Immigration & Diversity news headlines – Sept 23, 2013


From Tibet to Toronto (Ameya Charnalia, The Varsity)
Nawangs* decision to come to Canada was made in the hope of securing a better future for herself and her children. Before she arrived, however, she endured a decade of moving between India and Nepal as a political refugee. At 15, she set out on foot from Lhasa in Tibet, trekking for over three weeks through the high passes of the Himalayas with a group of strangers, leaving her family behind to escape into Nepal with the help of a paid agent.

SUCCESS, at 40, is an agency in transition (Chuck Chiang, Vancouver Sun)
One of the hardest part of being an immigrant service organization is that makeup of the community changes over time and one has very little control of the shifting trends. Organizations can flourish overnight to meet a sudden demand, but they also have to be able to shift, expand and adjust to survive in the changing environment, or be left behind. When SUCCESS launched in 1973, it enjoyed a meteoric rise in Vancouvers (and Canadas) non-profit immigration services scene.

To Lead, to Engage and to Serve (Vancouver Sun)
Four decades ago, a handful of volunteers gathered in a small room to see how they could help newcomers, at a time when such assistance was scarce. The group was able to secure a federal grant, and with it, it began helping immigrants settle in the community, become self-reliant and contribute back as much as they could. With each decade, there were new challenges, but also new triumphs and achievements. Today we serve clients in 20 languages, at more than 20 services locations across BC and internationally, with 131,935 client services provided last year.

432 to become new Canadians (Kelowna Daily Courier)
Citizenship and Immigration Canada will welcome 432 new Canadian citizens during a series of citizenship ceremonies at Kelowna’s Rotary Centre for the Arts Monday through Thursday.

Minister Kenney issues statement on the 25th anniversary of the Canadian Government’s Apology for Japanese Internment during the Second World War (CIC)
On this date in 1988, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney rose in the House of Commons to formally apologize and offer compensation for the forced removal of thousands of Japanese Canadians from the West Coast during the Second World War, the subsequent seizure of their property, their wrongful incarceration and the disenfranchisement of their community. He said: I know that I speak for Members on all sides of the House today in offering to Japanese Canadians the formal and sincere apology of this Parliament for those past injustices against them, against their families, and against their heritage, and our solemn commitment and undertaking to Canadians of every origin that such violations will never again in this country be countenanced or repeated.

News Release Canadian student wins international poster competition on Holocaust remembrance (CIC)
Canadian students finished in first and second place in an international poster competition to commemorate the Holocaust, Minister of State for Multiculturalism Tim Uppal announced today on behalf of Jason Kenney, Minister for Multiculturalism. The poster created by Caitlin McGinn, a student at Emily Carr University of Art and Design, was selected as the overall winner in the competition. The winning design depicts a series of superimposed concentration camp documents. The poster illustrates how the documentation from concentration camps provides tiny glimpses into the lives of individuals who may no longer have a voice to tell their own story.

Illegal immigrant children in Quebec: No work at home, no school here (Catherine Solyom, Montreal Gazette)
Sebastián and Marta had already missed two mortgage payments on their house in León, Spain, when they decided to try their luck as economic refugees in Montreal. Theres just no work in Spain or even in Europe anymore, Sebastián explained, and if you miss three payments, they take your house away but you still have to pay your mortgage. Had we not come here, wed be living under a bridge right now. As it is, theyre living with their two sons in a dark, cramped basement apartment with few luxuries, having traded the view of their pool and the caramel hills of northern Spain for a small terrace that gives on to a parking lot.

Undocumented youths backs are against the school wall (Catherine Solyom, Montreal Gazette)
Among the throngs of students back in high school this month, Oscar and Mariana blend in easily with the crowd Oscar, 15, with his teenage swagger, a hip-hop cap perched eternally on his head; Mariana, 14, with a bright smile and brighter bling necklace, the word LOVE wrapped in gold around her neck. But these siblings carry a heavy secret they dont dare tell even their closest friends and favourite teachers at the school they have attended for the last three years: Theyre not supposed to be here.

