Part I: Changing the discourse around citizenship and immigration. A Comparison of the 6 Degrees Dictionary and the International Organization for Migration Glossary
In preparation for the upcoming federal election in Canada, this summer the Canadian Council on Refugees (CCR) has issued an open letter to the leaders of Canada’s federal political parties, asking them to agree to a set of principles as they discuss and debate immigration and refugee issues and policy. Specifically, the CCR asks that people “engage in discussions about migration in ways that recognize:
- Our shared humanity,
- That Canada finds opportunity through diversity,
- That refugees strengthen our communities,
- That refugees help build our economy,
- That Canada has legal obligations to respect and uphold the human rights of those fleeing persecution”.
In his 2017 Policy Matters article “How to debate immigration issues in Canada”, Andrew Griffith, former director general of Citizenship and Multiculturalism Canada and current prolific blogger at Multicultural Meanderings, called for “more respectful and informative debates”. He argued that “All participants need to be mindful of the impact of their arguments and words and need to formulate their arguments in a manner that fosters informed debate and contributes toward better pubic discourse and policy development”. The core principles shared by the CCR do set clear guidelines, but there must also be agreed upon definitions of the language used in these debates. Fortunately, two well known and respected organizations have recently released some definitions for consideration.
Co-founded and run by The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson and John Ralston Saul, 6 Degrees is a program of the Institute for Canadian Citizenship (ICC). The ICC is the national champion for inclusion and active citizenship in Canada. Last year, at their annual event, 6 Degrees, they released “The 6 Degrees Dictionary, A User’s Guide to Inclusion”. The 6 Degrees Dictionary focusses on inclusion and supports the notion that as a community, as a society, we all need to learn and use new agreed-upon language when we talk about citizenship and immigration.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is a leading intergovernmental agency providing governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental partners with services and advice in promoting humane and orderly migration for all. In 2019, the IOM Glossary was developed “to give definitions for commonly (and on occasion not so commonly) used terms when speaking migration”. The IOM Glossary is clearly intended and written for policy makers, analysts and legislators. But both organizations want to change the discourse around migration and citizenship.
6 Degrees wants to provoke and inspire us; The IOM wants a “correct and balanced approach”. The 6 Degrees Dictionary offers us twelve terms to consider. Six of these terms are also defined in the IOM Glossary, and six are not. This paper reviews the six that are common to both.
Let’s see how their definitions are different, and ask whether the definitions are provocative and inspiring (6 Degrees) or if they help to bring harmony in the way the terminology is used and puts an end to dehumanizing terms (The IOM).
The IOM Glossary doesn’t have a definition for ‘citizen’. Instead it refers readers to ‘nationality’, which is defined as “The legal bond between an individual and a State”. A short, decisive definition. The 6 Degrees Dictionary presents, as it does with all its “definitions”, a series of statements, challenging notions about the terms rather than defining them (in this way, I suggest that it is less a dictionary and more of a glossary). This approach lends itself well to being provocative and, some might say, controversial.
The 6 Degrees definition:
- Athens! The French Revolution!
- The source and guarantor of legitimacy of any nation-state, democratic or not.
- Under constant attack and denial by those with power, whether public or private.
- Not to be confused with a taxpayer.
- The opposite of stakeholder, a Mussolinian term which reduces an individual to membership in an interest group.
- Volunteerism is a manifestation of the engaged citizen, not a sector.
- The citizen cannot be a client of government services. The citizen owns the state.
immigrantchilren.ca finds much happiness in the fourth definition; “Not to be confused with a taxpayer”. Children, migrant or otherwise, are citizens in the country they find themselves in, regardless of their ability to pay taxes. The notion of volunteerism as a condition of, or a pre-requisite to ‘citizenship’ is a stimulating one. The 6 Degrees final definition of the citizen owning the state is an aggressive challenge to the IOM definition.
