Immigration & Diversity news headlines – January 23, 2012


Making Community Work a Passion: Munira Ravji (South Asian Generation Next)
“I think it’s important for employers to see immigrants as coming to the table with assets, not deficits. Having employees with global experience that speak multiple languages, makes Canadian businesses more competitive globally, and opens up new markets to individuals such as newcomers and immigrants they may not have been able to reach before.”

The 5 Estates Project: Bringing Diverse Communities Together (Cities of Migration)
In 2009, the 5 Estates Project was founded as a two-year pilot project set up by the Centre for Equality and Diversity (CfED) in partnership with the Dudley Federation of Tenants and Residents’ Associations (DFTRA). The impetus for the project came after a member of the DFTRA executive approached the CfED, formerly the Dudley Racial Equity Council in 2006, to discuss how to counter some of the problems on the housing estates and reduce tensions between communities and the social isolation of migrants. A key objective was also to encourage migrant communities to participate in local decision-making processes as few attended the TRA meetings.

Muslim community finds downtown worship space (Mario Toneguzzi, Calgary Herald)
Calgary Muslims have found a place to worship in the downtown. The Al Madinah Calgary Islamic Centre, in the northeast neighbourhood of Falconridge, will be moving to a new location, at 421 Riverfront Ave. S.E. Iman Syed Soharwardy says the grand opening will take place Jan. 27 on Eid Milad un Nabi.

Tory MP to his South Asian constituents: Do you speak ‘Indian’? (Campbell Clark, Globe and Mail)
Conservative MP Wladyslaw Lizon has raised a little ridicule by sending a survey out in his ethnically diverse riding asking constituents if they speak “Indian.” The problem, of course, is that there is no such language. In India, there are 29 languages each spoken by more than a million people, like Hindi, Bengali, Tamil and Punjabi. English, though the first language of few Indians, often serves as a common tongue.

Does the Office of Religious Freedom have any teeth? (Josh Tapper, Toronto Star)
It was a Conservative campaign promise meant to promote religious freedom worldwide. The promise, the Tories said, was to give a Canadian foreign policy focus to oppressed religious minorities in places such as Egypt, Pakistan, China and Iran. But in the months since the federal election, when the Office of Religious Freedom first appeared on the Tories’ platform, the foreign affairs department has released few details about how the new body will operate or when, exactly, it will come into being.–does-the-office-of-religious-freedom-have-any-teeth

Mulcair in spotlight over dual citizenship (Sarah Leavitt, OpenFile Ottawa)
On Tuesday, news emerged that NDP leadership hopeful Thomas Mulcair holds both Canadian and French citizenship. The news gained momentum after Prime Minister Stephen Harper weighed in on the issue at a press conference saying “I am a Canadian and only a Canadian.” Mulcair responded to Harper’s comments in an interview with the Canadian Press: “We celebrate our diversity, we have a minister responsible for multiculturalism. But when push comes to shove, if you give him half a chance, the real Stephen Harper comes out (suggesting) ‘I’m more Canadian than you are because my family doesn’t have a background in different countries,’” Mulcair said. “It’s a reflection of profoundly parochial and insular thinking.”

Multiculturalism based on ‘flawed logic:’ prof (Paul Lungen, Canadian Jewish News)
Salim Mansur is an immigrant who questions open immigration; a member of a visible minority who’s a fierce critic of multiculturalism, and a Muslim who’s pained by criticism of his prophet but who would never contemplate penalizing someone for their words. Last week, the native of India delivered an impassioned defence of individual rights and Enlightenment values while denouncing multiculturalism’s collectivist mindset that would put group rights ahead of the individual.

Preserving cultural values – Regina’s Islamic school (Emma Graney, Leader-Post)
The entrance to Regina’s Huda School is like most others in the city, with photos of students, sports teams and plaques celebrating the school’s achievers. On the right, above the front desk, there’s a light-up sign. It says ‘welcome.’ But it’s in Arabic. The Huda School is the Queen City’s only Islamic school and principal Carla Natrasany says it’s Regina’s “best kept secret.” Parents from across Canada – and even as far away as Egypt – call Natrasany each week asking to enrol their children at the school, such is its reputation for excellence in the Islamic community.

