Immigration & Diversity news headlines – Sept 17, 2013


Foreign service workers enter fifth month of strike (Theodore Yan, The Varsity)
The Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers (PAFSO) continues to be embroiled in a legal strike position that began on April 2, 2013. PAFSO is the union that represents foreign service workers employed by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Development. These professionals include the employees of Canadian embassies around the world who manage and process visa applications including those of international students.

Is racism defence futile in wake of Pieters? (Yamri Taddese, Law Times)
As the Peel Law Association decides it wont seek leave to appeal from the Supreme Court of Canada following a racial discrimination ruling against it, lawyers on both sides of the matter agree on one thing: early resolution is better than prolonged litigation in cases like Peel Law Association v. Pieters.

The Insatiable Diversity in Toronto (Wandering Trader)
The diversity in Toronto was the first thing that I became addicted to when I first started living overseas many years ago. I keep telling myself it wasnt the beautiful women but the diversity. Having a range of citizens from around the world isnt unique to Toronto but I have found that the interaction of people is very distinctive. To try and show the incredible diversity of the city I made the video below. I stood at the center of the center of the Torontos Dundas Square (the equivalent would be Times Square in New York City), and asked the entire world passing by if they would stop and smile for the camera.

Halal labelling requirements are coming to Canada (Gary Gnirss, Canadian Manufacturing)
Canadas cultural and religious diversity has, without question, shaped the selection of fresh and prepared foods available today at both retail and foodservice. Religious dietary food laws are present in most major religions. These laws date back millennia and not only dictate what foods may be consumed, but also how such foods may be prepared and even cultivated. The reasons why religious food laws are so diverse are exceptionally fascinating and are the subject of much scholarly debate. Religious food law and modern food law do, however, have points where their relationship intersects.

Visitors must submit fingerprints and photos to Ottawa for visas (Nicholas Keung, Toronto Star)
Starting Oct. 23, travellers from 11 countries must submit their fingerprints and photos when applying for a Canadian visitor, student or work visa. They include those from Albania, Algeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Libya, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Tunisia. Citizenship and Immigration Canada has released a country list, following the imposition of the biometrics requirement earlier this month on Colombia, Haiti and Jamaica. Visitors from these countries must pay an extra $85 for Ottawa to collect their fingerprints and photos in their visa applications as part of Protecting Canadas Immigration System Act passed last year to tighten border entry to the country.

City sees immigration growth (Jennifer Hamilton-McCharles, The Nugget)
North Bay is one of only three cities in the province to see an increase in its immigration growth. From April to August, Don Curry, manager of the North Bay and District Multicultural Centre, said there were 210 new Canadian Citizens, permanent residents and international students who arrived in the city, compared to 148 for all of 2012. Numbers are dropping everywhere else in the province as immigrants move west, except in North Bay, Peel and York, Curry said Monday. Immigrants are arriving in North Bay for a variety of reasons.

Woman was promised a salon job, human-trafficking trial hears (Andrea Woo, Globe and Mail)
The alleged victim at the centre of a human-trafficking trial in B.C. first realized she had been duped less than a day after arriving in Canada. The woman, who cannot be named under a publication ban, had flown to Vancouver from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, after her employer, Mumtaz Ladha, promised her temporary work at a local salon. But the day after she arrived at Ms. Ladhas $4-million West Vancouver home, she was handed a set of uniforms and told one of Ms. Ladhas former housekeepers would arrive that day to show her where the cleaning supplies were located and train her for domestic work, the woman testified in B.C. Supreme Court on Monday.

Does migration change life for the better for people from poor countries? (Guardian UK)
The report collated data collected by Gallup about the experiences of 25,000 migrants and 441,000 non-migrants in 150 countries. Respondents were asked what they have gained and lost through migration, how satisfied they are with their lives, whether they find it more difficult to find jobs or start a business, and whether they are likelier to report health problems. The findings suggested the greatest gains in wellbeing come from migration to rich countries. Migrants moving from one rich country to another the UK to Canada, for instance reported the highest levels of life satisfaction, financial security, personal safety, and health. In contrast, migrants who moved between developing countries Indonesia to Malaysia, for example seemed to fare similarly or worse, according to the report. They were also identified as the group least likely to feel optimistic about their lives.

New Brunswick puts temporary hold on Provincial Nominee Program (Daily Commercial News)
The New Brunswick government is temporarily pausing the business applicant category of the Provincial Nominee Program. The pause will not affect the skilled workers stream of the program. We need to pause this category of the program to effectively manage the current inventory of applications and to ensure we are providing high quality service standards to those already in the queue, said Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Danny Soucy.

What the world can learn from Canadian multiculturalism (Murtaza Hussain, Al Jazeera)
Multiculturalism is often seen as a defining aspect of Canadian identity, and it is exceedingly rare to hear complaints and recriminations such as this one in any Canadian city. But inasmuch as this feeling of mutual separation and hostility – both among immigrant communities and “native” ones – was common throughout Europe, it led me to reflect: Why is Canada so different? What makes multiculturalism work in one place and fail in another?

