Immigration & Diversity news headlines – February 8, 2012


Minding Minority Interests at City hall (Cities of Migration)
When the City of Antwerp was looking to improve its relations with minority communities, it decided to approach the Brussels-based Minderhedenforum (Forum of Ethnic Cultural Communities) for help. The city council wanted a new way to reach out to community organizations and the Forum’s ten years of work appeared to be a successful model to adapt. A number of issues were of concern to the city and minority groups. In 2009, controversy erupted after a headscarf ban in schools became world-wide news , just two years after the city banned the wearing of all religious symbols by city employees.

Video: Immigration & Canada: It’s Just Who We Are (
In his first video blog, Michael Bach, Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at KPMG, talks about The Globe and Mail article “Immigrant Drop Imperils Ontario Economy.”

Response to Jason Kenney’s Staged Citizenship Ceremony (No One Is Illegal)
Jason Kenney, Minister of Censorship and Deportation, is making headlines again with yet another parliamentary scandal. A series of access to information requests have revealed that Kenney’s office organized a bogus citizenship ceremony broadcast on Sun Media (the aspiring Fox News Network of Canada). “Let’s do it. We can fake the oath,” said one Sun staffer, and arranged for six federal bureaucrats to stand in as “immigrants.” Kenney has refused to apologize for this disgusting photo-op. This is the latest in a series of political scandals surrounding Kenney. Over a year ago, he rehired a senior aide who had been previously found to be illegally soliciting money for advertising campaigns through the “Conservative Ethnic Paid Media Strategy,” which targets immigrant voters. Not much later, another Conservative staffer sent out an email to community groups seeking people in “national folklore costumes which represent their ethnic backgrounds” to appear at a Harper photo-op.

What the fake citizenship scheme says about Harper (Thomas Walkom, Toronto Star)
The strange case of Jason Kenney and the faked citizenship ceremony continues to intrigue. Many have criticized the role of Sun TV in broadcasting, as news, a hoked-up photo-op in which federal bureaucrats posed as new Canadians. But the bizarre incident is more interesting in what it says about Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government — its bully-boy approach to the federal bureaucracy, its indifference to reality and, in particular, its unrelenting attempts to redefine the way in which Canadians view their own country. That Kenney was at the centre is only appropriate. The immigration minister has served as point man in the government’s effort to corral votes of so-called ethnics.

Faked oath-taking ceremony cast doubts on Kenney’s sincerity (Prince George Citizen)
The federal immigration ministry’s decision to fake a citizenship oath ceremony at the Sun TV studios using bureaucrats as stand-ins is either awful judgment or outright sacrilege, depending on your point of view. It’s almost impossible for those born in Canada to imagine the dreams, the hopes, the struggles and the hard work it takes to become a Canadian citizen. One would think of all the people out there, immigration ministerial staff would understand the gravity of a swearing-in ceremony — that final moment officially welcoming immigrants into the fold. Apparently not.

The Canadian Population in 2011: Population Counts and Growth (Statistics Canada)
Part 1: National portrait
Part 2: Provinces and territories
Part 3: Portrait of metropolitan and non-metropolitan Canada
Part 4: Portrait of municipalities (census subdivisions)
Additional information

Census data –

Immigration bolsters Eastern Canada’s population ranks, census numbers show (Michael MacDonald, The Canadian Press)
After decades of losing its young people to the lure of high-paying work in Ontario and Western Canada, the Atlantic region is showing signs of having turned things around, the latest census figures show. Despite the ever-present prospect of better jobs outside the region, the four Maritime provinces managed to grow their ranks during the past five years by placing a greater emphasis on attracting and retaining immigrants from abroad. Census figures released Wednesday show Eastern Canada with a growth rate of 1.9 per cent, led by Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick at 3.2 per cent and 2.9 per cent, respectively. Growth was modestly higher in Nova Scotia — 0.9 per cent, up from 0.6 for the previous five-year period. Even Newfoundland and Labrador, long a perennial population loser, managed to post its first positive growth rate since 1986 — 1.8 per cent.

