Immigration & Diversity news headlines – September 6, 2013


Choosing the right new Canadian its more than just about money (Maytree)
On August 29, 2013, the Fraser Institute released a report that suggests that immigrants are currently a fiscal burden on Canada. They make recommendations for reforms to Canadas immigration system. Its important to note (and read) SFUs Mohsen Javdani and Krishna Pendakur critique of a similar Fraser Institute report in 2011 and this recent rebuttal of the new report. Seems we just wrote about this Although an OECD report recently concluded that immigrants are, overall, neither liabilities nor assets, the fiscal burden to Canada imposed by recent immigrants continues to be up for debate.

Torontonians ambivalent about giving permanent residents a local vote: poll (Debra Black, Toronto Star)
Just over half of Torontonians polled by Forum Research, a Toronto-based public opinion research company, do not support allowing permanent residents to vote in municipal elections. Toronto City Council voted in June to ask the province to give permanent residents the right to vote and participate in city elections. If approved by the province, the new system could be in effect for the 2018 election and would allow an estimated 250,000 non-citizens to vote in the municipal election.

Statement Speeding up citizenship decisions by clearing dormant cases (CIC)
Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander today released the following statement: Our government continues to look at all reasonable options to make Canada’s already generous immigration system even more flexible, fast and fair. To that end, I am pleased to announce another common sense move to cut wait times for newcomers who are committed to contributing to Canada’s long-term growth and prosperity. The application process has, for too long, been bogged down by persons who unnecessarily delay the process for everyone else by not taking the process seriously.

Online campaign for ex-Afghan interpreters tuition raises $10,000 (Laura Armstrong, Ottawa Citizen)
A crowdsourcing campaign to cover former Afghan interpreter Maryam Sahar Naqibullahs tuition at Carleton University has reached its goal of $10,000. Less than two weeks after David Brook, a stranger to Sahar, launched the Indiegogo campaign after reading her story in the Citizen, 114 donations have amassed $10,011. The funds will pay for the 19-year-olds student fees, such as tuition and books. As a young girl living in Afghanistan, Sahar was the only female interpreter for Canadian and U.S. reconstruction forces in Kandahar City. Growing security risks forced Sahar to immigrate to Ottawa in October 2011 under the Afghan Interpreter Immigration Program. She came alone, at only 17 years old.

Mobile sexual health clinic a life-saver for immigrant women (Marc Ellison, Toronto Star)
Whether they speak Urdu or Korean, for immigrant women in Toronto the name on the pink and white Winnebago means the same in all languages a place of hope, and a service that can quite literally save their lives. The Immigrant Womens Health Centre has run its mobile sexual health clinic for immigrant women in the city since 1980, providing services such as breast exams and Pap tests. The nine-metre vehicle has a female doctor and translator on board, and is fitted with waiting and examination rooms. Immigrant women typically dont take care of themselves because theyre so worried about making ends meet, and finding employment, says Sharisa Mohamed, a counsellor with the centre. Many of these women are also refugees coming from really bad situations, and their health isnt the first thing on their mind.

Operational Bulletin 530-A September 5, 2013 – Retesting and communicating results of the citizenship knowledge test (CIC)
Guidelines are now available for re-testing applicants who fail the written knowledge test and those who are in the hearing inventory queue after having failed knowledge only as well as knowledge combined with any other criteria. Additional instructions are provided to advise applicants of written test results immediately after testing along with notification of file splitting. Additional instructions are also provided to clearly advise applicants of the option to withdraw.

Dancing the diversity polka (Barbara Kay, National Post)
Of all Canadas political party leaders, Pauline Marois may well be Canadas clumsiest communicator. Almost every pronouncement she makes about language and Quebec culture little else seems to preoccupy her draws both internal and external critical fire. Its hard to know what motivates Maroiss proposed projects, such as the now floundering Bill 14, which would so further constrict Bill 101s already severe French-language protections that it became an international scandal. Is it racism, or a Macchiavellian strategy to whip up anti-Quebec sentiment, which could raise ethnic wagon-circling to winning conditions referendum fervour?

