Immigration & Diversity news headlines – Oct 25, 2013


NDP slams Conservatives for calling immigrant parents `a burden’ (
The opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) has criticized the Conservative government for ignoring the importance of family reunification for immigrant familes. Reacting to the recently delivered Speech from the Throne, NDP DP Multiculturalism Critic Andrew Cash said, “There were 7631 words in the Throne Speech and yet family reunification was only mentioned once. But, not only do the Conservatives not seem to care about the importance of family, they’ve also neglected soaring youth unemployment with nearly 300,000 more people unemployed today than before the recession.”

Sikh student who won kirpan case now considers leaving Quebec (
A good update on the person who prompted one of the more significant reasonable accommodation cases before the Supreme Court, Gurbaj Multani, who insisted on his right to wear the ceremonial kirpan to school. The Court ruled in his favour, but imposed conditions (i.e., it had to be sewn into clothing). Needless to say, the proposed Quebec Charter sends a signal to citizens like Multani that they are not fully welcome or accepted.

What is Diversity? – Part 5: The Multipliers (Mary-Frances Winters,
Even though I have been doing Diversity and Inclusion work for a long time, I continue to have my own epiphanies. One of the reasons that it is so difficult to define diversity is due to the multipliers. I was in a meeting with an executive diversity council this week where we had defined the diversity focus areas for the company. The council developed a statement which essentially said: While we recognize that diversity is broadly defined and has many dimensions, for the purposes of the strategic plan, we will focus on race/ethnicity, religion, generations, gender, disabilities, sexual orientation and veterans. One of the participants said, “what about socio-economic levels, or education or other dimensions.” After a much spirited discussion, the group decided to add to the statement: We also recognize that these diversity focus areas are influenced by education, socio-economic status, as well as other relevant modifiers.

Strengthening a diverse community (
“Moose Jaw’s really changed,” said Sgt. Cliff Froehlich of the Moose Jaw Police Service (MJPS). A room full of people at Hillcrest Church listened to Patricia Davies speak about cultural adaptation and cross-cultural communication at a luncheon on Thursday. Froehlich said he wanted to learn about the diversity of Moose Jaw and how to improve at handling situations where a person from another culture is involved.

Picking doctors by colour (Aruna Papp,
In a recent position statement, the Canadian Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists argued that immigrant patients’ expressed wishes to be treated by a doctor of their own sex, race, culture or religion — reportedly a common phenomenon — should not be reflected in our country’s health-care policy. These professionals feel services should be provided by the most qualified personnel available, period. Hospitals and clinics should resist patient requests to be treated by doctors of a particular race, religion or sex, a top medical group is telling its members, highlighting a touchy yet reportedly common health-care phenomenon.

How a One-Day Jail Sentence Became Seven Years of Detention (Desmond Cole,
Michael Mvogo is one of many people to have been detained in Canada for months or years with unresolved immigration issues. In September of 2006, a homeless immigrant known to authorities as Andrea Jerome Walker was arrested by Toronto police and sentenced to jail for possessing about a gram of crack cocaine. He served his time, but was arrested again the following day by the Canadian Border Services Agency. More than seven years later, that same man, whom authorities have now identified as Michael Mvogo, is still in prison. Although Mvogo was not charged with any new offences, he remains incarcerated in a Lindsay, Ontario provincial jail with no evident path to either freedom in Canada or deportation to his native country, Cameroon.

End immigration detention: Supporting unjustly detained migrants (Scott Neigh,
On this week’s episode of Talking Radical Radio, migrant justice organizers Mina Ramos and Macdonald Scott talk about working in support of the non-cooperation and hunger strikes being waged since mid-September by migrants detained in a maximum security facility in Lindsay, Ontario.

The Myth of the Muslim Tide: The Dinner Talk (Doug Saunders,
On Saturday, come out for a spirited dinner discussion in Toronto with three thinkers who’ve written on immigration, Muslim integration and mass hysterias.

Following their dreams (Dave Stewart,
Emotional, moving and touching is how citizenship judge Veronica Johnson described Wednesday’s special community citizenship ceremony in Stratford. An immigrant herself from Jamaica, it was Johnson’s job on Wednesday to swear in 42 new Canadians. But before the actual ceremony began, new immigrants and those who made Canada their home years ago joined with community members in a series of roundtable discussions about what life was like where they came from, why they decided to move to Canada and become a citizen. Johnson didn’t have to participate in the pre-ceremony discussions but she’s glad she did.