Feeling at home at the YMCAs Newcomer Youth Centre (Lise Diebel, Hamilton Spectator)
Hadaya Ahmed dreams of someday working as a journalist because she loves meeting new people and learning their stories. Her welcoming personality is what makes the 16-year-old Hamilton teen the ideal choice for chairperson of the newly formed youth advisory committee for the YMCA’s Newcomer Youth Centre.


What lies behind French and English Canadas diversity divide? (John Ibbitson, Globe and Mail)
French and English Canada have long been described as two solitudes, with very different cultures. But in recent years differing approaches to multiculturalism have deepened the divide. English Canada today embraces a casual, open acceptance of different cultural practices, while French Canada is debating a charter of values that would prohibit the prominent visible expressions of religious belief whether it be through a turban, a hijab, a skullcap or a large cross in the public sector.

Are You Allowed to Be a Muslim In Canada? (Sounak Mukhopadhyay, IB Times)
You can be abused, spit on and asked to change your religion if you are Muslim in Quebec, an east-central province Canada. At least that is what Badia Senouci might have felt when she faced similar reaction at a shopping mall in the city. If Ms Senouci is to be believed, she – along with her family – was verbally assaulted, while her son was spit on because of their religion. Her family was asked to change their religion by an older woman. Ms Senouci blames it all on the proposed value charter which asks the people of Quebec to get rid of any kind of prominent religious attire.

My dear American neighbours (Neil Macdonald, CBC)
My dear American neighbours, It may just be politeness, but several of you have used pauses in discussions about what in heavens name is going on in Syria to ask me what in heavens name is going on in Canada. Well, yes. My country has been in the news a lot here lately. To put it mildly, we arent used to this sort of attention. Quebec Premier Pauline Marois holds the proposed Quebec charter of values at the national assembly in Quebec City on Sept. 10. It might not be constitutional, but that might not matter in the land of the ‘notwithstanding clause.’ (Mathieu Belanger/Reuters) Lets start with Quebec, where the provincial government wants to ban the wearing of ostentatious religious symbols most notably headscarves and turbans on all government employees, which in Canada includes university professors and doctors.

Jason Kenney blasts Quebec values charter as Monty Python-esque (Michael Woods,
The federal government continues to blast Quebecs controversial Charter of Values, with Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney saying it approaches Monty Python-esque absurdity. I think people have a hard time understanding how a Jewish doctor wearing a kippa or a hospital worker wearing a turban gets in the way of their work, their responsibilities or dealing with the public, Kenney told CTVs Question Period on Sunday. It just doesnt make sense. The proposal, unveiled last week, would require Quebecers giving or receiving public services to not wear face coverings, and would also forbid public servants from wearing ostentatious religious symbols in the workplace. The three major federal political parties have denounced the proposed legislation.

Proposed charter of Quebec values echoes views of religious symbols in Europe (Matthew Fisher, Vancouver Sun)
Premier Pauline Marois proposed Charter of Quebec Values, which forbids public officials including teachers, doctors and police from wearing most religious symbols and headgear, finds its echo across western Europe today. In what Germans have dubbed the burqini ruling, the countrys highest administrative court ruled last week that notwithstanding their constitutional right to religious freedom, Muslim girls can be compelled to take part in mixed-sex swimming classes at school. To guard the modesty required of their faith, the court suggested that Muslim girls go to the swimming pool attired in a black full-body suit known as a burqini. But the specific legal issue that the court considered was an individuals constitutional rights against the states obligation to educate all children.

What motivated Pauline Marois to take such a risk? (Chantal Hébert, Toronto Star)
It is not necessary to wait for the dust to settle on the Parti Québécoiss proposed values charter to know that it is the sovereigntist partys riskiest gamble. The plan has deeply divided the pro-independence movement. It clearly offends the core values of a significant and articulate segment of the partys base. It has scores of long-time sovereigntist activists wringing their hands in despair over potentially irreparable damage to their cause. Regardless of the short-term political outcome of the operation, the PQ that will emerge from this identity-related venture will be a fragmented version of the one that entered it. It will be hard to put the pieces back together for another referendum bid.

PM Harper on PQ ‘values’ plan: I don’t see it going anywhere in its current form (Winnipeg Free Press)
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has predicted that the Parti Quebecois’ controversial values charter will fail because of opposition within Quebec. The prime minister made his first remarks since the Quebec government released a plan last week that would bar people with religious headwear from working in the public service. Harper was asked during a news conference Monday about the controversial proposal, following the release of a poll on the subject. “I do not see the charter in its current form going anywhere,” Harper told the B.C. news conference. “I think the common sense of Quebecers will force this towards a reasonable conclusion as the debate progresses.”

Poll on Charter of Quebec Values finds province profoundly divided (Philip Authier, Montreal Gazette)
The province is split over the Parti Québécois governments new values charter proposal, a new poll shows. A Léger Marketing poll done for the QMI news outlet shows Quebec profoundly divided, with 43 per cent saying they favour the project and 42 per cent opposed. The number is a shift from a similar Léger poll in August where 57 per cent of Quebecers said they believed tabling a charter of values this fall was a good idea.