Immigration dominates population growth as Canadian families keep shrinking (Sheryl Ubelacker, The Canadian Press)
For Canada, expanding our numbers means depending on immigration, which accounts for two-thirds of population expansion. About 250,000 immigrants, most of them from China, India, Pakistan and the Philippines, are accepted into the country each year. Some come from countries where economic, cultural and religious traditions have made larger families common, said Jeffrey Reitz, a professor of ethnic and immigration studies at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto. “Immigrants from Pakistan, for example, have higher birth rates, so they bring more children with them,” Reitz said. “But the birth rate falls definitely after a period of time in Canada. In other words, they assimilate to our low-child mentality. “The immigrants we get — highly educated people who are pursuing careers and want to advance themselves — their family procreation patterns are more or less the same as for the mainstream population and for the same reasons.”

Census: Newcomers drive population growth (Tobi Cohen, Postmedia News)
Harpreet Rehlan and his wife, Ravinder Kaur, are emblematic of a new trend that has come to define the changing face of Canada — two-thirds of the country’s population growth is now fuelled by immigration. Moreover, newcomers aren’t necessarily going to Central Canada in the same numbers, and are instead moving to other cities in the West, such as Regina, where the couple landed a little more than two weeks ago after saying goodbye to their families in India. “I heard Regina is a good place to live,” said Rehlan, who learned about the Saskatchewan capital from a friend who is there on a work visa.

P.E.I. learns to attract newcomers, but keeping them may prove the hard part (Melanie Patten, The Canadian Press)
The latest census numbers suggest Prince Edward Island has figured out how to attract skilled immigrants. The question now is whether Canada’s smallest province can hold on to them. P.E.I.’s growth rate increased to 3.2 per cent during the latest five-year census period, Statistics Canada said Wednesday, an increase fuelled largely by an influx of immigrants — more than 8,100 of them between 2006 and 2011, compared with just over 1,100 during the previous five years. The problem is, they don’t all stay.

Never mind the winters: Jobs, hope luring immigrants to Saskatchewan (Jennifer Graham, The Canadian Press)
From all over the world, they come to Saskatchewan with little in common except their knowledge of a couple of fundamental Canadian truths. These days — certainly if the first tranche of data from the 2011 census, released Wednesday, is any indication — Saskatchewan is the place to be. That, and it can get pretty fierce in the winter. “It was very, very cold the year we arrived,” recalled Shazia Rehman, who moved from England to Canada in 2006 when her husband, a doctor, got a job in Regina. “We arrived in February and we literally stood at the airport and I thought, ‘My life is over. I’m going to be buried under the snow. No one is ever going to find my body.’”

Education, not just immigration, key to skill shortage problem: college association (Tamara Baluja, Globe and Mail)
The dual pressures of Canada’s demographic deficit and increasing technological sophistication of the workplace means that in a decade, employers won’t be able to fill the 1.5 million available jobs with qualified candidates, said James Knight, president and CEO of the Association of Canadian Community Colleges. “And colleges should be a part of that discussion,” Mr. Knight said. “Many university graduates come to colleges after they finish their degrees to get workplace skills.” In his speech at Davos last month, Prime Minister Harper spoke of the need to prepare for demographic pressures before it reached a crisis point, and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has been working on significant reforms to the immigration system for several months, with an increased emphasis on economic immigrants. But Mr. Knight cautioned that immigration alone with not solve Canada’s skilled labour shortage.

