas Todd, Vancouver Sun)
There remains great uncertainty, including among academics, about whether its good or bad for the country. Despite the balance in his story, ONeils news feature didnt have room to explore in detail what strong immigration is doing to the economy. Promoters of high immigration come up with numbers to suggest it is good for the economy, but other economics note how personal finances continue to weaken for the poor and middle classes. With wages remaining low and housing prices high.

Forum will tackle hateful behaviour (Robert Barron, Daily News)
The pieces are falling together for the second youth dialogue, hosted by the Central Vancouver Island Multicultural Society, scheduled to be held in Nanaimo on April 12. The society is seeking a total of $40,000 in government funding, with $25,000 from the province and $15,000 from Ottawa, to pay for the one-day youth-led event in Nanaimo that will explore hate-motivated behaviour in the community and how to address it.

Facebook Is The Great New World Of Communication Despite LINK Columnists View (Sunny Singh Chopra, The Link)
I recently read the article on Facebook in The Link by Ken Herar. To paraphrase his article, he suggests Facebook polarizes people and divides communities. Punjabis and other people in Canada only talk on Facebook with their own kinds. Give me a break that is completely nonsense. This belief is the farthest from the truth. Facebook is one of the new technologies that has helped diversity, multiculturalism and the Charter of Rights And Freedoms here in Canada. In my dealings, working with KiDDAA Magazine, Facebook has helped us reach out to all communities. Through Facebook we interviewed Daniel Igali, Sugar Sammy, Haroon Siddiqui, the list goes on.

Immigration, Jobs, Pensions Major Riding Concerns: MP Corneliu Chisu (South Asian Generation Next)
Elected to the Canadian House of Commons in the 2011 election as a member of the Conservative Party, MP Corneliu Chisu represents the electoral district of Pickering-Scarborough East. Trained as an engineer, MP Chisu retired as a Major from the Canadian Forces. He is fluent in English, Italian, Romanian and Hungarian and possesses a working knowledge of French, Russian and German. Generation Next recently spoke to the MP on a range of issues. As a publication focusing on the concerns of the South Asian community, we are interested to know what are some of the major issues faced by immigrantswho form a substantial part of Mr. Chisus riding.

NetIP: Aiming to be One Step Ahead of Others A chat with Neeti Passi, President of NetIP, Toronto (South Asian Generation Next)
Even though our name does have the word Indian we always market our events to all South Asians and ensure to bring in leaders from all parts of the world. We recognize that being South Asian is beyond having an Indian background and we strive to celebrate everything South Asian, regardless of origin. In my opinion through my experience in the corporate world, I think most organizations in the GTA are ensuring that their organizations are representative of the diversity that this province has to offer.

Super Visas Will Be Costly With Just Insurance Beginning At $3,300 Per Year (The Link)
The much hyped Super Visa announced by Citizenship and Immigration Canada will be a costly affair with insurance costs beginning at $3,300 for a fit senior. The visa itself costs C$150 or its equivalent, said CIC spokesperson Bill Brown or IRs 6,900 in India (and Nepal); PRs10,500 in Pakistan; LKRs17,200 in Sri Lanka (and the Maldives); and BDT11,400 in Bangladesh.

Super visa only for those who can afford it (Nicholas Keung, Toronto Star)
Felix Zhang was thrilled when Ottawa launched a super visa last month to allow parents and grandparents of newcomers to visit Canada and stay here for up to two years. But the pricetag for the mandatory health insurance required under the program is a huge obstacle for the Zhangs and many other immigrant families. The private insurance typically costs $2,000 to $4,000 depending on which company is writing the policy and the age and medical history of the insured. For Zhang, a Toronto IT manager, said those premiums are beyond the reach of even middle-class immigrants like him.

Léon Mugesera faces deportation (Montreal Gazette)
Almost eight years after the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously ruled that he is inadmissible to stay in Canada because he helped incite the Rwandan genocide, Léon Mugesera could finally face deportation to his homeland on Jan. 12. But the Quebec City resident, who has been fighting expulsion from Canada since 1995 and has been in legal limbo since the 2005 Supreme Court decision, is circulating an email to drum up support from friends – and he has hired a lawyer to launch more legal action.