Mixed marriage in Canada: Forces for and against (Douglas Todd, Vancouver Sun)
They believe love can overcome difference. Thats one reason inter-marriage is a key hope of tolerant, open-minded North Americans. Supporters of inter-marriage maintain its time to transcend old ethnic, cultural and religious barriers. They feel the tide toward mixed relationships is good and inexorable. Indeed, mixed unions are on a roll in North America. Mass migration has dramatically brought people of contrasting ethnicities and religions closer together.

NOVA SCOTIA A-Z: Ambition to succeed (Chronicle Herald)
Their first meeting was not what you would call auspicious. Mary, a recent immigrant from Lebanon, was working as a clerk in a grocery store on Gottingen Street in Halifax. Halim, an ambitious entrepreneur, had heard of the young womans arrival from his home country and decided to make her acquaintance. He came bearing gifts: bread from his bakery, the Fancy Pastry. He didnt exactly get the reception he was hoping for.

Little Portugal Book (CBC Metro Morning)
Anthony De Sa’s new book, “Kicking the Sky”, takes us into the laneways of Little Portugal, Metro Morning’s Aparita Bhandari went on a tour.

Right to Know: A look at the history of racial stereotyping sends a reminder about another danger of war (W. Vincent Clifford, Ottawa Citizen)
On June 10, 1940, Italys fascist dictator, Benito Mussolini, sided with Germany in the Second World War. Canada immediately declared war against Italy, and thousands of law- abiding Italian-Canadians were instantly labelled as enemy aliens under the War Measures Act. RCMP officers wasted no time in identifying and rounding-up Italian-Canadian men. Before the wars end, more than 600 Italian-Canadians were forced into internment camps. The families of the interned were given no idea as to when their loved ones would be released. The War Measures Act granted sweeping powers to the government based on the existence of war or as required for national emergencies. The law also legalized the power of arrest for anyone deemed an enemy alien. Many of the Italian-Canadians scooped up by the RCMP were held for up to three years, with no formal charges laid.

Immigration policy addresses issues of immigrants success (Pradip Rodrigues, CanIndia)
Last week the National Housing Survey for 2011 revealed what has long been suspected: 15 per cent of Canadians live in poverty, 41 per cent visible minorities/newcomers who are particularly hard hit. The data compelled Minister for Immigration Chris Alexander to appraise members of the press about the issue of concern- immigrant success. The current immigration policy has been designed keeping that in mind. Which is why there is an emphasis on aligning the intake of immigrants based on their job prospects.

Making T.O. a better place (Lorrie Goldstein, Toronto Sun)
In this life you can talk, or you can do. You can talk about making Toronto a better place or you can do something about it. Lloyd Seivright believes in doing, not talking. So from the day he emigrated to Canada from Jamaica in 1969, hes been doing exactly that.

Roundtable: Building Collaboration to Combat Human Trafficking in the City of Toronto:Oct 28-29 (FCJ Refugee Centre)

Former CIC mandarin says several public policies came from ministers anecdotes – (Andrew Griffith, Multicutlural Meanderings)
Andrew Griffith offers an insiders account about the major cultural shift in the public service when the Conservatives formed government back in 2006.


Quebec Teens Feel Bullied By the Charter of Values (Huffington Post)
Like most religious minorities in Quebec, I am only slightly shocked by the proposed charter of values. After all, I made the decision to wear hijab in 1995 when I was in high school, the year after Emilie Ouimet was sent home from school because she wore the hijab with her uniform in a Quebec school. I am familiar with people being afraid of a piece of cloth. Since September 10, 2013, the day that the Charter of Values was proposed in Quebec, I have been ill at ease; because no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t muster up the guts to talk to my 12-year-old daughter about the charter. How in the world would I convey to her that if she ever decides to exercise her freedom of religion, she would have to rethink her education plans, and career options? That she lived in a free country that might make her values into a stigma.

Quebecs war on religion Charter Round-Up (Andrew Griffith, Multicultural Meanderings)
Some good commentary and analysis in both English and French media today, starting with Martin Patriquin in MacLeans, laying out the issues and politics, an opinion piece by Emma Teitel (spice of life) theme, and an analysis of the Quebec heartland and the Charter in the Globe, suggesting the reality may be more complex.