Students in the lurch as condo crush forces school boundary changes (Louise Brown, Toronto Star)
Principal Cheryl Patterson said 90 per cent of McKee’s students speak a language other than English – mostly Korean, Cantonese, Mandarin and Farsi – and the school already scrambles to find the space for ESL, settlement workers and special education classes. It added its first portable last fall on an already crowded playground; the school already has created two shifts for lunch and the gym is so busy students can have only two gym classes a week. The school converted a specially designed music room last fall into a regular classroom because of the space crunch, said Patterson, and put an ESL Grade 3 class in a windowless room designed for library storage.–students-in-the-lurch-as-condo-crush-forces-school-boundary-changes

Shafia and cultural reflections (Gerald Jacobs, The Manitoban)
The “discussion” I referred to in the opening paragraph is, of course, the ever-permeating notion that violence and the subjugation of women go hand-in-hand with people of Islamic descent. It’s not something folks in the public eye are often keen to say directly, but they flirt with the idea using just enough plausible deniability to get away with it. In many instances, the conviction of the Shafia family was painted as a courageous victory of “Canadian values” over the broadening, shadowy reach of virulent cultural axioms that claw their way out of icky, backwards countries; a trial that declared once and for all that honour killing, the act of murdering disobedient female family members in the name of familial honour, simply has no place in Canadian culture. This is a ludicrous straw man argument — as though there were any doubt in anyone’s mind anywhere in Canada that these people would be shown leeway under our justice system, simply because they have a narrower definition of the term “murder.”

CANADA: Poll shows Muslims don’t want Shari’a law here (Anglican Journal)
Countering fears in some quarters, a University of Windsor law professor has found that North American Muslims do not wish to impose Shari’a law on this continent. In a survey conducted face-to face and by telephone for the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU), a Washington-based Muslim think tank, Dr. Julie Macfarlane interviewed 212 Muslims in Canada and the U.S. Participants ranged from imams and divorced men and women to lawyers and social workers. Macfarlane is an ISPU fellow. None of the participants agreed with the claim that Muslims wanted to impose Shari’a law on Muslims (and non-Muslims) via the secular courts, as some have observers suggested.

Expand provincial immigrant nominee program: TD economist (Heather Yundt, Postmedia News)
The income and employment gaps between newcomers and native-born Canadians are growing, but expanding the provincial nominee program could change this, a top TD economist argues. TD chief economist Craig Alexander said the provincial nominee program, which allows potential immigrants to apply directly through a province when looking to immigrate to Canada, would help attract more marketable candidates. Provinces, except Quebec, accept immigrants’ applications which are then fast-tracked through the Citizenship and Immigration Department. The use of the program varies from province to province. Quebec handles its own immigration.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada E-newsletter (CIC)
Get the latest updates on Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s programs and services, including feature stories about citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism. A new edition each season – released four times per year.

Families with Teengers: Resource Manual for Immigrant Parents and Teenagers – PDF (Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association)
This resource is designed to help immigrant parents and teenagers recognize the cross-cultural issues of teenage development.

Bringing family members to Canada: New Super Visa ‘super disappointing’ for many (Your Legal Rights/CLEO)
This Family Day, February 20, while many people are spending time with their families, those with family members who live outside Canada may be looking forward to a time when they can reunite with their loved ones. But the reality is that sponsorships can take many months, or even years, to process. In this month’s On the Radar, we outline some basic information about sponsorship, and highlight some recent changes affecting parents and grandparents.


The refugee debate Canada is not having – password required (James Milner, Embassy)
Refugees are a hot topic these days, from the work of the Immigration and Refugee Board to the tabling of anti-smuggling legislation in Parliament. Recent government statements suggest that these issues will again feature prominently in this parliamentary session.

Refugee sponsorship rules change (Gladys Terichow, Mennonit Central Committee)
In an effort to clear a backlog of refugee applications, the Canadian government is limiting the number of new applications for private sponsorships that name specific refugees. This change will affect the kind of refugees that congregations and community groups sponsor, said Ed Wiebe, national coordinator of MCC’s refugee programs.