The IOM Glossary defines “immigrant” as “From the perspective of the country of arrival, a person who moves into a country other than that of his or her nationality or usual residence, so that the country of destination effectively becomes his or her new country of usual residence”. It’s very matter of fact. The 6 Degrees Dictionary defines “immigrant” in 6 different ways. After a short, declarative definition, The 6 Degrees Dictionary assigns attributes, effectively editorializing and being intentionally provocative and inspiring in its last five definitions:
The 6 Degrees definition:
- An individual who leaves one country to become the citizen of another.
- A noble term describing someone with the courage, decisiveness, and consciousness to wish to change their lives by changing their country.
- An individual whose qualities enrich their new society through public structures, culture, politics, and economics.
- On average, more comfortable with risk than those born in the country.
- Tends to be more ferociously loyal to their new country and its ideas of justice than those born there.
- An immigrant is to engagement what a citizen is to marriage.
Attributing immigrants as courageous, contributing and (more) loyal and (more) risk-taking in their new country is, again, deliberately provocative and challenging to the status quo view of immigrants taking from the system and wanting accommodation. Not an unpopular view, regrettably but not one the IOM takes either.
The IOM defines “integration” as “The two?way process of mutual adaptation between migrants and the societies in which they live, whereby migrants are incorporated into the social, economic, cultural and political life of the receiving community. It entails a set of joint responsibilities for migrants and communities, and incorporates other related notions such as social inclusion and social cohesion”.
The 6 Degrees definition:
- Probably better than assimilation, but a poor second to inclusion.
- Unfortunately assumed to be a benign process by which someone is incorporated into a society.
- A step, once understood as the only one necessary for dominant groups to deal with others.
- Assumes a list of adjustments that newcomers must make to become acceptable.
- Views societies as static and brittle that will crumble upon contact with difference.
- Provokes fear under the guise of stability.
- Discourages innate human curiosity.
- Denies happy human complexity.
- Totally wrongheaded.
The IOM Glossary defines migrant as “An umbrella term, not defined under international law, reflecting the common lay understanding of a person who moves away from his or her place of usual residence, whether within a country or across an international border, temporarily or permanently, and for a variety of reasons’.
The IOM takes the opportunity to expand the term and includes a number of well?defined legal categories of people, such as migrant workers; persons whose particular types of movements are legally defined, such as smuggled migrants; as well as those whose status or means of movement are not specifically defined under international law, such as international students.
The 6 Degrees Dictionary begins its series of definitions pedantically with “A bird, animal or butterfly with a regular and circular pattern of movement”, then adds flourishes and texture to the next five, presumably as they relate to humans.
The 6 Degrees definition:
- A bird, animal or butterfly with a regular and circular pattern of movement.
- In practice, an underpaid industrial or agricultural worker who is expected to return to their home in the off season.
- In common usage, a label intended to exclude, marginalize, patronize, and dehumanize. As in, “When you’re finished picking my strawberries, go home.”
- A term that is never self-applied, only imposed on others.
- Not to be confused with expats or snowbirds.
- Used to justify withholding citizen rights from immigrants for one or more generations.
The IOM defines “multiculturalism” as “A model of integration policies that welcomes the preservation, expression and sometimes even the celebration of cultural diversity. This approach encourages migrants to become full members of society while retaining their cultural identities. It combines the recognition of varied backgrounds, traditions and ways of seeing the world with certain universalist values, such as the rule of law or gender equality, that override cultural differences and guarantee the same rights for all. The integration relationship is then best captured in the image of a mosaic enabling minority ethnic groupings to live side by side with the majority constituency”.
The 6 Degrees definition:
- An Indigenous concept that balances difference with belonging.
- A policy devised to explain how people from culturally distinct and diverse backgrounds can live together.
- A Canadian invention supporting – in theory at least – notions of equal rights, recognition, and opportunity for all regardless of their roots.
- An example of how confused and blissfully optimistic policymaking can become a strength.
- Misunderstood, to put it politely, by Europeans and Americans. And some Canadians.
- On paper, the opposite of interculturalism. In practice, identical.
- An important step on the road to pluralism and inclusion.
- A rare unapologetic Canadian mic drop.
The IOM uses the 1951 Convention definition of refugee: “A person who, owing to a well founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it”.
