Immigration & Diversity news headlines – August 14, 2013


Brampton Bus Tour (CBC Metro Morning)
Brampton is offering free bus tours for newcomers, Metro Morning contributor J-P Davidson went along for the ride.

The new immigrant is someone who can pass as Canadian (Robin Levinson, Toronto Star)
The Karlises’ story is familiar. From Irish merchants to Ukrainian farmers, Canada’s history books are filled with tales of immigrants who braved poverty, prejudice and frozen terrain to make Canada their home. But in recent years, Canada’s immigration policy has made it harder for people like the Karlises to arrive with nothing and build a life here. Citizenship and Immigration Canada has not upped its immigration targets in seven years and has adjusted the application process to focus more on finding people who already fit into mainstream Canadian society through education, language or culture. As stories like the Karlises’ become few and far between, a new immigration narrative emerges: my own.

Africa: Stopping Hate Speech Spread Via Internet Tops Agenda of UN Anti-Racism Committee (All Africa)
The United Nations committee tasked with combating racial discrimination today opened its latest round of work in Geneva with a focus on stopping the spread of racist hate speech on the Internet and social media networks, as well as the need to use education to prevent racism and xenophobia. “Where does the right of expression, which we all want to respect, stop and the need to sanction and prevent hate speech begin? What is the point in time when one right has to recognize that it cannot be exercised if it implies the violation of another one,” UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Flavia Pansieri said in her address to the opening of the 83rd session of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD).

Canada one of the most affordable places for foreign students, survey finds (Irene Ogrodnik, Global News)
A new survey says international students studying in Canada pay some of the lowest fees amongst Western developed nations. According to research from HSBC, Australia is one of the most expensive countries for oversea students, following by the United States, United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom.

Australia encourages students to study abroad in Toronto (Yonge Street)
An Australian news organization has posted an article encourage university and college students to study abroad in Canada, naming Toronto as one of the most ideal locations. “Canada has both large and small universities, some at the heart of the country’s biggest and most vibrant urban areas; others are located in small cities with easy access to open spaces and natural beauty. Three Canadian cities – Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary – are among the world’s top five most livable cities, according to The Economist 2012 list,” the article says. Zee News interviews a number of education professionals in the story who make cases for their respective cities. Greg Coelho, the associate director, International Centre at George Brown College, speaks to coop opportunities and workplace experience, not to mention Toronto’s diverse makeup.

Unfair portrayal (Sinthu Srikanthan,
Dear MP Lizon: I’m a voting resident in your riding. Today, I received a flyer from you party that reads as follows: “Canada’s Immigration System is the world’s most fair and generous. But our country will not tolerate bogus asylum claimants and foreign criminals who abuse the generosity of Canadians… Our government is sending a clear message: foreign criminals and bogus refugees are not welcome in our country.” I find the language you have used in your flyer to be deeply offensive and inaccurate. It’s hate mongering. The flier distorts and generalizes the experiences of all immigrants. It’s an uninformed and hateful portrayal of immigrants.

New report published on immigrant entrepreneur challenges and opportunities (Yonge Street)
We know, broadly speaking, the key factors that help create the conditions for success for would-be entrepreneurs. They include access to capital, mentorship, and a very practical knowledge of day-to-day business operations. However, though Canada–and especially Toronto–have very high rates of immigration, we tend to spend less time thinking and talking about the challenges that are specific to immigrant entrepreneurs, and the conditions for success that are particularly pertinent to newer Canadians. Stepping in to the breach is North York Community House, which recently released a study (conducted with the help of Public Interest) examining precisely those issues.

Community & Culture: Mabuhay! Philippines Festival (Joel Levy, Toronto is Awesome)
Harbourfront will be home to the Mubuhay! Philippines Festival coming to the Toronto waterfront location this Friday, August 16-18, 2013. The 3 day festival will invite Torontonians to enjoy the sights, sounds, and tastes of different regions of the Philippines; each with its own distinct dialect, costumes, folklore, traditions and cuisine. The theme of this year’s festival is entitled “Ang Pinagmulan” and focuses on the evolution of art, music, dance, fashion and culinary arts and how each continues to influence Filipino culture today.

SISO trial: Payroll company says documents altered (Steve Buist, Hamilton Spectator)
The president of a payroll service testified Tuesday morning that documents produced by his company on behalf of SISO for 2010 did not match the documents submitted by SISO to the federal government. Brian Austin, president of PayTrak Payroll Services in Oakville, was the first witness called by the Crown in the trial of Morteza Jafarpour and Ahmed Robert Salama, two former bosses of Settlement and Integration Services Organization.