Values Charter: Sovereignists, Amnesty Intl, France (Andrew Griffith, Multicultural Meanderings)
Quiet day. Reflecting the divisions among the sovereignists, those in favour of the Charter are planning their strategy, and aim a cheap shot at Gérard Bouchard.

Amnesty International warns Quebec values charter would violate fundamental rights (Benjamin Shingler, National Post)
Amnesty International is wading into the debate over Quebecs controversial charter of values, arguing that the plan would limit fundamental rights and further stigmatize vulnerable women. The Canadian branch of the human-rights organization says the Parti Quebecois proposal would violate Canadian and international law for infringing on freedom of expression and religion. The PQ plan announced earlier this month would prohibit public employees from wearing obvious religious symbols, including the hijab.

Let courts weigh Charter of Quebec Values, poll shows (Christopher Curtis, Montreal Gazette)
Quebecers remain deeply divided over the Parti Québécois’s proposed secularism charter but also over the question of religious freedom in general, states a Léger poll conducted for The Gazette and the Canadian Insititute for Identities and Migration (CIIM). A little more than half of respondents, 52 per cent, said they’re in favour of the charter’s ban on overt religious symbols in public institutions. But the majority, or 56 per cent, of Quebecers also say they think the charter should be submitted to the courts to test its constitutionality.

Immigration detainees in Lindsay jail stage protest and hunger strike (Nicholas Keung, Toronto Star)
GTA immigration detainees recently transferred to a jail in Lindsay, Ont., held a protest and staged a hunger strike this week over what they describe as unfair treatment. About 200 inmates being held in Greater Toronto have been relocated to the Central East Correctional Centre since August because of a coming closure of the Toronto West Detention Centre, a move critics say isolates the detainees and keeps them from receiving help and support. The detainees staged the protest at 11 a.m. Tuesday, according to a memo from the Lindsay facilitys administration to the Canada Border Service Agency. Negotiators were brought in and the inmates returned to their cells at 10 p.m.


Torn from family, community leader mulls leaving Hamilton (CBC)
A Hamilton community leader is at a crossroads, forced to choose, he says, between a future in his adoptive hometown and being reunited with his mother. Arriving in Canada in 2006 as a government-sponsored refugee, Leo Johnson has studied at McMaster, started a charity linking newcomers with longtime local residents, and has enlisted Hamiltonians in an effort to build a groundbreaking library and learning centre in his native Liberia.


Self-Declaration Form asks Manitoba Hydro Employees to Disclose Immigrant Status (
In 2007, Manitoba Hydro became the first company in the province to start tracking immigrants in the workforce. The company uses a self-declaration form, asking employees if they are immigrants and if they are, what year they immigrated and their country of origin. In 2007, 6.7 percent of employees were immigrants. By 2012, that proportion had increased to 8.1 percent of Manitoba Hydros more than 6,000 employees.

Work permits for Canada can be a trap (Times of India)
Immigration dreams to Canada could well turn out to be a nightmare. Forgetting to exercise prudence, several aspiring immigrants were taken for a ride that cost them hefty, hard-earned money. Parthiv Thakker, 29, a resident of New SG Road, received a mail from a Canadian company offering him a job in Canada. After sending the required details to the company, he received a phone call from Quebec, a French speaking province of Canada. He was told that his recruitment process is on and they are awaiting approval from the government.

Irish welders sent home from Long Harbour (Ashley Fitzpatrick, The Telegram)
The 26 workers were all sent home by their employer in Newfoundland and Labrador, KBAC Constructors. The company is a partnership of Peter Kiewit Infrastructure Co., BMA Constructors a Black & McDonald-Alberici joint venture and G.J. Cahill and Company Ltd. The Irish welders were recruited by KBAC under a federal permit for temporary foreign workers, after skilled trade unions were unable to supply welders with the same skills from either Newfoundland and Labrador or other parts of Canada.

Nova Scotia amends foreign worker rules to exempt some recruiters and employers from licensing and registration requirements (Stewart Mckelvey,
On May 19, 2011, Nova Scotia’s Labour Standards Code was amended to protect foreign workers from exploitation by recruiters and employers. These amendments imposed a requirement for third-party recruiters to obtain a license from the Province to recruit foreign workers for employment in Nova Scotia. They also introduced a requirement for employers to register with the Labour Standards Division before employing a foreign worker in Nova Scotia. The recruiter licensing process became mandatory on May 1, 2013, and employers of foreign workers have been required to register since August 1, 2013.