Transforming Citizenship: Ethnicity, Transnationalism, and Belonging in Canada (ACS)
The Association for Canadian Studies and the Canadian Ethnic Studies Association 4th Annual Conference October 24-26, 2013 Campus Saint-Jean, University of Alberta Edmonton, Alberta Transforming Citizenship: Ethnicity, Transnationalism, and Belonging in Canada.

Call FOR PAPERS, PRESENTATIONS AND WORKSHOPS Creating Conditions for Success: Collaboration, Capacity & Community-Based Approaches (Alberta Association of Immigrant Serving Agencies (AAISA))
The Alberta Association of Immigrant Serving Agencies (AAISA) is inviting individuals to submit papers and presentations for this year’s conference that will examine the current state of the integration and settlement sector at the client, organizational and sectorial levels and collaborative initiatives that have come to exist. Practitioners, researchers, policy analysts and activists from the nonprofit, the public and the university sectors are encouraged to participate. Participation can take on a variety of forms: round tables, paper presentations, or posters.

Cross-Cultural Dialogue during Reconciliation Week, Vancouver Sept. 18th, 2013 (Safe Harbour)
From September 16th – 23rd, Vancouver is set to host a number of events and dialogues during Reconciliation Week. Reconciliation Week is about moving beyond past injustices and building stronger ties between Aboriginal peoples and all Canadians. It is about moving beyond dialogue and towards action. Its about Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians coming together to renew hope for a new way forward in the way we communicate and grow our relationships with each other. Its about deepening an understanding of our shared histories and cultures, about justice and healing, and about an acknowledgement of NamWiyut We are All One.

Integrating Immigrant Youth: Transatlantic Perspectives (Magdalena Ziolek-Wkrzypczak, Migration Policy Insitute)
Over the past two decades, the integration of immigrant youth has emerged as a pressing yet controversial issue in public debates around the world. Riots that shook many European cities Paris in 2005, Athens in 2008, London in 2011, and Stockholm last May may be partially traced back to a growing generation of frustrated immigrant youth wishing to call attention to their daily struggles with discrimination, economic marginalization, and social exclusion.

Connecting Canadians Through Canada’s Democracy Week (Marketwire)
Elections Canada is inviting Canadians to participate in Canada’s Democracy Week from . The week will include events and activities across the country. This year, Canadians are being asked to celebrate the theme Connect with democracy. “Democracy works best when people feel an active sense of ownership,” says Chief Electoral Officer of Canada Marc Mayrand. “Youth have proven to be perceptive and engaged citizens. Canada’s Democracy Week is about celebrating what youth are doing to promote democracy in their communities.”

Local ESL teachers runners-up in contest (Jacqueline Bigar, Hamilton Spectator)
How does this flower smell, feel, and what colour is it? The answers to these questions make up just one small exercise in Jennifer Weiler’s repertoire to engage her English as a second language (ESL) students. From reading an adult-learning, graded Anne of Green Gables book and visiting a pioneer village to learn words about pioneers, to researching the life cycle of ants, butterflies, and mosquitoes using YouTube and other methods to learn words for them, Weiler engages her students with hands-on participation. She also uses subjects the students can relate to in their own cultures, such as growing, cooking and preserving foods.

Canada Seeks Immigrants Who Fit Better (Alistair Macdonald, Wall Street Journal)
As American lawmakers debate how to revamp U.S. immigration policy, Canada has embarked on a major immigration overhaul of its own aimed at choosing newcomers who are a better fit for its economy and society. The impact of Canada’s reforms will be watched in Washington, where elements similar to the Canadian approach toward screening applications have found their way into the immigration plan that passed the U.S. Senate in June.