The 6 Degrees definition:
- Someone who flees their home to save their life.
- Not simply persecuted by others, as the legal definitions insist.
- Victim of everything from war and prejudice to drought and economic collapse.
- As in, a victim of calamity, human or nature made. It could be you.
- Or an identified enemy of the state, for example, someone who speaks up. It could be you.
- In both cases, an attempt by those with power to dehumanize those without. It could be you.
- Requires courage.
- More popular than asylum seekers. Refugees may appeal to everyone’s fear of suffering, but an asylum seeker is a refugee looking for a place to live next door to you.
- One who escapes despair, walks across the Sahara, is abused, raped, beaten, used as slave labour, and finally risks their life on a boat only to be categorized by Europeans as economic migrants. A form of persecution.
- You don’t want to be one.
The 6 Degrees Dictionary calls itself a user’s “guide to inclusion”. Kudos to them to want to ‘provoke and inspire”. Some of the definitions are stimulating, confrontational and a little cheeky. The IOM Glossary takes a more conventional approach. Both documents are useful, and both are considered “living documents”, offering opportunity to add and edit. I hope we can revisit and reopen the Six Degrees Dictionary at this week’s upcoming Six Degrees event. What do you think of the definitions?
Part II: Reviewing the discourse around citizenship and immigration in each of the 2019 federal party platforms.
~ coming soon ~
The Conference Board of Canada recently released a report following their Canadian Immigration Summit, 2017. Titled “An Innovative Immigration System at 150 and Beyond”, it includes a summary of the summit, key findings, and recommendations to “improve settlement, integration, and citizenship policies”.
There’s lots of good stuff here, including identifying initiatives that work, or are promising, and solid recommendations from those in the fields of immigration and settlement, integration, and immigrant employment.
The federal governments’ department of immigration, refugees, and citizenship Fraser Valentine flags three keys for successful immigration:
- targeted immigration to meet Canada’s goals
- positive integration so that immigrants are welcomed into Canadian society
- strong public support for the immigration system.
Ilse Treurnicht, MaRS Discovery District suggests that Canada work to strengthen ‘the immigration-innovation nexus’ by:
- retaining more international students
- equipping cities to receive immigrants
- creating a “comprehensive approach for immigrants to contribute to the economy to leverage their global connections, cultural competencies, knowledge and experiences”
- having greater alignment between immigration and innovation, technology and education systems
- demonstrating that immigration benefits Canada economically, and that the business community must champion this, and not leave this to politicians and policy makers alone.
Yes, good stuff, but in the above examples – and others in the report – of how to support immigrant employment, there is no mention of providing child care so that newcomers can participate in training and jobs initiatives. If they have children younger than school-age, child care is an issue.
Number 2 of IRCs Fraser Valentine’s 3 keys to success is “positive integration so that immigrants are welcomed into Canadian society”. Having a safe, high quality child care program for your children while you work, train or study is a strong welcome to newcomers. It says we care about you, we see you as a whole person, with a family and not just as a worker.
Treurnicht’s call that cities be equipped to receive immigrants should mean receiving the newcomers entire family, including its non-school-aged children.
The Conference Board of Canada says: “Canada needs to identify how to better integrate immigrants in the labour market by continuing to strengthen the linkage between the immigrant selection process and its labour market needs…” I invite them to look at Canada’s labour market needs against its resources, and how to strengthen those resources.
The Conference Board of Canada missed an opportunity to highlight the importance of child care for immigrant employment and the Canadian economy. Next year’s summit?
This year’s theme for the International Metropolis conference is Migration and Global Justice.
immigrantchildren.ca has reviewed the program (to date) and have found what looks to be a fascinating workshop about children’s sense of belonging and play.