Live-in-Caregiver Program: Minister Kenney’s vendetta against Canadian parents? (Ed Porter, The Canadian)
The Live-in-Caregiver Program enabled my wife, and myself to hire several live in nannies for our three children over the last 8 years. Some of our nannies worked out great, and some didn’t. When Minister Jason Kenney announced changes to The Live-in Caregiver Program, my wife and myself were rather surprised to hear that if we decided to hire a new nanny, we had to cover recruitment fees, airfare, temp. insurance and an immigration lawyer. This is an onerous requirement for a still-to-be formally hired person. Indeed, we have no assurance that she will be the right fit for my family. More importantly, we have no assurance that she wont just walk out on us, since we have a very busy family with three young and energetic boys. Plus, we live in a rural area so we have several disadvantages of retaining a nanny.

Conservatives laying groundwork for Office of Religious Freedom (Steven Chase, Globe and Mail)
The Harper government is preparing to carve out a new role for Canada as a champion of religious rights abroad, another sign of the Conservative shift in foreign policy and one that has roots in the tragic 2011 assassination of a Pakistani cabinet minister. Early in 2012, the Tories will finally flesh out a campaign promise to install the Office of Religious Freedom within the secular confines of the Department of Foreign Affairs a controversial pledge that has drawn accusations of vote pandering and blurring lines between church and state.

The Urgency and Value of Religious Freedom (Geoffrey Cameron, The Mark)
For those familiar with the harsh realities of persecuted religious minorities abroad, the new level of foreign-policy attention to religious freedom is a welcome development. The governments plan to open an Office of Religious Freedom builds on decades of non-partisan Canadian support for promoting human rights abroad.

Being a Canadian (Gurpreet Singh,
It has been more than 10 years since I immigrated to this country from India in March 2001. Looking back over this time period, I can tell what it means to be a Canadian citizen, especially from the standpoint of an immigrant.

Diversity the new reality (Bob Duff, The Windsor Star)
Hockey players these days come from all cultures. Toronto Maple Leafs centre Nazem Kadri is Lebanese. Pittsburgh Penguins centre Richard Park in South Korean. “It’s great to see the game evolving to where more cultures and more ethnicities are being able to play the game, and play it at a high level,” Subban said. “Hopefully, it continues to develop and grow.” While still a predominantly white game, seeing a player of colour in a hockey game is no longer unusual. Quebec forward Anthony Duclair is another black player skating in the under-17 event. “People see what’s going on,” Baptiste said of the changing colour of the game. “We’re just here to play hockey, and there’s nothing else to it.”

Saying goodbye to Milton Wong, a great British Columbian (Douglas Ward, Vancouver Sun)
Milton Wong, who grew up in Chinatown as the son of an immigrant tailor and became one of Vancouvers most honoured financiers, philanthropists and community leaders, has died. Wong died Saturday at age 72, after battling pancreatic cancer for several months.

Editorial: Hijabs don’t hinder prison guards (Calgary Herald)
Unlike burkas and niqabs, the hijab does not obscure the face. The line in the sand should be drawn at hijabs – they are as far as government should go in permitting religious or cultural head coverings among female guards.

Canadian Immigration Policy Shift (David Cohen,
Until recently, Canadian immigration policy targeted economic immigrants (permanent residents) to fuel our countrys growth. However, in the past few years a significant shift has taken place. Starting in 2006, and for every year since, Canada has admitted more temporary foreign workers than economic immigrants. We are now choosing to fill labour shortages with guest workers ahead of permanent residents. This change in direction will have consequences.

Multiculturalism Trudeau’s gift to Canada (Sharon Lem, Toronto Sun)
Former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau was a visionary about the way different cultures in Canada co-exist today, says the CEO of the Multicultural History Society of Ontario (MHSO), Dora Nipp. As 2011 draws to a close, so does the 40th anniversary of the commencement of Canadas policy of Multiculturalism, spearheaded by Trudeau and adopted in 1971.

Hopes & plans for 2012: A closer look at Burnaby business (Wanda Chow – Burnaby NewsLeader)
Q:What are your hopes for the community in the New Year that have the best chances of actually happening? That as a Board of Trade we are able to continue to contribute to the local community through our programs in the areas of immigrant integration, homelessness, future leader development and environmental sustainability.