Naheed Nenshi calls PQ values charter social suicide, suggests that upset Quebecers move to Calgary (Jen Gerson, National Post)
Amid all the eggshell prancing, however, came a refreshing blast of mockery aimed the PQs way, courtesy of Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi. The Mayor, leading Calgarys pride parade, took a moment to refer to a proposal in a certain part of our country that threatens to undercut our economic prosperity. The Mayor pointed out that Canada needs to be able to attract the best and brightest from all over the world, and make them feel at home as they integrate into our economy and help keep us competitive.

Mayors comment on equality strikes chord in Quebec (CTV Calgary)
Calgary’s mayor, Naheed Nenshi, commented on Quebec’s contentious plan for a secular charter at the Calgary Pride Parade on the weekend, saying residents of all faiths are welcome in his city. Nenshi marched in the parade with Calgarians from all walks of life on Sunday. Just in this month, weve heard in one province in Canada a proposal to restrict the jobs people could have based on their faith. So the fight for human rights and the fight for equality will continue and continues even in this country and its important for us as Calgarians to show the country and the world that we welcome and accept everyone, said Mayor Nenshi on the weekend at the Calgary Pride Parade and Festival. Nenshi went on to say that in Calgary, residents of all backgrounds and faiths are welcome in the city.

Teachers union opposes Quebec’s headwear witch hunt (Ingrid Peritz, Globe and Mail)
A major Quebec teachers union is opposing any attempt to ban religious headgear and symbols in schools, saying it wont go on a witch hunt among teaching staff. The Fédération autonome de lenseignement, which represents 32,000 public-school teachers in the French-language system, says the Parti Québécois government is taking a wrong-headed approach to seeking to ensure State secularism. According to media reports, which members of the Pauline Marois government have not denied, Quebec wants to ban religious headwear and symbols among workers in places like schools, hospitals and daycares.

Racism yardstick: It’s all about oppression (David Camfield, Winnipeg Free Press)
What is racism? Manitoba media outlets have been full of coverage of the charge that a 2012 email sent by deputy premier Eric Robinson was racist. The controversy took off after the media reported that Osborne House CEO Barbara Judt had filed a complaint with the Manitoba Human Rights Commission alleging racism. Provincial Tory Leader Brian Pallister and others have repeated that charge. As a result, as Free Press columnist Dan Lett puts it, “Robinson has been forced to fight the allegations he is a racist.” Racism is repugnant and harmful. That’s why what’s most worrying about the ongoing furor is the confusion about what racism is — and isn’t.

Saima Hussain: Immigrant experience was in the blood (Debra Black, Toronto Star)
Saima Hussain, 40, a freelance writer and author, came to Canada from Pakistan with her parents and two brothers in 1996. They first arrived in Montreal but moved on to North York and eventually Mississauga. Hussain studied English and history at the University of Toronto and then took a masters degree in South Asian studies. She worked as a university admissions counsellor before moving back to Pakistan in 2004 to become a journalist for the Dawn newspaper. Her parents now split their time between Canada and Pakistan, but Hussain returned to Canada in 2011 to study in Ryerson Universitys publishing program. She now freelances for Dawn and has written a childrens non-fiction book.

Zuberi family leaves the turmoil of Pakistan for a fresh start in the GTA (Debra Black, Toronto Star)
Junaid Zuberi, 45, wife Sadaf Zuberi, 37, with 8-year-old son Hamza, came to Canada in April 2013 under the federal skilled workers program. Theyre staying with family in Mississauga until they get settled. Both have MBAs from Karachi University and hope to get jobs in their fields. Junaid works in financial services, having spent the past 10 years working for Japanese-owned Orix; Hamza works in the non-profit sector in program management. But their degrees were evaluated as equivalent only to a Canadian bachelors degree. They are currently enrolled in a co-op program for foreign-trained professionals and will be doing an internship to gain Canadian experience.