Iranian citizen living in fear of deportation from Canada (Paul Collins, Oye! Times)
Somebody contacted me through email after they read about the threat of a Kavoos Soofi deportation. They read this story in, an Iranian weekly paper. “I did not know there was a demonstration to support him,” he wrote to me, “I would be there otherwise. The thing is Mr. Soofi is lucky he has people to support him this way. I just wanted to mention not everybody has that support. I want to mention there are more people in Toronto live in fear of deportation after living here long time. One of them is myself. “


Migrant workers: Who they are, where they’re coming from (CBC)
A flatbed truck and passenger van collided on Feb. 6 near the hamlet of Hampstead, Ont., killing 11 people — most of them migrant agricultural workers from Peru — and seriously injuring three others. Migrant workers have become an important source of labour for Canada’s agricultural sector, and they’re being recruited from a growing number of countries around the world.

Horrific accident brings concerns of migrant workers into focus: sociologist (Natalie Stechyson, Ottawa Citizen)
Monday’s deadly traffic accident in southwest Ontario shines a spotlight on the plight of migrant workers in Canada, says a sociologist specializing in the area of international migration and development. “Such loss of life is always horrendous, but I think definitely, in the case of migrant workers, it’s quite likely that they were the breadwinners in their households in Peru and possibly multiple households,” said Kerry Preibisch, a sociologist and professor at the University of Guelph in southern Ontario.

Foreign workers fill agricultural labour shortage (Nicholas Keung, Toronto Star)
They pay income tax and contribute to Canada’s employment insurance and pension plans, just like Canadian workers. But the 24,000 migrant agricultural workers who come here yearly — 90 per cent destined for Ontario — live at the mercy of Canadian farm owners and must leave the country once the planting and harvesting in fields, orchards and greenhouses is done. Migrant workers who come through the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program help grow Canada’s farm products, from tobacco to vegetables, fruits, flowers and sod, earning the provincial minimum wage or the so-called “prevailing” wage set by Ottawa.–foreign-workers-fill-agricultural-labour-shortage

Deadly collision raises labour rights questions (CTV)
Stan Raper of the Agriculture Workers Alliance says long hours, lack of protection and little to no representation leaves temporary labourers vulnerable. “We call it the three Ds: dangerous, dirty and deadly,” he told CTV Toronto. “A lot of Canadians don’t want to do this work.” He points out that exhaustion may have contributed to Monday’s collision. The workers, most of whom are believed to be from Peru, had just wrapped up a day of work at a nearby poultry farm. “These workers in particular worked in the poultry sector as chicken catchers and inoculators,” he said. “It’s long hours and very difficult work.”

FMC Takes Innovative Approach to Help Foreign-Trained Lawyer Overcome Licensing Barrier (
Last fall, when Michael Schafler, a partner at law firm Fraser Milner Casgrain (FMC), met Deepshika Dutt, an Indian-trained lawyer with a Master’s of Law degree from the University of Western Ontario, he knew immediately her talent and training would make her a valuable asset to the firm and its clients. “We and our clients insist on quality and she’s first rate,” says Mr. Schafler. Unfortunately, Ms. Dutt still needed to complete a 10-month articling position before she could be licensed to practise law in Ontario and there were no articling positions available at FMC.

London Middlesex Immigrant Employment Council Recognized at Provincial Ceremony (London Economic Development Corporation)
The Ontario Economic Development Awards took place last night (February 2) at the Ontario Investment and Trade Centre in Toronto. The London Economic Development Corporation and the London Middlesex Immigrant Employment Council (LMIEC) received Top Honour in the category of Workforce Development.


Wednesday’s Headlines (Spacing Toronto)
A round up of mainstream media coverage including City Hall and Transit.


‘Coerced’ into becoming a victim of human trafficking (Amy Judd, Global News)
“Human trafficking really, literally, goes on in my backyard.” Film director Katherine Hill came to this realization while trying to figure out what theme to tackle as part of the 168 Hour Film Project – a festival in Los Angeles where entrants have 168 hours to shoot and edit an 11-minute movie based on a theme and a bible verse. Hill, her company Eve Entertainment, and her cast and crew originally wanted to shoot a comedy, but after learning more about the subject of human trafficking in B.C. she decided she could not ignore the chance to explore that topic.

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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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