Muslim group wants Gatineau, Que., mosque attack treated as hate crime (Winnipeg Free Press)
A major Canadian Muslim organization wants swift action against people who smashed windows at a mosque in Gatineau, Que., and tried to torch two cars in the parking lot. There were no injuries. The Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations says Gatineau must investigate the attack as a hate crime. The organization says it is not the first time the mosque has been the target of vandals.

Changing the continuity of racism in canada: An immigrants point of view (Newstime Africa)
Nothing more could have been well appreciated as a Christmas present by the Oyinsan family living in the outskirts of Toronto in New Market, if only someone would have called and congratulated them for being the personification of the greatness of Canada by virtue of them being an inter-racial couple. Instead, to the shock of many, including York Regional Police, they wakeup with all the plans they might have had to celebrate this years Christmas and the holiday season for that matter with all the grandeur that come with them only to be greeted on that Holy anniversary with one of the most puerile racial attacks that somewhat fine community could boast of in its history. Seun Oyinsan, a Nigerian who migrated to Canada in 1996 and his Caucasian wife, Rita Brown, are reported to live a modest life in New Market for a while now, and according to Canadian standards, they could fall within the middle class bracket. Whatever might have attracted some spiteful racist (s) to single them out for attacks or just out of some skewed hatred for a Blackman and a white woman to live as a couple, one cannot tell. What is however uncontested is the fact that it all started on September 10 this year when the family woke up and found swastikas on their garage door and an SUV with the letter N word acid-burned on another vehicle, plus nails in wood against the tires with a chilling death-threat note insisting that the couple move out of the town. As if that was not enough, on Christmas Eve, racist slogans were scratched on their repaired SUV and a car.

PEEL NEWCOMER STRATEGY GROUP: Advocating for Newcomers (South Asian Generation Next)
At PNSG, 100% of our staff is immigrants. In terms of women, there are three women and two men. In terms of South Asian, three of the five are from South Asia. Some ask me if this is deliberate, but they just qualified for the roles we were looking at. They are all also newcomers. The kind of things we celebrate as a team is my assistant getting her drivers license, my communications person becoming a Canadian citizen.

Canadian investor mulls women-only taxis (
A Canadian entrepreneur says he thinks women in Saint John, New Brunswick, would take to taxis with female drivers, particularly Muslim customers. Dave Barnes told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. he was doing market research in the city based on reported successes in Europe in which some female drivers would only accept female passengers.

Ethnic Groups Dont See Themselves in Advertising, Digital Content (eMarketer)
Brands that want to reach ethnic minorities online are not doing a very good job, according to some research. An April 2011 survey by Yahoo!, Mindshare and Added Value found that according to Hispanics, blacks and Asian-Americans, digital advertising does not engage them. When asked for three brands doing a good job reaching them, most said they couldnt name even one. One big reason was that respondents felt their ethnic groups were poorly represented in messaging. Some 78% of blacks, 74% of Hispanics and 72% of Asians surveyed agreed that diversity in ads is the best reflection of the real world. And nearly as many in each group said ads should show more of that diversity.

Honour Killings and the Myth of ‘Arabness’ (Shahrzad Mojab, The Mark)
The mass media in Canada have rushed to ascribe the “honour” killing phenomenon to Arabs and Muslims rather than recognize it as a product of patriarchy.

Deported family vows to return (Kevin Connor, Qmi Agency)
Marilia Sebastiao says she will be back. Marilia, 27, and nine members of her family spanning three generations were deported to Portugal Thursday evening for living illegally in Toronto since 2001. They voluntarily presented themselves to Pearson International Airport for the collection of their travel documents and were bid farewell by a small group of well wishers.


Newcomers’ burdens give us reason to be grateful (Carol Sanders, Winnipeg Free Press)
This year I was reminded of how fortunate I am to be born in Canada and to have a job that lets me meet so many people who are not. The newcomers I write about who’ve fled tyranny and violence remind me to be grateful for the rule of law, democratic elections and a social safety net. What I’m most grateful for is their demonstration of how to handle life when you’re dealt a bad hand.