Visible minority lawyers still ride the pine instead of the Bench why (Mitch Kowalski, FInancial Post)
I dont write many award announcements. This one is different. Well-known real estate guru Jeff Lem was recently awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Federation of Asian-Canadian Lawyers. For those of us in the real estate field, this award was no surprise. Jeff has been THE go-to lawyer for difficult real estate problems for quite some time. And sadly, he appears to be the last of a long line of incredible teaching/practicing real estate gurus that include Reuben Rosenblatt, Brian Bucknall, Craig Carter, Syd Troister and Paul Perell. Jeff is also next in line to be a Bencher for the Law Society of Upper Canada an appointment that appears very likely given that only one Bencher needs to resign (due to becoming a judge or for other reasons) before the next election in 2015. So it seems that Ontario will soon have another Asian-Canadian as a Bencher which is more good news! But what about the Bench?

Leons employees fired after accusations of racism (Lauren Strapagiel,
Two Leons employees in Dartmouth, N.S., have been fired after a racist display which led to the resignation of a black employee. Leons said they were alerted on Aug. 16 that a bronze statue with a black finish was hung by its neck in an office window at the Dartmouth furniture store. The statues eyes and mouth had been whitened. The furniture retailer is now apologizing and said that in addition to the two firings, staff will be provided with sensitivity and diversity training.

Sorry, Granny — Canada Doesn’t Want You (Rachel Decoste, Huffington Post)
Fans of the classic TV sitcom Seinfeld will recall The Soup Nazi, an eponymous character played by Larry Thomas. The owner of new soup stand is referred to as the “Soup Nazi” due to his temperament and insistence on stringent rules while ordering a meal. The term “Nazi” was used as an exaggeration of the excessively strict regimentation he demands of his unsuspecting patrons. Those who do not meet the biased criteria are met with a harsh “No soup for you!” from the Soup Nazi, as their meals are rudely confiscated before being shooed away. The sitcom scenario draws roars of laughter, even 20 years later. But the real life situation of Canadians seeking to sponsor their parents and/or grandparents isn’t funny at all. “No Grandma for you!” — that’s essentially what then-Immigration Minister Jason Kenney told millions of Canadian kids when he announced changes to the family reunification program.


From war zone to ESL class (Barry Coulter, Daily Townsman)
Dark memories of the war in the Bosnia in the 1990s come surging up from underneath a refugee’s presentation to her English-as-a-second-language class, in the latest production from Poeima Productions, coming to Cranbrook this month. “Anatolia Speaks,” a one-actor show featuring MBSS grad Candice Fiorentino, is running three nights at the Studio Stage Door Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 20, 21, and 22. Poiema Productions is an Edmonton-based theatre company founded in 2009 by Fiorentino, Melissa Heagy, Brianne Jang and Sara Vickruck, all graduates of the Grant MacEwan University Theatre Arts Program. Poiema is a Hebrew word meaning workmanship and masterpiece. Over the four years of company’s existence, they have included Cranbrook, including “The Seminar,” “Happily Ever After,” and last year’s “Middleton: A Folk Musical.”

CFP: CARFMS14: Coherence and Incoherence in Migration Management and Integration: Policies, Practices and Perspectives (Refugee Research Net)
The 2014 CARFMS Conference will bring together students, researchers, policymakers, displaced persons and advocates from diverse disciplinary and regional backgrounds with a view to better analyse and understanding how contemporary migration and asylum policies, processes and structures have produced greater coherence and/or incoherence in the management of forced migration and integration. We invite participants from a wide range of perspectives to explore practical, social, legal, policy-oriented and theoretical questions of importance to the coherence of forced migration management. We also invite studies of short and long-term options for to integration and resettlement of forced migrants taking into account challenges and achievements.

Canada Immigration: Capping the number of Refugees in Canada (Neha Dutt, Live Punjab)
Canadian Press informed recently that last year when the staff at Citizenship and Immigration Canada were queried about the methodology of reducing the number of “high needs” refugees, they came up with a multitude of options. In a process of overhauling the immigration system, the aim of the Canadian immigration system is to contain the refugee population. It’s been dubbed as a call for curbing the number of refugees in Canada to lower the burden on the health – care system. The Federal government has stated that a limit must be assigned on the number of refugees entering the country; ranging from trauma to torture.