Swearing-In Ceremony to Welcome New Canadians (
A group immigrants will be sworn in as Canadian citizens today at The Forks. As part of Citizenship Week ceremonies taking place across the country October 21-27, the Children’s Museum will host the swearing-in at 1:30 p.m.

UN urged to aid man ‘in limbo’ in Ontario immigration jail (
Supporters of a man who has been locked up for seven years in southern Ontario are taking his case to the United Nations. Michael Mvogo has been in limbo since he was taken into custody in 2006 by the Canada Border Services Agency and held in immigration detention. He had originally come to Canada in 2005, then been arrested by police for possession of a small amount of cocaine. After he pleaded guilty and served his one-day sentence, he was slated for deportation.

Quan officially takes over as TDSB chief (Caroline Alphonso,
The newly minted director of Canada’s largest school board plans to make all expenses from her office public in an effort to be more accountable. Donna Quan’s four-year term as director of education at the Toronto District School Board was made official by trustees on Wednesday. She had been temporarily filling that role since the previous director resigned amid allegations of plagiarism. Ms. Quan takes the helm of a $2.9-billion organization that has come under criticism for fiscal mismanagement. Ms. Quan pledged to increase the level of accountability, right down to how her office spends its dollars.

Immigrant Isolation (
Matt Galloway spoke with Amita Patel. She is the co-facilitator of a South Asian women’s support group in Markham, run out of Family Services York Region.

Canadian values can only be learned by living here, judge says in rejecting citizenship application (
Sensible correction to earlier jurisprudence that had allowed for residency to be defined as legal residency, not physical presence. Imagine upcoming citizenship legislation will also make this clear as 2010 proposed changes included this as one of the measures (minority govt situation and election meant bill did not proceed).

Enver (Albania) (
Enver’s family needed to escape from civil war, and Canada offered new opportunities. After trying many times to get into the United States through their green card lottery system they tried Canada’s Immigration Point System. One of the most in demand professions at the time was a veterinarian and his mother met the criteria. According to Enver, “you did not need ‘luck’ to get into Canada, you just had to demonstrate competence.” Toronto is where Enver went to school, found love, works, and now where he resides. His two-year old daughter calls Toronto home and soon so will his son. As he mentions, “Toronto has taken me in with open arms, allowing me to build a life here, and I hope to find a way to return the favor.”

Vera (Macedonia) (
Emigrating to the United States in 2001 to avoid the threat of war, Vera’s family’s experience as one among few foreigner families in a homogenous suburb of Milwaukee, Wisconsin was difficult. There was a desire to seek a more welcoming environment and this set them on a path to Toronto. Vera says she has a ‘nomadic tendency’ as before living in Toronto she lived in Argentina and Thailand. Now Vera has “found strange comfort in accepting Toronto as a home, whatever that means.” Vera feels at ease perhaps for the first time since their emigration 12 years ago; no longer the “alien” “farang” or “gringa” but “just another Torontonian.”

Hannah (Grenada) (
Encouraged by her Mother, Hannah came to Canada to pursue an international education at Brock University. Her older sister had already moved to Toronto and this helped her decide where she would go upon graduation. Currently working a contract job at Canada’s Wonderland, she still looks for a full-time, permanent job. Hannah appreciates things in the city that offer a warm Caribbean “vibe” like Caribana, as well as the Guyanese announcer and steel pan player she sees regularly at her subway station.

Hard to believe racism still exists in Northumberland, Canada, and the world (
Recently, I participated in a mini experiment at school. The group was asked a series of questions, which included, how many people feel they have been victims of either racism, gender biases, religious affiliation or sexual-orientation in their lives? To summarize, 98 per cent of the group answered they had. A classroom of mostly young university students, average age now 18, and all but two people felt they had experienced one of these four discriminatory attitudes. It’s 2013 and the sad reality is that people still encounter discrimination every day regardless of the push towards equality and human rights.

Visa: Canada to charge Nigerians $85 for fingerprints, photos (Emeka Madunagu,
Canada has rolled out a new set of requirements for Nigerian visa applicants, which include the payment of $85 for fingerprints and digital photographs. A statement by the Canadian Embassy titled, ‘Protecting Canada’s Immigration System,’ on Thursday said that with effect from October 23, 2013, Nigerian visa applicants would be required to provide fingerprints and a digital photograph when seeking a visitor visa or study or work permit.

Canada urged to release migrants in endless detention (
What should Canada do with those migrants it cannot deport for a variety of reasons? Is indefinite detention the answer? That’s the crux of a petition to the United Nations by migrant advocates who want hundreds of migrants currently held for immigration violations to be released.

