Immigration & Diversity news headlines – January 7, 2013


Webinar Feb 5: Chicago’s New Americans Plan: Building a Thriving and Welcoming City (Cities of Migration)
Join Adolfo Hernandez, Director, Office of New Americans, City of Chicago for a conversation about Big Ideas for making Chicago “the most immigrant-friendly city” in the U..S. In conversation with: Suzette Brooks Masters, Program Director, J.M. Kaplan Fund of New York.

News Release — Migrants Being Defrauded by Human Smuggling Criminals (CIC)
Anyone relying on human smugglers to try to get into Canada is just “throwing their life savings away,”Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney said today. “We are sending a strong message to those who are thinking of using the services of criminal human smugglers to sneak into Canada: Don’t do it. They’ll just take your money but leave you stranded,” said Minister Kenney. “Canada has a generous and open legal immigration system, but those who try to get into Canada through the back door using human smugglers will not succeed and are wasting their money trying.” Thanks to very alert policing and intelligence action, recent human smuggling operations were shut down before they could leave port.

Immigration to Canada: It’s as Easy as Online Dating! (Rachel Decoste, Huffington Post)
Dating sites have become a hotbed for scams, says the Better Business Bureau. Last month, police investigated a Hamilton man’s assault on a woman after a dating site hook-up. Dating website screens its users against the U.S. national sex offender registry, according to the Associated Press. One can imagine what provoked that drastic measure. Sometimes, matches work “on paper” or “in theory.” But reality catches up — even the best and brightest aren’t immune. Once newcomers take the bait, are there any measures to ensure the Government of Canada won’t be rendered to playing matchmaker-middleman to abusive relationships, thefts, misrepresentations of employment conditions, or scams? One wonders if Minister Kenney has considered any fail-safe measures to protect potential fledglings, usually arriving with little to no knowledge of the hazards of North American culture, vulnerable to their corporate matches vultures.

Dating Game for Wannabe Skilled Immigrants (Shane Joseph,
When I read the recent headline in our national newspaper announcing that Canada was opening a website where prospective employers and skilled foreign workers could date each other, one side of me was heartened and the other side petrified. I was heartened, because when I came to this country a quarter century ago under the category of “skilled worker,” lured by the first world, “Brand Canada” lifestyle that was on tap, there were no such dating sites. All the Canadian High Commission in my native homeland had to work from was an outdated, typed list of required skills, among them, Undertaker and Sales Representative. Well, as I have a slight problem working with dead bodies, I qualified as a sales representative. When I arrived here, I got a bit of a shock: there were sales reps coming out of all nooks and crannies, including the mass produced ones from those dreaded telemarketing sweat shops. Thankfully, I used my “selling skills” to land myself another job, not one on the High Commission’s list, thankfully.

The Invisibles: Migrant Workers in Canada (Krystle Alarcon, The Tyee)
They hand you a soothing cup of Tim Hortons, pack frozen beef in factories, pick blueberries and apples on Abbotsford farms, serve fast-food meals and wipe tables, excavate mines and drill for oil in Western Canada, and raise your kids as if they were their own. Typically paid far less than Canadians, unprotected by labour laws, and disposed of when their contracts end, these migrant labourers have become ubiquitous while remaining all but invisible. Under the Conservative government, the pool of migrant labour has expanded rapidly with almost no public discussion or oversight — yet who benefits, and at what cost?

Canada’s guest worker program could become model for U.S. immigration changes (Nick Miroff, Washington Post)
When Oscar Reyes heads north for seasonal work every spring, he no longer pays a smuggler to sneak him through the desert past the U.S. Border Patrol. He takes Air Canada. Reyes earns $10.25 an hour tending grapes and spraying pesticides at a vineyard in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, working eight months straight, seven days a week. He was one of nearly 16,000 temporary workers from Mexico imported by Canada last year, part of a government-to-government agreement that Mexican officials view as a potential model for an expanded “guest worker” program in the United States. “I come home loaded with money, and I don’t have to worry about anything,” said Reyes, who is back home for the winter with his family. New toys were scattered across the living room.

