Reposted from December, 2020, an interview between the World Refugee & Migration Council and Ratna Omidvar, Canadian Senator and WRMC Council member. Omidvar “discusses how the international community can better respond to the needs of refugee women and girls, empower them as agents of change, and confront systemic issues of discrimination”.
Good piece on immigrant children’s “lunchbox” moments – when peers see their food, make judgements and comments and how this shapes immigrant children’s identity. It’s US-based, but applicable in Canada too.
From the article on eater.com:
“The story of being bullied in the cafeteria for one’s lunch is so ubiquitous that it’s attained a gloss of fictionality. It’s become metonymy for the entire diaspora experience; to be a young immigrant or child of immigrants is to be bullied for your lunch, and vice versa.”
From their website, “The Rights for Children and Youth Partnership: Strengthening Collaboration in the Americas (RCYP) is a SSHRC funded project. The goal of this project is to increase knowledge and factors that either support or hinder the protection of children and youth rights in the Caribbean, Central American and disproportionately represented populations in Canada.
“This project features a collaboration of research from universities, government, and non-government, and international organizations. Researchers involved in the project come from eight different countries around the world including: Canada, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua and Trinidad & Tobago”.
RCYP will be relaunching their blog this fall and are seeking contributions from researchers, practitioners and children and youth to share their thoughts, feelings and experiences regarding children and youth rights.
In addition, RCYP is seeking youth to serve on their Youth Advisory Committee. For info, contact
CMAS | Care for Newcomer Children * is a federally funded program that provides supports, resources, and helps organizations, to provide culturally appropriate child care for newcomer families participating in the Language Instruction for Newcomers in Canada program.
They have just launched a section on Parenting in their website. The Parenting pages provide useful information and resources, including multilingual resources in:
Parenting ~ information to help newcomer families adjust to parenting in Canada, including multilingual resources covering general parenting practices
Child development ~ information, resources and ideas to encourage the cognitive, social, emotional, and language development of children
Health and safety ~ information on nutrition, immunizations, mental health, physical activity guidelines, and product recall information
School readiness ~ information on how to support a smooth transition to the school system.
*CMAS (formerly known as Childminding Advisory and Support Services) is funded through Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and was founded in 2000. More recently, it supports and promotes the care for newcomer children model. “Childminding” is no longer used.
I asked Ruhksana Khan:
What’s the effect of racism, discrimination, and stereotyping on newcomer children?
They suffer. Feeling like they’re less. I’m not sure if there’s much the host country can do to change this. It comes down to people valuing personal character above possessions and that kind of goes against human nature. We tend to get impressed by fancy things.
There’s much discussion on integration of immigrants. What kinds of services or supports do newcomer children need to successfully integrate in Canada?
I think it would be good to get students to partner up with the newcomer students so that they might feel less lonely and isolated. The local students could learn about where the newcomers are coming from, and read Coming to Canada to gain empathy of how difficult it would be to uproot oneself.
They can also take a look at my book Big Red Lollipop which deals tangentially with assimilation as it’s a story of a family that’s new to North America and the idea of only the invited child going to birthday parties.
If you could influence the federal minister of citizenship, refugees, and immigration to do one thing for newcomer children, what would it be?
Find ways in which newcomers can contribute to the host country as soon as possible. I think it needs to be a two-way street. Newcomers have to feel as though they’re not beholden, that they’re making a contribution towards bettering Canada so the ‘charity’ isn’t going only one way.
What is one of your favourite children’s books that you would recommend for newcomer children? Why?
My book Coming to Canada is used by the Settlement Workers in the Schools program to help newcomers adjust to life in Canada. I would recommend it. I think it contains realistic expectations and I focused on the resources that make Canada such an amazing country like the library and education systems.
Rukhsana Khan is an award-winning author and storyteller. She was born in Lahore, Pakistan and immigrated to Canada at the age of three.
She grew up in a small town in southern Ontario and was ruthlessly bullied. When a grade eight teacher told her she was a writer, she thought the idea was crazy. Writers were white people. They were from England and America.
To be ‘sensible’ she graduated from college at the top of her class as a biological-chemical technician. When she couldn’t get a decent job she decided to be ‘unsensible’ and become a writer. It took eight years to get her first book published. Now she has twelve books published (one of which was chosen by the New York Public Library as one of the 100 greatest children’s books in the last 100 years).
Rukhsana Khan’s website & YouTube channel
immigrantchildren.ca is asking Canadian experts and advocates in immigration, settlement, refugees, and newcomers about their views on newcomer children (birth to age eight). For more interviews, see here.
Sunday July 30th is World Day Against Trafficking in Persons ~ a few links with information, resources, and how you can help, with a special focus on the campaign of Save The Children
Save the Children
“Child trafficking is a crime that exploits girls and boys for numerous purposes including forced labor and sex. Because child trafficking is lucrative and often linked with criminal activity and corruption, it is hard to estimate how many children suffer, but trafficking and exploitation is an increasing risk to children around the world. When human trafficking occurs, children are often trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation or for labor such as domestic servitude, agricultural work, factory work, mining or are forced to fight in conflicts”.
- Human trafficking is a crime that exploits children.
- Every country in the world is affected by human trafficking.
- 98% of sexually abused survivors are women and children.
- 168 million children are victims of forced labor.
Join Save the Children’s campaign to end girl child trafficking #ShesNotForSale
International Organization for Migration
“IOM works with governments, the private sector, civil society organizations, and other UN agencies to protect victims of trafficking and associated forms of exploitation and abuse; to prevent such abuses from occurring; and to support the development and implementation of policies aimed at the prevention and prosecution of these crimes and the protection of victims”. #EndHumanTrafficking
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
“On the 2017 World Day against Trafficking in Persons, UNODC calls on all to ‘act to protect and assist trafficked persons’. This topic highlights one of the most pressing issues of our time — the large mixed migration movements of refugees and migrants. The theme puts the spotlight on the significant impact of conflict and natural disasters, as well as the resultant, multiple risks of human trafficking that many people face. It addresses the key issue concerning trafficking responses: that most people are never identified as trafficking victims and therefore cannot access most of the assistance or protection provided”.
You can help! On July 30th, support a 24-hour crowd-funding campaign: United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Human Trafficking
How (well) do immigrant children adjust to new shores? Researcher Monica Valencia, Ryerson University, asked a group of children to answer the question through drawings.
She found that there were 4 themes in the children’s drawings:
- Sadness (leaving behind family, friends, neighbourhood)
- Anxiety (unfamiliar, sometimes hostile environment)
- Frustration (so much new to learn! Language, customs)
- Gratitude for friendship (peer support critical to happy integration).
From The New Yorker:
“The photographs in the series “Hundred Times the Difference,” by the photographer Moa Karlberg, capture, in closeup, the faces of women in the final stages of giving birth. Across the images, there is a range of expressions: grit and sensuality, trepidation and expectation, pain and elation. But in their intimate perspective the photographs emphasize the women’s shared experience—the inward focus and physical determination in their final, transformative moments of becoming mothers”.