Benhmuda family can return to Canada — if they pay $6,000 it cost to deport them (Sandro Contenta, Toronto Star)
The painful saga of the Benhmuda family has taken a turn for the worse. In 2008, the Mississauga family of six lost a bid for refugee status and was deported to Libya. Upon arrival at the airport, Adel Benhmuda, the father in the family, was imprisoned and tortured. They eventually fled to Malta and lived in a shipping container in a refugee camp. In January this year — after a Federal Court slammed Canadian immigration officials for treating the Benhmuda case unfairly — the federal government agreed to let them back into Canada on humanitarian grounds. On Wednesday, however, Canadian officials suddenly set a condition for their return — the Benhmudas must pay $6,000 for the price it cost the government to deport them to Libya in 2008. The family’s lawyer, Andrew Brouwer, is outraged.

Federal government mulls picking up removal tab for man wrongly deported to torture in Libya (Tobi Cohen,
A man who was tortured after he and his family lost their bid for asylum and were deported to Libya was told this week to pay $6,800 to cover their removal costs before Canada would issue their visas. Adel Benhmuda, who was brutalized at the hands of Moammar Gadhafi’s security forces, was told in January that he, his wife and four children could return to Canada after Citizenship and Immigration approved their request for refugee status on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. But what was supposed to take mere weeks turned into months and early Wednesday, their Toronto lawyer received an email from the Canadian Embassy in Paris instructing them to pay up.

What Quebec’s Battle Over Religious Symbols Can Teach Americans About Church-State Separation (Rabbi Jordie Gerson,
In Quebec, according to the Parti Quebecois, you can wear a modest cross to your job as a judge, but not a kippah; you can wear a beard, but not a hijab. This past Sunday afternoon, my new congregation, Temple Emanu-el Beth Sholom, the oldest Reform synagogue in Montreal, hosted a symposium on the hotly debated and divisive “Charter of Quebec Values” that brought together religious leaders and public intellectuals from a range of perspectives. The Charter under discussion, a product of the Parti Quebecois (hereafter referred to as the PQ), proposes that all employees of public facilities (such as courts, government offices, schools, etc.) refrain from wearing religious dress or symbols. Clothing in the banned category ranges from hijabs to kippahs to turbans to ‘ostentatious’ crosses – though small ones are just fine.

Canada’s Sri Lanka Case and The Trouble With “Whitelists” (
Sri Lanka is a difficult place for citizens to live with their human rights intact, and it has been for a long time. Canada’s aversion is less consistent. The Prime Minister announced last week he would not attend the November leaders’ summit because of the host’s cruel treatment of its citizens. During the 26-year civil war between the Sri Lankan Government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (Tamil Tigers), both sides were accused of atrocities like forced disappearances, extortion and torture. The conflict ended in 2009 but the brutality continued.

Couple doesn’t want charity, just a chance to work (Chris Clay,
Kibur Hunie Tesfa and Busha Taa are both well-educated, have Canadian employment experience and are eager to work. But, for the past several years, the Ethiopian immigrants have found it impossible to find work in their respective fields. Willing to work almost any paying job, the married couple have expanded their job search but haven’t had much success. They’ve received a myriad of excuses, including being overqualified and overeducated, from prospective employers about why they’re not being hired.

Citizenship Week 2013 (
Special activities are open to the public and occurring throughout Canada.

The Messy State of Religious Freedom (Contributors,
Canada’s Office of Religious Freedom (ORF) has launched at a time when the right it seeks to promote and protect is under intense scrutiny. It has been suggested that Ambassador Andrew Bennett, the inaugural head of the office, will need to very carefully measure his words given the diverse interests housed in the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade that oversees the ORF. One concern appears to be the possibility that ORF criticism of religious freedom violations abroad might alienate key trading partners for Canada. Even more troubling, though, are fears that trade relations or other matters of diplomacy might cause Ambassador Bennett to temper his voice in a way that could undercut the credibility of the office itself.

Racism in BC : Canadian culture is commitment, not convenience (John Ferry,
Foreign-born immigrants, most of them originally from Asia, now make up 40 per cent of the population in the Metro Vancouver region. That’s nearly double that of Canada as a whole. But it’s clear many B.C. residents are unhappy about that. They want to pull up the drawbridge and slow down both population and economic growth. New immigrants, meanwhile, often find the Lower Mainland a hard place in which to find affordable housing, suitable work … and to fit in socially

Research and Markets: College ESL Programs to Serve the Immigrant & Foreign Student Market Report Provides Useful Statistical Information for 2013 (
This study looks closely at how 7 North American Institutions of higher education have developed highly focused, intensive English as a Second Language programs to prepare immigrant and foreign students to study in North America.