Canada Recognizes Muslim Woman Efforts (IslamOnline)
Volunteering for community help decades ago, a Canadian Muslim in Ontario’s city of Mississauga has received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal to acknowledge her passion to serve her country. “Forty-five years of my Canadian life I have been serving the community,” Malik Syed, who was awarded the medal on Friday, January 4, told “When I came to Canada I didn’t know I could do so much more in this community. This is a great country.”

Fast-track applications for immigrants have begun (Daniel Proussalidis, Niagara Falls Review)
The door is now wide open for immigrants ready to take up Canadian blue-collar jobs. The new Federal Skilled Trades Program has started accepting applications from foreigners who can help fix the labour shortage in several areas.

Ashkan Forsat, the undeportable criminal (Paul Cherry, Montreal Gazette)
On July 9, 2004, a plane touched down in Tehran carrying a man Canada no longer wanted. Ashkan Forsat was born in Iran in 1978, and his family fled the country a decade later. They asked for refugee status in Canada, settled down in Montreal and, in 1991, were granted permanent-resident status. But at age 19, Forsat had already worn out his welcome. He had been convicted of several crimes, including a violent armed robbery, and because he was not a Canadian citizen, was ordered expelled.

As the world comes to Canada, YWCA program helps newcomers adjust (Stephen Hunt, Calgary Herald)
Amal Baky arrived in Calgary from Cairo, three reluctant teenage daughters in tow, one hot day in July 2006. “I remember thinking, this is Canada!” she says. “Why is it so frigging hot?” Arunratana Wongwandanee (or Nok) arrived from Bangkok in September 2008 with two boys: a two-year-old and an eight-year-old son who had to start school on his first Monday in Canada, speaking only Thai. Her husband, an engineer, had arrived two and a half years earlier to find work — which he did, in the middle of the boom.

Combatting racist messages in the virtual world (UN Human Rights)
It is estimated that 2.4 billion of the 7 billion people in the world are currently using the Internet, according to a 2011 report from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). This has made the Internet a leading platform for the way people receive and disseminate information. Information may be accessed or sent instantly, anonymously, and anywhere. While it is undeniable that the Internet is a positive tool, it can be also used by extremist groups and individuals as a virtual battleground to spread messages of racism and hate, as highlighted by the UN Human Rights Office Special Rapporteur on Racism, Mutuma Ruteere, in his report on Racism and the Internet presented before the 67th session of the UN General Assembly.

High River schools accommodate ESL students as newcomers swell population (Richard Cuthbertson, Edmonton Journal)
Six months after arriving in Canada from the Philippines, Rowena Bermas has settled contentedly into life in High River, an agricultural services hub south of Calgary well-stocked with farm equipment dealerships and livestock auctions. Bermas, who got a job at the Dairy Queen, joined her husband here. He came nearly five years ago and works in quality assurance at Cargill, the local meat plant. Their three children attend the nearby Catholic school. “It’s such a nice place,” Bermas said of High River. “People are honest, treat us so well.”


Refugee’s haunting art that heals deep wounds (Hamilton Spectator)
Among Hamilton’s most interesting populations is our substantial Latin American one, often overlooked despite its size and the rich, disturbing complexity of its experience. Many refugees came to Hamilton, especially in the 1980s, from places like El Salvador, Chile and Peru. In their flight from their homelands they brought with them the shadows of their past, like bits of a broken nest. Haunting stories, memories and scars from awful times. Monstrous injustices, horrible crimes committed by those self-authorized to uphold the “law,” such as it was. Crimes like the brutal assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero, as he lifted the chalice during Mass.–mahoney-refugee-s-haunting-art-that-heals-deep-wounds

Reunited (CBC Metro Morning)
Guest host Piya Chattopadhyay spoke about the best thing in 2012, with Philip Gai. For him it was the reunion with his parents in South Sudan this past summer, whom he hadn’t seen for 17 years.

Why I Practice Law: Helping Refugees (Ram Sankaran, Stewart Sharma Harsanyi Immigration Blog)
The government has implemented new regulations intended to streamline the refugee process and deal with claims on an expeditious basis. Refugee claimants are now only given a matter of weeks to prepare their documentation to support their claims. While this process is desirable (from the governments point of view where efficiency is an competing value with fairness) unless claimants have access to trained and experienced counsel, we risk having individuals with a genuine fear of persecution in their home countries falling through the cracks.

