During a brief vacation away with my Greek immigrant parents in sunny Florida, I had the serenity to engage them in several wonderful lengthy chats about their past (always a favourite topic of mine) and to quietly observe them. These are the additional gems that I have gained from my parents' experiences.
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.