From the conference website, this description of the workshop (links added):
Integration and social belonging through play
“As migration presents a long-term, multi-faceted process of finding belonging, it presents a unique opportunity to address innovative methods for supporting immigrant and refugee children as they integrate into their new communities. By creating an environment of play – focusing on recreation and arts-based methodologies – it is possible to successfully support social, emotional, linguistic, physical, and cultural integration. Settlement has traditionally focused on the immediacy of physical basic needs, with interventions that did not necessarily place enough emphasis on the emotional needs of the whole resettlement journey. Over the last 20 years, research and practice, have proven the value of not only considering, but incorporating, arts based interventions and pro-social recreational opportunities that contribute to whole family wellness and children’s wellbeing. According to the International Play Association‘s Declaration on the Importance of Play: ‘playing is vital to the understanding, development, and maintenance of valued relationships with others. Playful interactions ‘help in understanding relationships and attachment, language, roles, and social structures.’
“It is these principles that also guide the idea that children should be considered with their own agency, capable of developing social capital in their own right, not only in relation to adults: ‘ the social capital of children in often ‘invisible’. Further, it is often seen as an ‘asset’ for future benefit, not something ‘in their lives in the present’ (Colbert, 2013). A pro social, experiential, approach to programming could employ a culturally competent and trauma informed approach to learning and development that draws on the participants innate resilience in a time of significant adjustment and resettlement.
“It has been our experience that play promotes normalcy, healing, and healthy behavioral development – as well as supports the complex process on integration into a new community following a period of crisis, trauma, or forced migration. This workshop will speak to the approaches used towards establishing a range of partnerships in order to engage children and youth in the local community, culture, and language through various forms of play, while remaining sensitive to culture and background”.
Fariborz Birjandian, Calgary Catholic Immigration Society (CCIS)
Amanda Koyama, Calgary Catholic Immigration Society (CCIS)
Shaun Jayachandran, Crossover Basketball and Scholar’s Academy
(To be confirmed).
A Call for proposals has been released for the 18th National Metropolis Conference, to be held in Toronto, Canada from March 3 to the 5th.
This year’s theme is Getting results: Migration, opportunities and good governance. From the conference website:
The 2016 National Metropolis Conference will focus on future immigration trends and policies and the challenges and opportunities that they create for Canadian society. The conference will include four plenary panels with distinguished speakers and workshop and round table sessions on a wide variety of topics related to immigration and diversity. We anticipate several hundred participants from Canada and abroad.
You can learn more about the conference and submit your proposal online at the conference website.
The North American Refugee Health conference will be held in Toronto, Canada from June 4-6, 2015. From the website:
“The three day event will focus on the best practices in refugee health. Lectures focus on contemporary issues in refugee health, mental health, OB/GYN, pediatrics, and primary care”.
immigrantchildren.ca is happy to see that children’s health issues is a major theme and will be following the conference twitter hashtag #NARHC2015.
In 2010, the Canadian Association of Family Resource Programs (frp.ca) released an issue of their occasional journal, Perspectives in Family Support. The issue focused on newcomer families. It stands up today, four years later. Included in that issue are:
- Support for New Immigrant Families-Challenges and Opportunities
Janice MacAulay, Betsy Mann, Kim Hetherington
- The Participation of Immigrant Families in the Activities of Family Resource Programs
- Our Learned Cultural Bias and Prejudice
Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria
- Phase 2 of FRP Canada’s Welcome Here Project – A Summary Report of Lessons Learned
- Reflecting on Issues of Translation and Interpretation
- What are the Essential Elements of Valid Research? The Problem of “Data” and their Collection in Cross-Cultural Contexts
Judith K. Bernhard, Ph.D.
frp.ca has announced its annual conference for 2015 to be held this year in Hamilton, Ontario. Review the program and register here.
Related link: welcomehere.ca ~ a collection of resources for immigrant families, and for those who work with them.
Metropolis 2014 will take place Nov 3-7 in Milan.
There are a small number of sessions that address issues of immigrant children and youth. From the program:
Moving images in social networks. Youth, active citizenship, education and intercultural dialogue
The aim of the workshop is to analyse the different uses of social networks by young people, focusing on the way they deal with the issue of cultural diversity through videos and on how education can build competences and awareness to promote active citizenship and intercultural dialogue in social networks. The keywords social networks, youth, media education and intercultural dialogue will lead the debate to understanding the condition of youth in a social scenario marked by the increase of cultural diversity. Social networks can be considered not only as an important tool empowering active citizenship of young people, but also as a field where opinions and attitudes of closure and rejection of others can become widespread.