Christian canaries in an Arab coal mine (Lysiane Gagnon, Globe and Mail)
This year will probably see an increased exodus of Arab Christians fleeing the mounting tide of radical Islam in the Middle East – a phenomenon that, as sad as it is, might bring a surge of new vitality to Canada’s thriving immigrant communities. Some of these exiles will choose Canada as a haven, and many of them should qualify for refugee status.

People immigrating from China has helped shape Nanaimo (Alyson Mcandrews, Daily News)
Fang is the president of the Nanaimo Chinese Cultural Society, a group with more than 1,000 members that celebrate Chinese culture, provide support for new immigrants and hold events to share Chinese culture with the rest of Nanaimo. Over the years, the impact of the society has ebbed and flowed, but the need for an organization like it has been present in Nanaimo since the 1860s when people from China started immigrating to the area to work in the coal mine.

Teenager Nam Nguyen turns heads in his senior debut (Lori Ewing, Globe and Mail)
Moncton isn’t Nguyen’s first time in the spotlight. He was a big hit when he performed in the Gala — figure skating’s traditional wrap-up event — at the Vancouver Olympics. Nguyen is the son of Vietnamese immigrants Sony and Thu, who are both engineers. He started skating when he was five, and also played hockey briefly. He also studied piano seriously until he recently gave it up to focus on skating. He has his own website, and attends a public school in Burnaby, going to morning classes and training in the afternoons.

Patrick Chan wins fifth Canadian figure skating championship with record score (Richard Foot, National Post)
He mused that his career might have been easier, and more lucrative, if he skated for China, which pays the expenses of its top athletes. His parents were immigrants from Hong Kong. Chan has since been honoured with the prestigious Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s top athlete of 2011 and was also named the Postmedia News male athlete of the year, but he has never apologized for his remarks, which still rankle some watchers of the sport. It was a poignant moment, therefore, when Chan was handed a large Canadian flag from the arena stands after his victory in Moncton. He carried the flag around the ice, and even brought it with him into his post-skate meeting with reporters.

Thomas Fagan wins diversity award (Julius Melnitzer, Financial Post)
Thomas Fagan, the Director of Diversity and Inclusion with the Ministry of the Attorney General for Ontario, is one of two recipients of the 2011 Hinton J. Lucas International Award for Promoting Diversity in the Legal Profession. The award, presented by A Call to Action Canada, will be presented to Fagan at ACTAC’s fourth Annual Conference in Toronto on Tuesday, May 8, 2012. Fagan shares the honour with Yolanda Coly, the Senior Director of Advocacy and Development at the National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms, which is based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Expand burka ban, says Muslim group (Chris Doucette, Toronto Sun)
A Muslim group is urging Canada’s immigration minister to extend his recent burka ban beyond the citizenship courts. The Muslim Canadian Congress honoured Jason Kenney at a hotel in Toronto’s west end Sunday for his decision to ban burkas during swearing-in ceremonies. But then the group asked the minister to go a step further and introduce legislation requiring any face coverings be removed to work in the public sector or do business with government officials.

Afghan teen Roya Shams, whose father was killed by the Taliban, writes about her first days in Canada (Roya Shams, Toronto Star)
My first day in Canada, I was walking in High Park and I met some girls who were running together. I gave them my salaam, the way we say hello in Afghanistan. I put out my hand and introduced myself. I was excited to see girls my own age. I told them that I had just arrived from Kandahar, and they told me that they were from Humberside Collegiate. I said that I am in Canada to study in Grade 10 and that hoped to do my best. We had just a little time together and after that I was thinking that I would like to meet other Canadian girls.–afghan-teen-roya-shams-whose-father-was-killed-by-the-taliban-writes-about-her-first-days-in-canada

Partnership will fill gaps for new immigrants (Kitchener Post)
After two years of community consultation, the Immigration Partnership, which will help facilitate the settlement, integration and community involvement of new immigrants, had its official launch last Friday. The Immigration Partnership is made up of a council, executive, three action groups and a staff team.

Diaspora bonds could help developing countries (Marc And Craig Kielburger, Times Colonist)
In 2010, immigrants to Canada sent more than $12 billion to support the families they left behind. That’s $4 billion more than all the money Canadians gave to charity, and over $6 billion more than Canada spent on international aid that same year. When the world population passed seven billion in October 2011, the UN Population Fund dedicated an entire chapter of its State of the World Population report to issues around migration. It noted the absolutely staggering amount of money immigrants around the world send back home.