Iraqi refugee family celebrates first Christmas in Canada (RCI The Link)
Like hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Christians, the Razooqi family fled Baghdad to escape sectarian violence. After a long separation in exile, the couple and three of their four children were resettled in Halifax, Nova Scotia, just in time to celebrate their first Christmas together in many years. Our East Coast reporter Robert Jaros met the family.

Refugees succeed with education gift (Jen Gerson, Calgary Herald)
Dylan Jones, the president of the university’s students’ union, said everybody studying at the school contributes $2.25 to the program. “You can find that in your couch cushions,” he said. “It’s enough to change the lives of literally the most-deserving people in the world. I get a chill in my body just talking about it.” The program has been in place at the university since 1986; this is the first year the school has supported two refugees simultaneously. Jones said students such as Uwimana “change your perspective on the opportunities in your life and how incredible it is to go to university.” She is happy to receive the chance.

Somalian refugees adapt to university (Nanaimo Bulletin)
Like many of the close to 1,700 international students at Vancouver Island University, Fatuma Hassan Ali and Noor Mohamed Maalim had to adapt to their new surroundings on Canadas West Coast. Unlike almost all the other students at VIU, the two Somalia-born students are adjusting to life outside the confines of a refugee camp.

LGBT Refugees Made Progress in 2011 (Diane Anderson-Minshall,
Canada’s conservative government offering assistance to LGBT refugees, while the Obama administration provided funding for the “first LGBT asylum support project in Chicago and a new refugee route began to deliver LGBT to sanctuary in San Francisco.”

Gay South Korean finds peaceful refuge in Canada (Steve Borowiec, Toronto Star)
Kyung-hwan feared that as a homosexual his human rights would be violated in the patriarchal South Korean military. Kyung-hwan saw Canada as a place where his rights would be respected. Its very difficult to come out as a gay guy in Korea. There are very few people who are openly gay and their lives are not easy, he said.–gay-south-korean-finds-peaceful-refuge-in-canada

Deported teen still lives in fear (Wendy Gillis, Toronto Star)
One year since their controversial deportations, both Garcia and his sister are safe, says Sayed Hussan, a friend of Garcia and member of No One Is Illegal. Brenda has gone into hiding, and Daniel has been constantly on the move. Hussan doesnt know where either sibling currently lives in Mexico. But for Garcia, restarting his life has been painful, Hussan said. He had quite a difficult time he was unable to find a place to live, couldnt get admission into school, he didnt get a lot of support from his distant family, and there was a lot of fear around him being in the city where his sister had been attacked, he said.


Power and privilege in Saskatoon and Toronto: Recognition of racism as foundational element of social determinants of health (Diane Dyson, Belonging Community)
Speaking recently at an event hosted by the Wellesley Institute, Dr. Cory Neudorf leans forward in his seat when asked a question related to the social determinants of health (SDOH) of people of colour and Aboriginal peoples. Its not what you expect from a public servant, and his answer shows the commitment he has to making real changes to the health of all city residents and the depth needed to accomplish that. As Chief Medical Health Officer for Saskatoon Health Region, Neudorf has steered the prairie city to a broad public buy-in for attacking poverty. He has moved the discussion of public health from personal behaviours towards a recognition of the systemic and policy barriers which can keep groups of the regions residents in poverty.

Surrey MLA starts month on welfare (PovNet)
When Raise the Rates challenged any BC MLA to live on welfare for one month, only one MLA took up the call. Surrey NDP MLA Jagrup Brar started his one month on welfare on January 1st with a backpack and two quarters. He will be challenged to find a place to live and survive on $610 a month, the income assistance amount designated for a single person who is expected to work. He plans on spending half the month in Surrey and the other half in a single room in the Downtown Eastside. You can follow his journey on

Steward: Income gap widest in the West (Gillian Steward, Toronto Star)
You dont have to look far in either Calgary or Vancouver to see glaring signs of the widening gap between rich and poor. Women pushing shopping carts full of bottles and cans past gleaming new condo towers. Men lined up outside a homeless shelter in the shadow of the Calgary Tower.–steward-income-gap-widest-in-the-west

Idea #7: ‘Place-based’ Plans to Conquer Child Poverty (Katie Hyslop, The Tyee)
Inner-city neighbourhoods like Vancouver’s Strathcona-Grandview-Woodlands region are unfairly labeled as money pits: areas where millions upon millions of dollars pour in to alleviate or eradicate the effects of poverty on the people and families who live there. Yet gross inequality continues to persist, and kids who grow up poor turn into poor parents, stuck in a never-ending cycle of poverty.