Canada’s prison system needs Muslim preachers who can teach peace to terrorists: Editorial (Toronot Star)
Canada has relatively few terrorists in its prisons, compared to some other countries. But the handful of people who have been convicted and jailed for terror offences are a troubling subset of the prison population who need a special brand of rehabilitation. Experts have long called for a dedicated program for Islamist extremists and others who commit violent acts in the name of religion that aims to deradicalize them, partly by providing healthy counselling that challenges the distorted religious beliefs that motivate them. Canada doesn’t have such a program, and we should.


Human Art Installation Critiques Race and Immigration in Canada (Desmond Cole, Torontoist)
Volunteers staged a “mass arrival” of white-skinned settlers to challenge Canada’s legacy of colonialism. On Monday evening, more than a hundred people in white T-shirts took over Queen Street just west of Yonge Street. They gathered together as volunteers assembled the makeshift walls of a giant sea vessel around them. Bewildered pedestrians and motorists looked on as a woman in front of the ship unfurled a flag that read “#MassArrival.” In stark contrast to the occupants of the MV Sun Sea, which landed on Canadian shores exactly three years ago carrying nearly 500 Tamil refugee claimants, all the inhabitants of the Mass Arrival ship were white. Their brief street intervention was a challenge to the apparent normalcy of white settlers in Canada, and fear of racialized migrants like those aboard the Sun Sea.

A Home for Refugees ‘Caught In-Between’: One-of-a-kind Welcome House Centre could offer stable shelter for marginalized newcomers (Jackie Wong, Megaphone Magazine)
The evening was warm and bright as three dozen members of the African immigrant community solemnly filed into the Dodson Hotel on East Hastings Street last Thursday. They were there to remember John “Mudi” Salilar, a dear friend whom many considered to be a hero, the “Robin Hood” of the community. It’s a perception that might have surprised those from outside his community who knew Salilar. And it reveals a reality for an unknown number of refugees who come to Canada fleeing horror, only to wind up at the very margins of their new society. For them, precarious shelter becomes both symptom and cause of a discouraging cycle.

Refugee recalls bleak childhood in North Korea as he adjusts to life in Toronto (Jessica Smith, Metro News)
There was no electricity — no computers, projectors or Internet — and no indoor toilets at Jake Choi’s school in rural North Korea. But when he began going to school in Canada, it was having the time to study and better himself after classes instead of having to work on his teacher’s farm that was the biggest change. “When I got in middle school, it was very hard to live because the government could not give the rationing to the people, and teachers had to make their own farm to get corn or potatoes or beans. And we, as students, had to help them. Every day after school, we did not have our free time,” said Choi from South Korea, in an email interview with Metro.

Torture, Trauma, Psychosocial Impact & Mental Health: Meeting the Needs of War and Torture Survivors (Settlement AtWork)
The Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture has opened registration for “Torture, Trauma, Psychosocial Impact & Mental Health: Meeting the Needs of War and Torture Survivors”. This specialized certificate course is composed of 9 seminar sessions, which will run once a month from September 2013 to June 2014. Participants who successfully complete at least 6 of the 9 sessions will be eligible to receive a certificate.

Calls for Papers: Forced Migration Review issue 46 on ‘Faith-based organisations and responses to displacement’ (Refugee Research Net)
Forced Migration Review issue 46 – to be published in April 2014 – will include a feature on ‘Faith-based organisations and responses to displacement’. Individuals and organisations inspired by their faith or religion to assist people in need have long played important roles in humanitarian assistance. They are – from the point of view of the recipients of assistance – in most ways no different from others who provide assistance, and yet they are sometimes seen, and sometimes want to be seen, as different.

Calls for papers: Migration by Boat: theories, politics, and memories (Edited collection) (Refugee Research Net)
Seeking original chapters for a collection tentatively titled, Migration by Boat: theories, politics, and memories, which will explore ocean travel undertaken by refugees, asylum seekers and illegal immigrants as a space and place where cultures intersect, and national boundaries and identities are reshaped, both in painful and creative ways. Migration by boat can symbolically be aligned with notions of deterritorialization that often support fears, yet also allow for renegotiations of identity, memory and feelings. Contributions from a multidisciplinary cohort are welcome. Authors are encouraged to submit provocative original writing (conceptual, empirical or theoretical) that emphasize how migration by boat is remembered and represented; effects individual and social or cultural identity; and challenges or reinforces cultural or social structures. Deadline for abstracts of 500-750 words, together with a short CV including contact details, and one example of previously published work in a relevant field is September 30, 2013.