Massive Drop in Refugee Acceptance Rates (Immigrant Lawyer blog)
Refugee referrals are down at least 60% year over year; now statistics indicate that there is a significant drop in the acceptance rate for refugees. This is somewhat surprising – one would assume that with the elimination of what Jason Kenney calls ‘bogus refugee claims’ the acceptance rate would increase. I think Jason Kenney meant to say ‘reduction’ when he said ‘reform’ in his “Balanced Refugee Reform Act” … “The Refugee Reduction Act” seems far more apt.

Syrian refugee delay frustrates sponsor (CBC)
A group in Charlottetown looking to sponsor three refugee families and help them escape the violence in Syria is frustrated by delays that have so far gone on for 18 months. The three families are from Iraq, but fled to Syria eight years ago, only to be faced with violence there as well. Charlottetown’s Catholic Diocese started the process to bring them to Canada early in 2012. “We understand there are wait times, but you know, given the situation in Damascus we’d like to see their applications moved along, expedited,” said Dan Doran of the Catholic diocese’s refugee committee.

Reconciling Muslim practices with Western principles (Sheema Khan, Globe and Mail)
An incredible amount of ink has been spent on the reaction to the proposed Charter of Quebec Values, considering that the document itself remains veiled to the wider public. For those wishing to brush up on laïcité, John Bowens Why the French Dont Like Headscarves provides an excellent analysis of the distinctively French view of the separation between church and state. According to Mr. Bowen, laïcité is a French tradition that began in 1905 when the Roman Catholic church was officially removed from Frances educational system and a greater part of public life.


Group mentoring a successful form of PINs collaboration (TRIEC)
The intercultural mentoring program at JVS Toronto is a group mentoring initiative that helps connect the members of professional immigrant associations with mentors in their field. Its a great example of how professional immigrant associations can benefit them from collaboration and partnerships with each other and with employment service providers.

Scotiabank StartRight Program (ERIEC)
As Canadas most international bank with branches and offices in over 55 countries around the world our international outlook helps us understand the needs of new Canadians. We value the important role newcomers play in the Canadian workforce, economy and cultural mosaic. We also understand the challenges of getting started and getting settled in a new country, and that is why we have developed with the Scotiabank StartRight® Program1. This program is uniquely designed to make settling in Canada easier by providing newcomers with financial solutions in one convenient package from managing their day-to-day banking, building their credit history, to investing in their future.

Feds approved most requests for temporary foreign workers (Olesia Plokhii, iPolitics)
The data confirms what those of us who have been following the program already suspected that the vast majority of applications are approved without any difficulty, said Jason Foster, a labour expert at Albertas Athabasca University who has studied the temporary foreign worker program for nearly a decade. This is not surprising. The remaining 103,494 applications that were neither denied nor approved were likely withdrawn. It is unclear how many of the nearly 600,000 approved Labour Market Opinions which can be made on behalf of numerous individuals by employers went on to receive work permits from the department of Citizenship and Immigration. According to the ATIP, on average, 59.1 per cent of approved applications go on to receive visas.

Human trafficking victims are often hidden from sight (Daphne Bramham, Vancouver Sun)
It’s nannies, caregivers and maids who are the more common female faces of international trafficking, not frightened women and girls being escorted out of brothels and massage parlours. But domestic servitude lacks the attention-getting impact of snakeheads or girls forced into prostitution. Domestics are usually women. They come one by one, not by the truckload. And it’s likely to be on a plane accompanied by an employer rather than a socalled snakehead.

If Canada is one of the top five countries to start a business, why are we complaining about its mediocrity? (Mashoka Maimona, Financial Post)
Ms. McMorrow credited the federal government for trying to fuel the business climate, with initiatives such as the Startup Visa scheme that caters to innovative immigrants with 2,750 annual visas for at least five years. The report surveyed more than 1,500 entrepreneurs on five areas: access to funding, co-ordinated support, education and training, tax and regulation, and entrepreneurial culture.