Rise of the Ethnic Aisle (Jaime Woo, Toronto Standard)
In addition to diversifying the foods in Loblaws stores, a rapid expansion of the standalone T&T stores continues in suburban cities with large Asian populations: by the end of the year, Markham will have three T&T stores, with one having opened just after the new year. (The closest T&T to the downtown core is at the Port Lands, where a Knob Hill Farms used to exist.) I visited the new T&T on its opening weekend, and the store was packed with customers. Reportedly, police had to direct traffic in the parking lot in the first few days—who could have imagined such a pent up excitement for a grocery store?

Chinese community celebrates at mall 4 (Angelique Rodrigues, Edmonton Sun)
Edmonton’s Chinese community said goodbye to the rabbit and hello to the Year of the Dragon Saturday at the Lunar New Year Extravaganza in West Edmonton Mall. “We celebrate the New Year like Canadians celebrate Christmas,” said event co-ordinator Shirley Kwan. “It’s the most important festival of the year.” Hundreds of people filled the West Edmonton Mall Ice Palace Saturday to take in traditional Chinese performances, shop in the annual trade show and celebrate the new year, which officially begins Sunday.

Chinese New Year 2012: North and South traditions differ, with Canadians closer to the south (Herman Cheng, Toronto Star)
We’d watch Hockey Night in Canada or the CTV news channel, while aunts and uncles would distribute red packets or presents (if they remembered to buy them). Chinese New Year is our equivalent of Christmas, and there wasn’t much difference in the way we celebrated both. As descendants of Southern Chinese immigrants, my family was probably thought the same way as that of Chinese families everywhere. Two Chinas. And then I was introduced to China.–chinese-new-year-2012-north-and-south-traditions-differ-with-canadians-closer-to-the-south

Farshad Mohammadi’s death bares deep problems (Robyn Maynard, Samir Shaheen-Hussain And Anne-Marie Gallant, Montreal Gazette)
Precarious immigration status is another systemic issue. Federal immigration policy allows for permanent residents to be deemed inadmissible, stripped of their status and made deportable if they are found guilty of “serious criminality,” something that is not welldefined in immigration law. There can be double punishment for the same crime: imprisonment followed by deportation. We believe that poor immigrants and people of colour are especially at risk, particularly in light of social and racial profiling by police. Mohammadi was a governmentsponsored “convention refugee” from the Kurdish region of Iran. “Convention refugee” means he was granted refugee status because he could not return to Iran “because of a well-founded fear of persecution,” to use the terminology of Citizenship and Immigration Canada. He was granted permanent-resident status in Canada in 2006.


Hamilton prosecutor lashes out at lax rules, tells Hungary ‘We don’t want your criminals’ (Nicole O’Reilly, Hamilton Spectator)
The public needs to be aware of flaws in Canada’s refugee and welfare systems that allowed a group of Hungarian Roma criminals to live in Hamilton and get paid for it, says the lead prosecutor of an ongoing human trafficking case. “Disgusting, stunning, shocking, I just don’t have the words to describe,” assistant Crown attorney Toni Skarica said in court.–hamilton-prosecutor-lashes-out-at-lax-rules-tells-hungary-we-don-t-want-your-criminals

Discussion: Maybe Leon Mugesera should NOT be deported… (CCLA)
In the following paragraphs, second-year McGill law students and Rights Watch bloggers Eric Brousseau and Farid Muttalib exchange thoughts on the deportation of Léon Mugesera.

Deportation case could impact Cdn laws: Lawyers (Giuseppe Valiante, Toronto Sun)
Monday’s awaited court ruling on the fate of suspected war criminal Leon Mugesera has the potential to change the way international treaties affect Canadian domestic law. If Quebec Superior Court Justice Michel Delorme rules Canada must respect the procedures of the UN Convention Against Torture, then it would set an important precedent, said Fannie Lafontaine, law professor at Laval University in Quebec City and director of the International Criminal and Humanitarian Law Clinic.