Poverty: Its still not acceptable (Hamilton Spectator)
How is it possible that thousands of children in Hamilton still go to school hungry? That about 89,000 Hamiltonians live in households with income below the poverty line? That 30,000 people live in poverty even though they are employed? Poverty is not exclusive to Hamilton. But it is, nonetheless, personal to Hamiltonians. Those who live in poverty in our city are not simply statistics. They are our relatives, our friends and our neighbours.–poverty-it-s-still-not-acceptable


Your skilled immigrant business intelligence a roundup from (Maytree)
A summary of recently posted items on the hireimmigrants site.

Prisoners of Our Mind-sets (Doug Williamson, Human Resource Executive Online)
Experience is not about the number of years in a job or a role, but rather the variety and diversity of personal experiences. It is this rich tapestry that helps ensure we do not become locked into narrow channels of thinking, but can instead leap across domains to collect, share and assemble new patterns of insight. The more new, novel and different things experienced, the more likely the brain will be able to fill in the missing parts and make a variety of new connections. As the environment changes, so too has the type of mind-set needed from organizational leaders.

Company diversity helps bottom line (
The more diverse a company’s workforce is, the more loyal, happy and productive its employees tend to be, researchers in Canada found. Lead author Kristyn Scott, author of “The Diverse Organization: Finding Gold at the End of the Rainbow” and a professor with Ryerson University, Joanna Heathcote of University of Toronto at Scarborough and Jamie Gruman of the University of Guelph conducted a review of about 100 studies.

New jobs for a new age (Brett Bundale, Chronicle Herald)
Booming new careers, coupled with an influx of skilled immigrants, have buffered the countrys workforce against a greying population and shrinking participation rate. Canadas labour force now stands at 22.5 million, an increase of four million since 2011. One in four workers is over 55 years old, while one in three is foreign-born.

Where are the world’s labourers migrating for jobs? Think China (Tavia Grant, Globe and Mail)
People are still seeking work in traditional markets, like Germany or Canada. But new, surprising flows are taking place in this post-recession, rocky recovery era — Mexican Americans are returning home, for example, and Spanish graduates are emigrating to Chile and Chinese scientists in the U.K. are leaving to return home. The shift promises to create new types of diasporas, change remittance flows and alter labour markets


For a civic activist, a city is about creating opportunities (Elizabeth Church, Globe and Mail)
Mitzie Hunter is set to take the helm of CivicAction, the not-for-profit organization founded by the late David Pecaut to address challenges to the Toronto regions social and economic future. Ms. Hunter got involved in the group when it first met in 2002 under the banner of the City Summit Alliance and has co-chaired the organizations Emerging Leaders Network since its creation in 2006. She comes to the job after a tenure as chief administrative officer for the Toronto Community Housing Corp. and a stint with Goodwill. The Globe and Mail caught up with her as she prepared to move into the CEOs office.

Fourth Wall: Upgrading the Clamshell (Hilary Best, Spacing Toronto)
Previously, we discussed how the geography of local representation has changed in this city over the past two centuries. Like it or not, these days 100 Queen St. West is the heart of our local democracy. Yet, very few citizens walk through the buildings (heavy!) doors to attend council meetings or find out more about how to get involved with the City. Here are a few simple ideas to make City Hall more hospitable to citizens.


Social And Economic Statistics (Caledon Institute)
Periodically Caledon will publish graphs providing key information on topics such as low incomes, average incomes and income distributions; poverty lines; minimum wages; and major income security programs and tax benefits including Employment Insurance, pensions, child benefits, earnings supplements for the working poor, disability tax measures and social assistance. The accompanying text will explain the meaning of the figures and the core themes that the numbers illustrate.


January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month in the U.S. (SOS Children’s Villages Canada)
January is set as a permanent month of awareness for those who are denied their basic fundamental human rights by human trafficking in the US and around the world.

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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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