The presenters will broaden our consideration of the role of social networks in representing diversity related to migration. They will offer some insights and examples on the double role education has to play with regard to the use of social media by young people: to develop their awareness on how social media may be used to misrepresent or act against cultural diversity; to increase their competence for promoting intercultural dialogue in the online public sphere. Young filmmakers from The Netherlands, France-Martinique and Italy will present good practices of video use in social networks. The filmmakers have taken part in YEFF, the Young European Film Forum on Cultural Diversity, promoted since 2005 by a network of 9 European countries.
Unaccompanied minors in the European Union
Among the various forms of international migration that the European Union has experienced for a long time, the arrival of children without any parents or customary guardians (“unaccompanied minors”) has emerged as a migration phenomenon of growing importance, and as a particular challenge for receiving countries. While the number of unaccompanied minors in the different Member States is unequal, practices concerning the entry, reception, accommodation, and regulation of stay of these minors vary considerably. This is despite the fact that at EU level much attention has recently been devoted to reach a common approach regarding this vulnerable group of migrants.
This workshop will investigate different migration patterns of unaccompanied minors experienced in selected EU Member States, and the different national policies and practices concerning their entry, reception and stay. Presentations from Austria, Hungary, Sweden, Ireland and Italy will be complemented by a comparative European perspective from the European Migration Network. Ultimately, the workshop aims at identifying achievements, shortcomings and possible future developments at national and EU levels.
Unaccompanied children. Challenges, policies and practices
Unaccompanied children, who find themselves without parental care, frequently lack a legal status in the country of arrival, and very often it precludes them from benefiting of the rights they are entitled to as minors. Because of the very nature and vulnerabilities of this group of migrants, and consistent with the principles enshrined in the Convention of the Rights of the Child, the assistance provided to unaccompanied migrant children should necessarily be flexible, and able to respond to specific needs of each and every concerned child. The guiding principle of all activities developed for unaccompanied children is the primary consideration of the best interest of the child, so as to identify and implement the most suitable and durable solution on an individual basis – i.e. return the country of origin, integration in the country of destination, resettlement or adoption. Drawing on experiences in different destination countries, the aim of the workshop is to explore the impact such actions have on the well-being of unaccompanied children and the implications of different policies and practices.
NB: Canadian Gardiner Barber Pauline of Dalhousie University is scheduled to participate in this workshop.
Immigrant youth at risk: Towards an inclusive policy through multi-disciplinary practice
Immigration provides opportunities for both the host society and individual immigrants. The young generation of immigrants will contribute to overcoming the economic and social crisis of aging societies. There are chances for innovation and new openings, but there are also challenges which national policymakers should identify and take specific actions to overcome. The workshop will address the situation of young immigrants who are not in education or training or those in situations of near social exclusion. Questions of mental health, education and social inclusion will be discussed in the workshop. We welcome participants representing different fields of action to contribute to the discussion of the potential of young immigrant generation and challenges to policymaking.
Last day to register is Oct 31.
Update August 12, 2014:
The 6th On New Shores conference will take place October 16-17, 2014 in Toronto, Canada.
ONS Tentative program.
ONS Travel information.
The conference is capped at 100. Get your registration in soon!
Contact organizer Dr. Susan Chuang for most current information: firstname.lastname@example.org
For the 6th time, the University of Guelph is hosting an ‘On New Shores’ conference (search immigrantchildren.ca for information about previous ONS conferences). This year’s theme is Immigrant and ethnic minority families: Bridging across cultural boundaries. The conference will be held in Toronto from October 23 – 24, 2014.
From the call for proposals:
UPDATE: Proposal submission deadline is March 15, 2014. All proposals must be submitted to Dr. Susan S. Chuang by email (email@example.com), and must be accompanied by a submission form.