The 13-year-old Afghan refugee took the stage (David Starr, Vancouver Province)
And then it’s Elaha Anwary’s turn. Elaha is from Edmonds Community School. She is a compact, 13-year-old Afghan refugee with dark eyes, shoulder-length black hair and a serious disposition that belies her sharp wit and sense of humour. Elaha has been in Canada since she was six, but she is still more comfortable speaking in Dari or Pashtu than English and, although she does her best to cover it, those who know her can tell that she’s very nervous. Elaha, however, is not the kind of student who lets a little thing like nerves get in her way. She is a driven, determined girl with straight A’s, and she’s been practising her speech for hours each day in front of the mirror or to her family and friends ever since she won the zone competition and the right to attend the final. Winning this competition is something she wants, but for different reasons than most.

Refugee kids get another chance (Nick Martin, Winnipeg Free Press)
When The King’s School no longer had the money to support the innovative transition program for newcomers to Canada that Wiebe started at the Transcona private school, she took the seven children into her own home. But earlier this month, they moved into a makeshift classroom deep in the labyrinth of the Calvary Temple, where the highfalutin title of Home School International adorns the place her seven students gather each morning. They’re from five countries — Eritrea, Ethiopia, Southern Sudan, Sierra Leone and Colombia.


Squeezing the middle (Ken Lewenza, The Windsor Star)
Sociologists have convincingly documented rising inequality in Canada. A lucky few – large business owners, top executives, highly specialized professionals – have captured the lion’s share of the meagre gains generated by our troubled economy. Statistics reveal the top one per cent of Canadians pocketed 31 per cent of all new income generated in 10 years. The bottom 99 per cent had to fight over the rest. Most Canadians are guaranteed nothing by our lean, mean, globalized economy. Even university-educated specialists (like accountants or programmers) have been squeezed by new technology, and by trade rules which allow corporations to outsource any job to the lowest global bidder.


Your skilled immigrant business intelligence – a roundup from (week of Jan 16th) (Maytree)
Visit to find out more about recruiting, retaining and promoting skilled immigrants.

Video: Scotiabank Benefits from Working with Professional Immigrant Networks in 3 Ways (
Professional immigrant networks (PINs) are volunteer-run, member-based associations created by and for immigrant professionals to, in part, help them find meaningful employment and achieve their professional goals. Deanna Matzanke, Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Scotiabank, says working with PINs benefits Scotiabank in three ways.

Kathy Wu – Mentor to 10 or more skilled immigrants (TRIEC)
“When I do my research for mentees I always learn something new whether it’s about new technology or about the IT business field. I definitely get something out of it.”

Video: Mentoring Moments – Jasmine Tehara, mentor, TD Bank (TRIEC)
Jasmine Tehara, a mentor at TD, reflects on how mentoring enhanced her ability to manage a diverse team, the impact of mentoring on her own career development, and how mentoring creates a rewarding opportunity to give back by helping other

N.B., Alberta poaching Toronto’s skilled immigrants (Tom Godfrey, Qmi Agency)
Recruiters from Alberta and New Brunswick are in Toronto to hire hundreds of new immigrants and other workers for jobs in the booming oil, hi-tech and construction industries. Hundreds of members of Toronto’s Vietnamese, Korean, Polish, Ukrainian and other European communities who are experienced and looking for stable work outside Ontario will be meeting with the recruiters who are in town until Sunday.

Hire Immigrants Ottawa Partners with Feds to Deliver Inclusive Recruitment Workshop (hireimmigrants)
Even well-intended employers may be missing opportunities to recruit top talent due to cultural biases and perceptions within the hiring process. To learn more on this important topic, Hire Immigrants Ottawa, in partnership with the Federal Government’s Racism Free Workplace Strategy, recently held a workshop on Inclusive Recruitment Strategies and Interviewing Techniques.

Helping trained nurses get accreditation in Windsor and Essex County (Dave Hall, The Windsor Star)
It’s taken almost two years but Tambudzai Kasiyamhuru and Marie Wood are within a few months of resuming their nursing careers thanks to a new provincial program which helps internationally educated nurses (IENs) to achieve full accreditation. Kasiyamhuru, who was educated in Zimbabwe, moved to Windsor in March 2010 to pursue a new life and “look for greener pastures.


Monday’s Headlines (Spacing Toronto)
A round up of mainstream media coverage including City Hall, Transit, Mississauga and Other News.


Mary Gordon: The Roots of Empathy (TVO The Agenda)
Empathy is second nature: Mary Gordon’s organization aims to tackle the bullying problem by increasing empathy and reducing aggressiveness in school-aged children. She joins Steve Paikin.

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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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