Whistler venues skirting foreign musician controversy (Whistler Question)
A combination of Whistlers small population and a large transient workforce has spared some Whistler pub owners from any significant impacts a new federal program is imposing on Canadas live music scene. The issue stems from the federal governments new Temporary Foreign Workers Program that went into effect July 3. Employers must now pay a $275 fee, as part of a labour market opinion (LMO) application, when hiring non-Canadian employees. The program extends to the local music scene, as restaurants and bars are viewed as the employers of any foreign musician performing on their stage.

Canadian Federation of Musicians supports changes to Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s temporary foreign workers program (Canada Newswire)
Canadian Federation of Musicians (CFM), Canada’s leading professional organization representing Canadian musicians, assures that the recently announced changes to the processing fee implemented by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) for Labour Market Opinion (LMO) in no way affect AFM members. AFM members will continue to only require a work permit when performing for a venue that is not exempt and will not require an LMO approval prior to entry in Canada. Venues that are not recognized as work permit exempt will incur the fees directly, as well as those which engage musicians who are not members of the AFM.

N.Y. band to stream show online in Ottawa to protest touring artists fees (Joe Lofaro, Metro)
A band from Brooklyn, N.Y. is planning to circumvent the Canadian governments new fees for temporary foreign workers by streaming their performance online onto a screen at Ottawas Babylon nightclub next week. Instead of forking out cash for gas and a hotel room in Canadas capital, progressive-punk rock band Old Monk is going to set up their equipment in their New York studio and perform in front of a webcam on Sept. 9 while patrons in Ottawa watch the band perform on a large projection screen.

Ontario Government Challenges Legal Right to Healthcare for Injured Migrant Workers (Digital Journal)
On August 16, 2013, the Health Services Appeal and Review Board issued a historic decision granting OHIP coverage to migrant farm workers in medical emergencies. Today, the Ontario government indicated that it would be challenging the decision by filing a reconsideration request. On August 9th, 2012 Kenroy Williams and Denville Clarke were among nine Jamaican migrant workers who were driving to work when their employer’s van swerved to avoid an oncoming car. The van rolled several times killing one passenger and severely injuring several others.


New way to keep the war on poverty alive (Carol Goar, Toronto Star)
Crowdfunding was created by the digital generation to capitalize on its technology, tap into its skills and cater to its attention span. To use it, a promoter has to be fast, punchy and persuasive. When the Caledon Institute on Social Policy decided to give crowdfunding a try this summer, its vice-president Sherri Torjman knew shed be giving her 60-year-old brain a workout. You need to tell a compelling story in two and a half minutes or less, she explained. You need to say who you are, why you are launching a crowdfunding campaign, why your issue is of concern to viewers and what you would like them to do.

Two sides of the same Coyne (Andrew Jackson, Broadbent Institute)
In his recent article in the National Post on the myth of rising income inequality, Andrew Coyne argues that, when it comes to poverty, the news is quite remarkably good. He posts a chart showing the proportion of the population living below Statistics Canadas Low Income Cut-Off (LICO). This indeed shows a decline from the late 1990s, to under 9%. Could this possibly be the same Andrew Coyne who argued in Macleans Magazine in 2009 that the LICO measure is far inferior to the Low Income Measure of poverty? The LICO measures the proportion of Canadians living in households which spend more than 63% of their income on the necessities of food, clothing and shelter.

Fighting poverty with educationstudent awards program (Scarborough Mirror)
We know that the level of income (or socioeconomic status) of a family relates to their ability to more effectively educate their children. For those without sufficient funds, attaining higher education is less likely. The cost of post-secondary education is rising in Ontario and our youth require support from an early age to inspire them to reach their potential.

Two new evidence-based films making the connection between employment security and health (Access Alliance)
This evidence-based film draws on research participant quotes to tell a powerful story of how insecure jobs affect individuals and families. It was collaboratively written and produced as part of Access Alliance’s Knowledge to Action Initiative.

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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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