Gay men who fled Russia seeking refuge in Vancouver (Nick Logan, Global News)
Russia’s hostile attitudes towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people has prompted two men to flee the country and seek refuge in Vancouver. Andrey Samtsov arrived in Canada last week. Samtsov, who is deaf and spoke to Global News with the assistance of a translator, said he has suffered abuse in Russia because of his orientation and, after taking part in a 2011 protest for deaf and gay rights, he was arrested by police.

Priest who escaped Syria helps fellow refugees (Agnieszka Krawczynski, The B.C. Catholic)
A priest who escaped from Syria with his life is now helping other Christian refugees flee oppression and resettle in peaceful B.C. cities. “I know what it’s like to be a refugee there,” said Father Sarmad Biloues of Sts. Peter and Paul Chaldean mission. “They lost everything, even their dignity.” Several years ago, Father Biloues worked day and night among thousands of faithful at a Syrian parish. He saw refugee camps and heard about people who had been abused or killed because they were Christian.


Anonymous job applications: the next step towards bias-free hiring (Bonnie Mah, Maytree)
Last month, the Ontario Human Rights Commission confirmed that requiring a job applicant to have “Canadian experience” is discriminatory. This has prompted a renewed discussion on discrimination in hiring, and what employers can do to find the best talent while respecting the rights of job applicants. It’s time to consider anonymous job applications.

New video series: Bridging Cultural Differences in Diverse Teams (TRIEC)
To achieve the results and overcome the challenges of a diverse team, you need to learn to bridge these cultural differences. This new TRIEC video series will give you the tools you need to build a better team and stand out in today’s diverse workplace.

Tips for Effective Cross-Cultural Interviewing (Marianne Kayed, Ottawa Business Journal)
Everyone involved in a job interview strives to get it perfect. As an employer you obviously want to hire the right person for the job. Current demographic trends indicate that immigration is increasingly accounting for net growth in the Canadian labour force. This presents opportunities for employers but at the same requires that employers review their recruitment processes and tools in other that they do not miss out on great talent.

Warrantless Inspections Are Long Overdue (Senator Mobina Jaffer, Huffington Post)
The federal government announced recently that they would be conducting more stringent and warrantless inspections of workplaces in order to crack down on human rights abuses and illegal practices. According to the Globe and Mail, they will have the power to “examine anything on the premises,” question employers and staff, request documents, use photocopiers to copy records, and take photographs or make video and audio recordings. Inspections are prompted if a government officer or the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development suspect an employer is not complying with the rules, if the employer has previously broken the rules, or if the business was chosen as a part of a random audit. This news comes after years of scathing criticism of the human rights abuses within the Temporary Foreign Worker program. According to the Alberta Federation of Labour, when the Alberta provincial government proactively conducted workplace inspections, inspectors found payroll violations in more than 50 per cent of the targeted sites (peaking in January 2010 at 74 per cent). Not only payroll violations, but testimonies from activists and migrant workers hint at other workplace violations that temporary foreign workers face, including inadequate safety training and equipment, incomplete education about their rights and workplace standards, and illegal work placement fees.

Associations recruiting workers in Ireland (Richard Gilbert, Journal of Commerce)
The B.C. Construction Association (BCCA) and the Saskatchewan Construction Association (SCA) are teaming up for a job expo in Ireland to help address skilled labour shortages in western Canada. “We are not going to a job fair, where it is set up by an outside company and employers pay to attend,” said Abigail Fulton, vice-president of the BCCA. “We are doing all the organization ourselves, so it can be as affordable as it can possibly be for our employers. We are organizing our own fair to cut out the middleman.”–associations-recruiting-workers-in-ireland

Raising Ontario’s minimum wage makes good economic sense (Navjeet Sidhu and Yvonne Kelly, Toronto Star)
Do you remember that old Saturday Night Live sketch, where comedian Chris Rock describes the premise of what it means when an employer offers you minimum wage — they are essentially saying: “Hey, if I could pay you less, I would. But, it’s against the law.” Since March, the Campaign to Raise the Minimum Wage, a group made up of community organizations across Ontario, has come together to raise the minimum wage to a standard rate of 10 per cent above the poverty line. In 2013 this would be $14 an hour. This important policy issue has aroused passionate public debate and unleashed people’s inner economist.


