Immigration & Diversity news headlines – January 9, 2013


Six Ontario environmental nonprofits debut webinar series to showcase diversity initiatives (Yonge Street)
In early 2012, the Sustainability Networkawarded “mini-grants” to six Ontario environmental nonprofits. The grants were presented to organizations made up of, or actively working with, under-represented communities. Now, just under a year later, each grantee has produced a one-hour webinar to show other organizations what they’ve learned. The “mini-grants,” so-called because the money awarded was relatively minimal (about $500 per organization), are part of a larger Sustainability Network Initiative called the Environment and Diversity Project. Launched in 2009, the initiative helps Ontario’s environmental NGOs better reflect a diversity of communities.

Immigration the best gift Canadians can give (Times Colonist)
I remember blindly following my friends into Grade 8 shop class. Rather quickly, I found I lacked any skill handling heavy machinery to cut pipes or bend metals. My parents, like so many others across Canada, steered me away from a career in the trades. The Canadian government has just announced the introduction of a special visa category to attract foreign workers qualified in the skilled trades. Beginning this year, Canada hopes to attract as many as 3,000 new immigrants on an annual basis under the new category. And many of them will be offered a job before they arrive.

Evaluation of Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s Visitor Visa Program (Settlement AtWork)
This report presents the findings of the evaluation of CIC’s Visitor Visa Program. This evaluation was completed to meet the requirements of the Directive on the Evaluation Function, and the commitments made in CIC’s Performance Measurement and Evaluation Plan (PMEP) relating to the visa imposition on Mexico.

Revised Immigration and Refugee Board Policies and Guidelines (Settlement AtWork)
The IRB has recently cancelled or revised various policies and guidelines, mostly in light of the changes that came into force December 15, 2012. Also, the Guideline 8 on vulnerable persons has been amended to include a reference to LGBTI individuals being potentially vulnerable persons.

Skilled immigrants face barriers to use their skills in Canada, says Ontario’s fairness commissioner (The Record)
It’s important to be objective and impartial when considering allowing new Canadians to use their professional skills here, says Jean Augustine, Ontario’s fairness commissioner. Internationally educated professionals often face barriers preventing them from using their training and education after immigrating, a Kitchener press release says. Thursday, Augustine plans to speak about the importance of fair practices in the licensing and registration of new Canadians entering the regulated professions in Ontario. “Improvements in the licensing process for newcomers make a difference far beyond the individuals themselves,” she said in a statement.–skilled-immigrants-face-barriers-to-use-their-skills-in-canada-says-ontario-s-fairness-commissioner

RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Awards – Nominations Now Open! (CBC)
Nominations for the RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Awards are now open! The annual awards program recognizes and celebrates the stories and achievements of outstanding Canadian immigrants across the country who inspire newcomers and Canadians from all walks of life. Last year 28,000 Canadians cast their votes to nominate their colleagues, friends and peers in the awards initiative. Winners from previous years include Dragons’ Den’s Robert Herjavec, politician Olivia Chow, wrestler Daniel Igali along with entrepreneurs, artists, community volunteers and many more.—nominations-now-open.html

Soon, online job pool for immigrants to Canada (The Hindu)
Canadian government is planning to roll out an online job portal that will serve as a matchmaker between potential economic immigrants to Canada and employers looking to hire from abroad. Canada’s Minister for Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney said the system, which takes a cue from New Zealand and Australia, will be in place by the end of next year. On the sidelines of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Kochi on Tuesday, Mr. Kenney told The Hindu that immigrants can submit their applications and profile online and Canadian employers can hire candidates based on education and language proficiency from the pool.

Influx of immigrants puts schools’ English literacy instruction to the test (Richard Cuthbertson, Calgary Herald)
As the province continues to be a beacon for immigrants, there are concerns that the children of these newcomers are not picking up the full scope of English language literacy skills in Alberta classrooms. Alberta schoolchildren from households that don’t speak English continue to score well in science and math, but are sliding back from their peers in reading, according to recent international test scores. A report into those scores also found they are being outperformed in Grade 4 reading by English Language Learner (ELL) students in British Columbia and Ontario.

Toronto’s diversity ensures Idle No More peacefully co-exists in Toronto (Jessica Smith, Metro News)
The need to co-exist in a large city has made the Idle No More movement more diverse and less confrontational in Toronto, says a key organizer. About 100 members of the Idle No More movement gathered Tuesday night for the first weekly teach-in at the Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre. The group included aboriginal people and non-aboriginal allies. At the beginning of the meeting, everyone introduced themselves by their name and heritage.

Feds propose tougher rules for international student programs (Janet Steffenhagen, Vancouver Sun)
Late last month, the federal government announced plans to address concerns about Canada’s international student program. It is promising a crackdown on disreputable post-secondary schools and foreigners who are entering the country fraudulently. “Attracting the best and brightest young minds from around the world is key to the continued success of Canada’s economy and long-term prosperity,” Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said in a news release. “But there are too many stories of international students who pay a lot of money and leave their families back home to study in Canada, only to find out they have been misled. These changes will help us better protect international students and the reputation of Canada’s post-secondary education system by making sure that international students are coming to quality institutions that comply with basic standards of accountability..”