Proposed Quebec values charter threatens all Canadians rights, Muslims say (Johanna Weidner, The Record)
Fauzia Mazhar hopes more Canadians stand up against Quebec’s proposed ban on public employees wearing religious clothing as a threat to this country’s fundamental values. The Kitchener woman said the local Muslim community is troubled by the plan and watching the situation closely, but warned not just those who wear hijabs, turbans and kippas or other religious clothing or symbols should be concerned.


Marwa O’da And Wissan Nassar, Refugee Couple Torn Apart By Conflict, Reunited In Canada (VIDEO) (Meredith Bennett-Smith, Huffington Post)
Theirs was a romance that defied distance, war and statelessness. Marwa O’da and Wissan Nassar first met seven years ago when they were living in Syria, according to Canadian news channel CBC. “She was beautiful,” Nassar told CBC. Looks aside, the young couple also shared plenty in common. Both third-generation, stateless Palestinians, O’da and Nassar ended up in Syria after stays in Iraq, the Burnaby NewsLeader reported this summer. Two years after meeting, the couple was engaged. But like thousands of other Palestinian refugees, Nassar and his family were sent to the Al Tanf refugee camp between the borders of Syria and Iraq. When the United Nations refugee agency closed Al Tanf in 2010, Nassar’s family was taken in by Canada, leaving O’da behind.


The Dos and Dont of Using Foreign Languages in the Workplace (Diversity and Inclusion at Work)
How do you promote inclusion in a workplace where employees are speaking a multiple of languages? How do you create policies that are fair? What is legal? What is not? What is a good practice and what is exclusionary? The tips below will help you to create an understanding of what are respectful language policies.

Workers demand $14 minimum wage (Ben Spurr, NOW Toronto)
The mood outside Dufferin Mall on Saturday afternoon was festive, with an Afro-Brazilian drum band banging out songs, kids playing carnival games, and free popcorn and samosas served to the crowd of about 60 people. It looked more like a street party than a protest, but the message of the event was serious enough. Poorly paid workers and their supporters had gathered to demand an increase to the Ontario minimum wage, which has been frozen at $10.25 since 2010.


How Important is Earned Income? Very. (Imagine Canada)
Imagine Canada has just released a report about the earned income-generating activities of Canadian charities. Among many other findings, it demonstrates just how key earned income activities are for the charitable sector. Over three quarters of charities surveyed (77%) reported engaging in at least one earned income activity and said that earned income activities accounted for almost one third (31%) of total revenues, on average.

Vital Ideas (Toronto Community Foundation)
Increasing the effectiveness of high-impact initiatives in Toronto through one-time strategic capacity-building grants Vital Ideas grants are awarded to high-impact programs or organizations that have a solid track record of success making Toronto a better place to live, work, learn and grow.


NDP holds question period on Twitter (Evan Solomon, CBC)
Opposition New Democrats launched a virtual question period through social media Monday afternoon as a way to hold the government to account, following Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s decision to prorogue Parliament. NDP Leader Tom Mulcair and his party critics tweeted the questions they would have asked the government if the House of Commons were sitting this week using hashtag #QPQ. Mulcair was first up with a series of questions for Harper about the Senate expenses scandal beginning with this question: “On June 5th, @pmharper told the House no one in his office other than Nigel Wright knew about the $90K. Does the PM stand by this?” #QPQ

Scientists to protest Monday to highlight state of Canadian research (Ivan Semeniuk, Globe and Mail)
The lab coats are coming. In a series of demonstrations to be held across the country on Monday, groups of scientists and science advocates are aiming to put their concerns about the state of Canadian research in the public spotlight and put politicians on notice. Organizers of Stand up for Science said that rallies are planned for 16 cities from Halifax to Vancouver and as far north as Yellowknife.

Meet the Broadbent Fellows (Rick Smith, Broadbent Institute)
Though its true that political and policy debates can get wild and woolly, here at the Broadbent Institute we believe that always grounding arguments in the best available facts is of paramount importance. So its with considerable pride that today the Institute unveils the Broadbent Fellows a diverse, multidisciplinary group of distinguished scholars, policy experts, and leaders from Canadian civil society who will inform the Institutes research and policy agenda. Fellows will contribute their expertise to further our efforts to impact public debate in support of progressive change and create innovative approaches to making our country a better, more prosperous, place for all Canadians.

Parkdale Against Poverty hosts meet Sept. 23 (Inside Toronto)
Parkdale Against Poverty is hosting a public meeting and meal to discuss strategies to build a movement to defend Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) and to raise social assistance rates.

Poverty increases in contentious National Household Survey (NUPGE)
The Survey showed that those living in the poorest neighbourhoods are disproportionately visible minorities, immigrants and single-parents and that women continue to earn less than men, even though they achieve higher levels of education.

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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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