What are the impacts of recent changes to refugee health care? (
On June 30, 2012, the federal government drastically reduced the scope of the Interim Federal Health Program (IFH) that previously covered medical services and medications for all refugee claimants and resettled refugees. Over the next 3.5 years, we will work with partners including the Hospital for Sick Children, Montreal Children’s Hospital and McGill University to assess the impact of these changes on both health status and access to health care for people who are refugees in Toronto and Montreal. We will also explore the impact on the health care system itself.

More Central Americans seeking refuge from gangs, organized crime in US, Canada, Costa Rica and Mexico (
Gang violence and organized crime has taken over political instability as the main cause for Central Americans’ seeking refuge in other countries. “[Since 2009], we have noticed a growing trend in the number of people from the Northern Tier of Central America requesting refugee status in Mexico, Canada and the United States,” said Fernando Protti, regional representative of the United Nations High Commissioner’s Office for Refugees (UNHCR) for Central America, Cuba and Mexico.

Zdravko Cimbaljevic, Montenegro’s First Openly Gay Man, Stared Down His Own Obituary (
In a country as small as Montenegro, news of one’s own demise travels fast. Last July, Zdravko Cimbaljevic was more than a little surprised to read his own obituary in the local newspaper.

Montenegrin gay rights activist seeks refugee status in Canada (Lindsay Jolivet,
Rocks and firebombs thrown by violent anti-gay protesters showered an LGBT pride March in Montenegro last weekend, and one of the conservative country’s most instrumental gay activists couldn’t even attend for fear of his life. Zdravko Cimbaljevic was in Vancouver while his tiny, eastern European country made a brave step toward more rights for gay residents because he fled his home country after attacks and death threats he says his government failed to prosecute.


etip – Delivering Effective Feedback (
Newcomers from diverse cultures often perceive feedback very differently. Managers need to be aware of the potential for misunderstanding.

Congratulations to IEC-BC Board member, Kathy Kinloch on appointment as President of BCIT (
Kathy is a widely recognized educational leader and has served as president of Vancouver Community College (VCC) since 2010 where she oversaw a re-positioning of the college.Kathy’s career includes senior leadership positions in health, government, and post-secondary education where she has successfully led strategy development. Kathy has served as senior advisor, British Columbia Ministry of Health Services, and was integral to the development of a provincial surgical “wait times” strategy. She also has worked as a chief operating officer, Fraser Health; regional vice-president, South Fraser; and vice president at Surrey Memorial Hospital.

Workplace diversity: ‘To win in your market, you need to hire the market’ (Jonathan Stoller,
When Zabeen Hirji came to Canada in 1974, she never dreamed she would have the career she does today. Although the civil rights movement had pushed equality issues to the forefront, a Tanzanian immigrant like her had little chance of reaching her full potential in the business world. When she started working at Royal Bank of Canada in 1977, the bank had no female or visible minority executives on its board. With some encouragement from one senior manager, though, she persevered, and gradually climbed the ranks. Today, Ms. Hirji sits on RBC’s executive board as the head of HR. “The culture at RBC has changed,” she says. “Today, diversity is seen as an asset.”

Submission to the Minimum Wage Advisory Panel (
In a joint submission to the Minimum Wage Advisory Panel, Workers’ Action Centre joins with Parkdale Community Legal Services and Freedom 90 in calling on the government of Ontario to increase the minimum wage to $14 per hour.

Unpaid intern’s claim for wages rejected (Marco Chown Oved, Toronto Star)
A former unpaid intern’s complaint seeking back wages from Bell Mobility has been rejected by a federal labour inspector. Jainna Patel, who worked for five weeks in Bell’s Professional Management Program in Mississauga, filed a labour complaint in 2012 with Human Resources and Development Canada, claiming the program had no educational value and that she was doing the same work as paid employees. Patel had hoped her complaint would improve other interns’ experiences across the country and was encouraged by similar successful complaints in the U.S.

Temporary Foreign Workers Program Should Be Capped: IRPP (
Canada should place a limit on the number of temporary foreign workers it allows into the country, before the program grows too large and threatens Canadians’ livelihoods, says a new report from the Institute for Research on Public Policy. The report, written by Carleton University labour economics professor Christopher Worswick, finds “the growth in the number of temporary foreign workers numbers is a cause for concern. Its timing, which coincides with a period of weakness in the Canadian economy, is especially troubling.”

