A common misconception by most Canadians is that all immigrants (regardless of country of origin, religious background, ethnicity) face a common set of experiences (opportunities and challenges) as a group. There-in lies the basis of misunderstanding of the immigrant phenomenon by most Canadian-born residents.
With little fanfare, Canada was scolded last month by both the United Nations and Amnesty International over its human rights record. Yes you read this correctly -- Canada. The two areas that attracted the most attention by the UN/ Amnesty International human rights experts were Canada's record when it came to refugees and internally the manner in which we continue to discriminate against our First Nations people. As Canadians we consider ourselves to be open, honest -- a welcoming society. Yet for those from afar struggling to build a new life and for our First Nations right here struggling to change their lives for the better, that openness rings very hollow.
According to Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, the upcoming "Web-based 'Expression of Interest' system" for immigrants advertising their skills is "like a dating site." Like a dating site!? Is that the model Canadians favour to pick our future citizens? For every Cinderella who finds her Prince Charming on an online forum, there is a string of Chris Brown's meeting their Rihanna. Once newcomers take the bait, are there any measures to ensure the Government of Canada won't be rendered to playing matchmaker-middleman to abusive relationships, thefts, misrepresentations of employment conditions, or scams?
The World Junior Hockey Championship has captivated Canadians again this holiday season. But the sight of Team Canada's goalie's skin colour was met with laughter, bemusement, confusion and contempt in Canada and abroad. Thankfully, the long-ignored vestiges of disdain for diversity in hockey have been gaining attention nationwide, in the USA, and across the pond as hockey fans and foes band together to address long-standing pressures that still blight the game.
The Somali Canadian population is "undergoing the growing pains of integration into the larger Canadian mainstream" according to the head of the influential Somali Canadian Congress. Ahmed Hussen, a noted activist and newly minted Ottawa University lawyer, reflects on mentorship, influence and integration for Canada's large Somali population.
A designated country of origin (DCO) is a country declared as "safe," on grounds that it can provide adequate protection to its citizens and therefore not likely to produce refugees. It also discounts the treatment of some minority groups in so-called "safe" countries perhaps most particularly, the Roma in Europe.
Just last week, Federal Human Resources Minister Diane Finley took away special E.I. benefits from migrant workers through a quiet Thursday afternoon regulatory change. She did this assuming that most people wouldn't notice. Just in 2008, migrant workers and their employers paid an estimated 300-million dollars in to E.I. but were only able to access some paternal, maternal and compassionate benefits. Now even that has been made off-limits.
The Canada Border Services Agency just announced that it had deported 16,511 people in 2011-2012, dubbing it a "milestone year." Every year tens of thousands of migrant workers are coerced to leave after getting hurt on the job or because their work permits are revoked or have been completed. This is euphemistically called "repatriations." Canada is implementing a revolving door immigration policy, with high deportations and a shift to migrant work. It is clear to see who is paying the cost of these policies. Are we okay with this? It's time we slow this down.
The mere fact that the media has zeroed in on Tagalog as the fastest growing immigrant language, and the public's surprise of this so-called linguistic phenomenon, is telling of the social insignificance of Canada's third largest ethnic group. Sure, Filipinos are common props in fast-food restaurants, hotels and homes, but their lack of political and economic weight renders them invisible despite their large presence and 24/7 work cycles.
Bill C-43 The Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act: An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act thus far has passed First Reading. As a criminal defence lawyer working in the multicultural city of Toronto, I will have to quickly ascertain the citizenship of my clients in the first interview and quickly advise them of the potential dire consequences if they are either refugees or non-citizens.
In introducing Bill C-43 -- the Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act -- the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration offered several justifications for this legislation, which on first impression, appear warranted. But the very title of the legislation suggests that Canada is overrun with foreign terrorists, escaped convicts, war criminals and the like. That's only the tip of the iceberg for this highly problematic piece of legislation.
Canada's immigration selection system has always been rigorous, in part because we have viewed immigrants as "citizens in waiting." After three years of permanent residence, they are able to apply for citizenship and more than 89 per cent choose to do so -- one of the highest naturalization rates in the world. But, recent and proposed changes to Canada's immigration and citizenship rules are making it much more difficult for immigrants to become citizens.