The West

Mental health promotion for newcomers

Cultures West magazine, Vol 27, No. 1: Spring 2009 of the Affiliation of Multicultural Societies and Service Agencies (AMSSA) is subtitled “Promoting Mental Health for Immigrants and Refugees” and includes a strong call to action with regard to children. From the first article, on starting a dialogue about mental health and newcomers:

“…children are caught between two cultures and face regular trauma all day long. They wake up with their traditional culture, spend six to seven hours engrossed in Canadian culture and then go home where they are again encouraged to stick with their traditional culture”.

An interesting portrait of the Multicultural Outreach Counselling Program highlights the need to be responsive to the needs of diverse communities and to ensure that parent-child conflict and differences in parenting styles are addressed. This edition includes several first-person accounts and case studies to illustrate the need for culturally-competent service providers and culturally-appropriate services and programs in mental health.

Integration v. multiculturalism

Federal Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, The Honourable Jason Kenney Friday, July 10/09 announced $9.5 Million to Calgary immigrant serving organizations delivering language training. Citing once again the well-known quote by former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, Kenney reiterated that “newcomers have a right to be different but a duty to integrate”. Adding:

“Our new focus is on integration. We don’t want to create a bunch of silo communities where kids grow up in a community that more resembles their parents’ country of origin than Canada”. (Source: The Canadian Press).

Calgary immigrant serving organizations were happy to receive the funds, however, no details were made available on whether or how much of this funding is allocated to children’s settlement and language training.

Colour Our World: Calgary's child settlement program

Calgary’s Centre for Newcomers, with funding from Citizenship and Immigration Canada, runs a settlement program for immigrant children, aged 2 – 12, accompanied by a parent or family member. The program provides one-on-one support as well as group activities, all with the goal of providing information and support for children integrating into Canada. For more information, see the webpage and/or contact program coordinator Zainab Qaiser Khan, (403) 569-3348.
Are other provinces/jurisdictions conducting similar programs specifically for children’s integration/settlement?

Separate school for immigrant children?

The Edmonton Public School system is planning to develop a new program to assist immigrant children with integrating into school, a way to ease them into their new formal environments. Starting as a pilot program, the CBC reports that school board trustees are already considering expanding the program into its own school for immigrant and refugee children. Joseph Luri of the Mennonite Centre for Newcomers in Edmonton welcomes the idea. He wants to see a separate school for immigrant/refugee children with the children grouped not by age but by their knowledge:

“Some have been in the refugee camps for 10 years … never gone to any formal school but now coming here and they begin learning English as a teenager, you don’t get it”.

Diversity matters conference, BC

Conference call. Diversity Matters: An Ongoing Conversation, sponsored by Providence Health Care, BC and Covenant Health, AB will be held November 2-3, 2009 at the Coast Plaza Hotel in Vancouver BC. From the conference brochure:

Conference Description 

Healthcare practitioners, educators, and community service providers face increasingly diverse populations in their professional work. This diversity includes an expanding range of unfamiliar patient beliefs, preferences and expectations about the “right” way to learn, maintain health, make treatment decisions, and communicate. These changes are also often accompanied by significant language and other symbolic barriers between providers and the people served. New or different inter-professional competencies and organizational approaches are therefore needed to ensure the provision of safe and ethical care. Presenters at this conference share their knowledge and practical experiences in transforming models of health care to better serve our culturally diverse patient populations. 

Conference Objectives 

1. Raise awareness of the implicit values and premises of health care delivery 
2. Provide knowledge about diverse health models, beliefs, and practices encountered with multicultural and multi-religious patient populations 
3. Learn culturally competent approaches for engaging with religious and culturally diverse patients, families, and communities 
4. Understand the communication issues and skills needed to provide education to diverse patient and provider populations 
5. Identify systemic barriers and solutions for serving limited or non-English speaking patients, residents, families, and communities.

Settlement needs of BC immigrant and refugee children

Last June, Welcome BC held a Learning Forum and Consultation on the Settlement Needs of Immigrant/Refugee Children 0-6 years of age and Their Families.
The purpose of the day was to provide government with specific advice regarding appropriate programs for newcomer children from birth to age six, and their families “in the intersecting areas of Early Learning and Early Childhood Development”.
Available online now are some very useful resources and materials prepared for the conference by various BC government departments, including: the Attorney General; Children and Family Development; Health; Education; Public Library Services Branch; and from the Burnaby ECD Table. Resources include current (2006) demographic information on countries of origin, home languages, strategic directions of the various departments and etc. There is also a written report on the learning results/outcomes of the conference consultation and participant evaluations:

2 page Executive Summary
Report on the Results of the Learning Forum and Consultation on the Settlement Needs of Immigrant/Refugee Children 0-6 Years of Age and their Families. Prepared by Karen L. Abrahamson.


Call for papers: The economics of integration – children of immigrants and temporary migration

The Economics of Immigration: Children of Immigrants and Temporary Migration will be held May 11-12, 2009 in Vancouver BC.

The conference is intended to provide a forum for discussing innovative theoretical and empirical research on two important topics in migration research: economic issues related to the children of immigrants, and temporary migration. Possible topics (of interest to readers) include:

  • economic conditions faced by the children of immigrants
  • intergenerational integration
  • racial/ethnic stratification, segregation, and attitudes
  • social capital of immigrants and their children

Those interested in participating should submit a complete paper, in PDF format, to the program committee by January 1, 2009. Submissions must be made via e-mail to:

All presenters will be provided with hotel accommodations for 3 nights plus all meals for the 2 days of the conference. Funds may become available for air transportation …Major funding for this event is provided by Citizenship and Immigration Canada and Metropolis British Columbia. Institutional support is provided by Metropolis British Columbia, CReAM, and Simon Fraser University.

Source: CERIS November 2008 Newsletter.

Alberta expands family sponsorship program

The Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program has amended its policies to allow “eligible Albertans” to sponsor family members, even those without a job awaiting them. Alberta Employment and Immigration Minister, The Honourable Hector Goudreau, in a news release entitled “Invite your uncle to pack his arc welder for a new life in Alberta“, says that adding to the family stream will support employment, “while creating more diverse and welcoming communities for all our families“.

Multicultural to intercultural: Libraries connecting communities

The International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) is holding a satellite meeting Aug 5-7/08 in Vancouver BC (prior to their 2008 Conference and Congress, Libraries Without Borders, in Quebec City).
The satellite meeting theme is Multicultural to Intercultural: Libraries Connecting Communities. See the site also for a call for papers.
Visit the IFLANET site to learn about how libraries and other institutions come together to meet the needs of culturally diverse populations. Here you’ll find strategic plans, work schedules, publications and more.