Saskatchewan firm offers to help farmers hire temporary foreign workers (John Cotter,
A company is offering to help farmers cut through the “paperwork jungle” of the federal temporary foreign worker program to hire the labourers they need. Farmers of North America says there is a chronic shortage of skilled and unskilled labour in almost every sector of agriculture from the grain fields of Saskatchewan to the cattle feedlots of Alberta to the orchards of British Columbia and Ontario.

Skilled Labour Shortage? (
Matt Galloway spoke with Michael Hlinka. He is our business commentator on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

Is Canada’s ‘skills gap’ really a non-issue? (Chris Sorensen,
A number of business groups, labour consultants and politicians are warning of a looming labour market crisis in Canada. The threat is two-pronged: a wave of baby boomers about to hit retirement age and a growing “mismatch” between the skills job candidates possess and those employers require. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce says there could be more than one million people unqualified for available positions by 2021. But this week economists at TD Bank said the concerns are overblown. The report, written by deputy chief economist Derek Burleton and three others, suggests Canada’s job market has been relatively robust in recent years. “There is some evidence of tightness across certain occupations and regions, but the analysis failed to provide a real smoking gun,” the authors wrote.

Commentary: What you need to know about changes to Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker program (Deborah Cushing,
Earlier this year the federal government made changes to Canada’s temporary foreign worker program with the stated purpose of ensuring that Canadians are given the first opportunity to apply for available jobs. Most temporary foreign workers require a work permit to legally work in Canada. In many instances, the employer must first obtain a positive Labour Market Opinion (LMO) from Service Canada before the worker can apply for a work permit.


Poverty patchwork (Paul Weinberg,
It was an afternoon of tactical contrasts. On a bright, crisp autumn day last Thursday, October 17, two protests with distinctly different communications strategies targeted the same government failure on poverty. At noon, OCAP, along with reps from OPSEU and CUPE and members of Put Food in the Budget, headed down to the minister of finance’s office at College and University, where they chanted “Raise the rates” and made fiery speeches against Liberal austerity preoccupations.

Government Scientists Feel Muzzled: ‘The Big Chill’ Survey (
A large survey of science professionals in the federal public service has found that almost 25 per cent of respondents say they have been directly asked to exclude or alter information for “non-scientific reasons.” Some 71 per cent of those surveyed said political interference is compromising policy development based on scientific evidence, and almost half of those who took part said they were aware of cases in which their department or agency suppressed information.

Homes For Homeless (
Matt Galloway spoke with Jonathan Rosenthal. He is a criminal lawyer who teaches at Osgoode Hall Law School, and one of 20 people who are hosting dinner parties at their homes tomorrow night. It is in support of Homes First, an organization that provides housing for people who would otherwise be living on the streets. The hosts include Metro Morning’s own Mary Wiens, along with former astronaut Marc Garneau and Dave Neelands, Dean of Divinity at Trinity College. The tickets are all gone for this year, but the organization plans to expand the fundraiser next year to include more hosts and guests across the city.

Better daycare for $7/day: One province’s solution for Canada (Erin Anderssen And Kim Mackrael,
This is the first in a Globe six-part series about building a better daycare system in Canada. We’ll examine just who is watching the kids, across the country and around the world. Join the conversation on Twitter: follow @globelife and use the hashtag #globedaycare A group of four-year-olds stand at a busy intersection in Montreal’s east end, holding hands and counting down in unison as they wait for the light to change. They aren’t just killing time: The purple bibs they wear mean that they are from the nearby Carrefour centre de la petite enfance, a publicly subsidized daycare centre staffed by educators trained to integrate informal math and language lessons like this one into everything their tiny charges do.

Building on evidence: 13 things to include in Ontario’s municipal homelessness reduction strategies, a resource (
In 2013, as a result of the province’s ‘Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative,’ municipalities across Ontario are in the process of re-designing their strategies to address homelessness and housing stability. This document summarizes what many researchers at the Centre for Research on Inner City Health see as essential elements for successful homelessness reduction strategies. It is meant for community representatives, policy-makers, program administrators, funders and frontline workers.

Highlights from the 2013 Throne Speech (Anne Makhoul, Caledon Institute)
This list sets out the social policy highlights announced in the 2013 Throne Speech

Throne Speech Signals on Caregiving (Sherri Torjman, Caledon Institute)
This commentary puts forward several proposals in response to the Throne Speech signals on caregiving. The proposals focus upon the actions that Ottawa can take in relation to private employers and workplace policies, including flexible work time, pension reform and compassionate care leave provisions. It also discusses financial assistance for voluntary organizations and social networks that provide information, training and support for caregivers.

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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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