Building on Community-Based Innovation/Acting on the Social Determinants of Health (Bob Gardner, Wellesley Institute)
There are increasing numbers of tremendously innovative initiatives tackling health inequities across the country. Within health care, public health, Community Health Centres and leading regional health authorities have long led the way on addressing systemic health inequities in their communities, and on coordinating services, partnering and advocating to address the underlying social determinants of health. And many community organizations and some municipalities are working to improve the foundations of healthier and more equitable communities. More and more use of Health Equity Impact Assessment and other equity focused planning will also yield increasing information on existing systemic barriers and the needs of disadvantaged populations, and we’ll be seeing more and more population-specific program interventions.

A real page turner (Aaron Wherry, Maclean’s)
At his going-away party in March, Kevin Page, the first and so far only parliamentary budget officer (PBO), was presented by his staff with the parting gift of a T-shirt emblazoned with three words: “unbelievable, unreliable, incredible.” These were adjectives Finance Minister Jim Flaherty used a year earlier to describe Page’s work after the budget officer had suggested, contrary to the government’s argument, that the Old Age Security system was sustainable. If that was one epitaph for the Kevin Page era, another had been offered a month earlier, in February, when NDP MP Pat Martin addressed a meeting of OECD budget officers in Ottawa. Page, Martin said, “might well be the best friend the Canadian taxpayer has in his dogged determination and relentless pursuit of the truth in some of the most important files of our time.”

There’s No Free Lunch, and There’s No Free Retirement (Paul Moist, Huffington Post)
Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) President Dan Kelly recently wrote a blog post about the debate on the expansion of the Canada Pension Plan, in which he argues that “there’s no free lunch in this world, and indeed, there’s no free retirement.” Indeed, Kelly says, “someone has to pay for it.” Someone will indeed pay for the retirements of current and future generations of Canadian workers. Who pays and how we pay are the decisions before all Canadians and policymakers today. The contributions we fail to make in dollars today will come to us as increased financial pressure and social costs when our loved ones and neighbours struggle to make ends meet in their later years.

Poverty Means Higher Health Costs (Glen Hodgson, Conference Board of Canada)
Poverty, poor health, and resulting higher costs for the Canadian health care system are all linked together. The sooner we take incessant poverty seriously, with structural policy action—such as a guaranteed annual income (GAI) that provides income support through the income tax system—the more likely it is that Canadian governments can bring their health care costs under control and avoid significant tax increases. The evidence continues to mount that there is a clear link between poverty and cost pressures on our publicly funded health care system. The most recent input was provided by the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) in a study entitled What Makes Us Sick? This report was based on cross-country consultations held by the CMA and focused on the socio-economic determinants of health, specifically, adequate housing, nutritious food, and proper early childhood development.

The Cost of Poverty (Canada Without Poverty)
Poverty has an impact on and cost to society as a whole, from greater demands on the health care and criminal justice systems, to diminished workplace and economic productivity, to harmful and unwholesome divisions in society based on economic status and “class.” In dollar terms, this loss to Canada has been estimated to range from $72 to $86 billion annually, and is estimated to cost every individual over $2000 annually. Recent data shows that there are approximately 1 in 10 Canadians, including 1 in10 children and 1 in 4 First Nations children living in poverty. Systemic poverty is the root cause of many health and social problems in Canada. The World Health Organization has declared poverty as the single largest determinant of health. This is supported by a number of accumulated studies, including reports by Canadian Dennis Raphael. All have come to the same basic conclusion: The incidence of poverty is a severe – if not the most severe – threat to the health and quality of life individuals, communities, and societies in wealthy industrialized societies such as Canada.

Austerity chokes Canada’s needy (Nick Fillmore, Al Jazeera)
The exceedingly aggressive austerity cuts carried out by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty over the past seven years have come home to roost as Canadians, depressed and without hope, are succumbing to its worst consequences. Programme cuts have had a huge, disproportionate impact on the poor and underemployed. The massive austerity programme translates into less income, decreased services, and reduced health care for many of Canada’s most vulnerable people. It appears that more than four million Canadians – mainly the poor, the unemployed/underemployed and the under-privileged – are struggling.

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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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