The Holocaust. The Roma. Canadian refugees? (CJ News)
Some call the Nazi persecution of the Gypsies “the forgotten Holocaust.” According to Toby Sonneman, the author of Shared Sorrows: A Gypsy Family Remembers the Holocaust, “this story still has not been told fully… and this lack of recognition impacts not only how we understand the past but also how we see the present.” Sonneman adds, “Without full acknowledgment that Gypsies were victims of the Holocaust, too little attention is paid to the current situation in Europe, where Gypsies are frequently victims of prejudice and racially motivated mob attacks.”

RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrants nominations phase to open on Jan. 8, launching fifth annual awards (Canadian Immigrant)
It’s coming up on the fifth year for our RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrants Awards, which means, in the past four years, 100 immigrants have been honoured as Top 25 Canadian Immigrants. And, starting on Jan. 8, the nominations phase for the 2013 awards opens, allowing even more deserving immigrants to be honoured. Past winners have been honoured for their achievements, their philanthropy, their artistry … and this year we’re looking for more inspiring examples of immigrants who have done great things since choosing Canada as their home.


Canadian Social Research Newsletter January 6, 2013 (Canadian Social Research Links)
Canadian content
1. Ontario Regulations Coming into Force on January 1, 2013 (Government of Ontario) – December 31
2. The Ontario Community Start Up and Maintenance Benefit : An update (Government of Ontario) – January 5
3. Scrapping Welfare : The case for guaranteeing all Canadians an income above the poverty line (Hugh Segal in the Literary Review of Canada) – December 2012
4. What’s New in The Daily [Statistics Canada]:
— Labour Force Survey, December 2012 – January 4

Finally, Some Good News (CERA)
There was a little bit of good news just before the New Year when the Ontario Liberal government announced $42 million in funding to help municipalities develop and implement their housing and homelessness prevention plans for 2013-2014.


Job Applicants’ Cultural Fit Can Trump Qualifications (Logal Hill, Business Week)
Numerous studies have proven that diverse workforces give companies competitive advantages in skill, employee retention, innovation, and profits: A 2009 study by University of Illinois sociologist Cedric Herring found that companies with the highest levels of racial diversity reported, on average, 15 times more sales revenue than those with less diverse staffs. And the American Sociological Review survey warns that a focus on hiring employees with the same hobbies and backgrounds can limit diversity. To avoid this tendency, companies now struggle to codify what, exactly, they mean when they talk about cultural fit. “A skilled recruiter can override those biases,” says Amy Hirsh Robinson, principal of workplace consulting firm Interchange Group. “Sometimes you need to change your culture because there might be that one person who has a different thought that could have saved a business.”

Event Jan 16 Toronto: Beyond “Canadian Experience”: Immigrant Employment from a Human Rights Perspective (Settlement AtWork)
The Beyond “Canadian Experience” research team is pleased to present a public event on the topic of immigrants, employment and the concept of “Canadian experience” through a human rights lens.

Banner year for Connector (SmartCity Blog)
With the start of a new year, I think it’s important to reflect on the success of the past year. And there’s been no shortage of happenings for the Partnership’s Connector Program. In November, Sasha Sears and I took a road trip to New Brunswick to celebrate the Multicultural Council of New Brunswick’s launch of Connector Programs in Moncton, Saint John, and Fredericton. This brings the total to 13 cities and towns across Canada that have adopted the Connector Program. We’re thrilled that our peers in other provinces are using this program to address their labour shortages and help newcomers connect with opportunities and settle in their communities.


Looking back, looking forward (CharityVillage)
2012 will go down as something of a mixed bag of events and happenings for Canada’s nonprofit sector. Numerous changes, both proposed and now-enshrined, in law and policies for charities made for an interesting year. The good news is, we’re all still here. Doomsday did not arrive on December 21. The bad news: world economic downturn still in effect. And it’s been impacting Canadians in their wallets and subsequently in donations to nonprofits. In no particular order, below are the top five policy changes to the sector over the last 12 months, followed by a look ahead at what we can expect in 2013.

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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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