My Starbucks name (The Economist)
S.A.P. doesn’t order a nonfat latte (easy on the foam) every morning. “Sam” usually does, though. I have a relatively popular male name: not ubiquitous, but familiar enough—in India. Stateside, Sam sounds vaguely related, so I’ve taken it on as my Starbucks name. Sam orders my coffees and makes restaurant reservations for me. He introduces me in short-lived conversations. His name is quick and perfectly dull, and unfailingly spelled correctly by the barista on my cup. I envy Sam sometimes. I probably don’t have to introduce the idea of a Starbucks name to my uncommonly named brethren. It’s tiresome to spell out my name every day. It’s worse still when spelling it doesn’t help. Ah, to be a Joe or a Ben: to live an easy monosyllabic life. Would I introduce myself to strangers more readily? Would I mumble my name with impunity? Would I at last find a coffee mug with my name on it?

Human Library. Real people. Real conversations. (CBC)
Human Library Books include: Abshiro Abdille Abshiro Abdille now lives in Halifax where she studies business at Mount Saint Vincent University (MSVU), but she was born in Somalia, and grew up in a refugee camp in Kenya with her mother, father, three sisters and a brother. After finishing high school, Abshiro worked for UNHCR and the Lutheran World Federation in the refugee camp from 2008-2011, helping people who had lost everything. MSVU sponsored both Abshiro, who came to Halifax in August 2011, and one of her sisters, Halima, through the World University Service of Canada (WUSC) sponsorship program. Even though she hopes her entire family will be able to come to Canada in the next few years, she wants to return to Kenya some day to continue to help refugees.

Edmonton mentoring program aims for more women in politics (Gordon Kent, Edmonton Journal)
The city hopes to boost the number of female politicians in Edmonton through a cutting-edge program matching women with city council mentors. Opening the Potential, started as a test last year with support from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, is aimed at women aged 18 to 35 interested in running for office, working on a campaign or volunteering for a civic board. They work with a council coach, listen to debates, attend meetings, and find out what holding civic office involves. Cristina Stasia is one of nine women taking part in the program this year with eight councillors (Coun. Kim Krushell has two proteges).


Canadian minister cuts double image in Colombo (
Beginning a ministerial visit to Colombo since the Vanni War, the Canadian government once again prepares itself for climbing on the geostrategic bandwagon that detracts or deviates from delivering righteous solutions to genocide-afflicted Eezham Tamils, political observers in the island commented. They cited the double image cut by the visiting Canadian Minister portrayed in two separate news releases of the Canadian government: one denying the right to flee to the people subjected to genocide and the other showing concern to ‘human rights’ situation in the island, but both upholding integrity of the genocidal State. A different set of citations of the minister appeared in the SL government news release. The minister also cut a double image when media quoted him referring to “Sri Lankan immigrants” and “Tamil Canadians.” The Canadian Minister for Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, Jason Kenney’s visit to Colombo, Saturday to Monday, follows Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr’s visit in mid December.


Law Leaves Migrant Workers Dangling Precariously (Krystle Alarcon, The Tyee)
Canada has created a two-tiered system of labour rights though its Temporary Foreign Worker program started in 2002. As reported in the previous two articles in this series, the fact that migrant workers have fewer protections and options has led to abuses. Short of shutting down the program, a monitoring system that regulates the Temporary Foreign Worker Program to ensure employment standards are respected is an obvious fix. But Charles Gordon, the lawyer who represented the Latin American construction workers who were confirmed by the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal to have been exploited, isn’t optimistic. Gordon, whose clients’ case was profiled in yesterday’s article, says there is no “political appetite” to create a rigorous monitoring system.

On “Cultural Fit,” Professional Newcomers, & Constructive Dismissal (Victoria Hetherington, Orange LLP)
“I hired someone as a manager, and it created a lot of tension because he didn’t fit in. People tried to alienate him because they weren’t interested in him as a friend,” one employer reveals. Wait, what? While we understand that happy employees are less likely to quit, saving rehiring and retraining money, a growing emphasis on social dynamics opens avenues for workplace bullying through exclusionary tactics and clique-like behavior – and, since “cultural fit” is located within a very specific set of cultural references, newcomers are left vulnerable. Furthermore, an increased emphasis on “cultural fit” in job interviews might beget racial or cultural discrimination. One workplace guide outlines common cultural stereotypes: people from China are often stereotyped as “hardworking, diligent;” people from Italy are “passionate, explosive,” and so on. Keeping personal space or avoiding eye contact is read as distant and cold in some countries, but as appropriately respectful in others; shaking one’s head means something different in India than it does in Canada. Non-verbal communication and culture – or gestures, movements, tone of voice, eye contact and facial expressions vary in meaning across cultures; a working awareness of cultural difference is crucial both during job interviews and within the workplace. A multicultural workplace is one that not only recognizes but actively encourages people from a variety of backgrounds to retain their language and culture. How does ‘cultural fit,’ with its emphasis on very specific set of Western cultural references, work towards this goal? Wouldn’t it encourage all kinds of problematic homogeneity in the workplace?


Wednesday’s headlines (Spacing Toronto)
A daily round up of mainstream media news on Gardiner Expressway, Downtown Casino, G20, City Hall and Other News.

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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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