Lower wages for newcomers becoming a loophole for employers (Pradip Rodrigues, CanIndia)
The Minister for Immigration Chris Alexander says he disagrees with the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) position on asking for Canadian Experience to be discriminatory. According to him, newcomers from other countries who move to an advanced one like Canada need time to understand the way things are done here. There could be a learning curve and employers need to know what if any level of Canadian experience the new immigrant has before he or she can be entrusted with job responsibilities. While on the surface this reasoning is understandable, the implications are troubling because it gives employers a legitimate reason to underpay a newcomer several thousand dollars less than a Canadian-born worker. This is inherently unfair. Employers save millions of dollars each year thanks to immigrants who have no choice but to accept lower wages based on this flawed logic.

B.C.’s liquefied natural gas plan boosts immigrant workers (Justin Tang, Times Colonist)
While Premier Christy Clark repeated her pledge Friday that British Columbians will be first in line for high-paying jobs in the liquefied natural gas industry, her government is also quietly researching how to fill vacant positions with immigrant workers. The Ministry of Natural Gas Development is forming a project team and action plan to help foreign workers get their qualifications recognized in B.C. and be encouraged to work in the LNG industry, according to a bid document posted on a government website. Foreign workers are essential to filling B.C.s looming labour shortage, the document says. Theres a gap between the 608,000 students set to pass through the provinces education system by 2020, and the more than one million job openings during that period, the government said.


Rooftop garden feeds hundreds at local community centre (Susan Hay, Global News)
This past spring a rooftop garden was implemented on a building, donated by TAS to help feed those in need in Regent Park. The companys philosophy is simple: contributing positively to our city. Whats important to us is how we shape beautiful cities. We were looking at an opportunity where we could begin to plant the roofs of some of the buildings that we own, and the conversation came about with Cultivate, said Mazyar Mortazavi, president and CEO of TAS, a Toronto urban development company.

Silencing Scientists (Verlyn Klinkenborg, New York Times)
Over the last few years, the government of Canada led by Stephen Harper has made it harder and harder for publicly financed scientists to communicate with the public and with other scientists. It began badly enough in 2008 when scientists working for Environment Canada, the federal agency, were told to refer all queries to departmental communications officers. Now the government is doing all it can to monitor and restrict the flow of scientific information, especially concerning research into climate change, fisheries and anything to do with the Alberta tar sands source of the diluted bitumen that would flow through the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. Journalists find themselves unable to reach government scientists; the scientists themselves have organized public protests.

Placing Value on Citizenship Education in a Dog-Eat-Dog World (CEA)
My prejudice on the question: Whats standing in the way of change in education? can be plainly stated. When all is said and done, good citizenship amounts to the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would be done by. Thats foolproof, I think, though its too preachy for some, too self-congratulatory for others, too idealistic, and too impractical in a dog-eat-dog world. I believe that public education here and throughout much of the industrialized West has never come to grips with schooling for good citizenship as a prime value. Most folks think that good parenting and good teaching of skills are sufficient unto the need thereof. Thats not good enough.

Unemployment is higher than you think (Angella Macewen, Broadbent Institute)
Every month, Statistics Canada comes out with the unemployment rate, and every month it gets a lot of attention. But the unemployment rate provides quite limited information about the actual health of the labour market. The addition of two other pieces of information nearly doubles the unemployment rate: the proportion of the labour market employed part-time but looking for more work, and the proportion that would like a job but arent actively looking for work, and so arent officially counted as being in the labour market.

Agency helps those living in poverty access laundry and shower facilities (Radhika Panjwani, Brampton Guardian)
Regeneration Outreach Community recently celebrated the end of a two-year renovation project which included adding a pair of washrooms with shower stalls and a laundry room to its existing structure for individuals experiencing extreme poverty. The work was part of the Brampton-based agencys ongoing efforts to ensure issues of homelessness and poverty are dealt with by practical solutions and services that directly benefit people.

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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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