500 posts, 4 years, 3 wishes

500 Posts

Today marks the 500th post on immigrantchildren.ca and my 4th year blogging. And, as promised, a prize for our 500th post contest.

As explained in the About immigrantchildren.ca page, this blog was first set up November 3, 2007 as a volunteer contribution to the defunct Canadian Coalition for Immigrant Children and Youth (CCICY). I note that I do not now – and never have – received funds from the CCICY or another other source.
Over the 4 years that I have been blogging on immigrant children, youth, families, I have met (virtually) many individuals and learned of many organizations that support, promote and advocate for and on behalf of immigrant and refugee families and their children. Thank you (you know who you are).
When I first set up this blog, I received some criticism about the photograph in the banner. It is of British immigrant children (home children) arriving in Saint John, New Brunswick, part of the child emigration scheme from 1826-1939. The photo represents my interest in the history of immigrant children in Canada and the inspiration for my work in the area. The criticism was that immigrant children today look very different than those in the photo. Fair enough. I hope that as activists and advocates for immigrant and refugee children and families, we recognize the history of immigration policy in Canada and how it continues to impact decisions around immigration today.
Over the last four years, there have been some important milestones in immigration in Canada. Here are only a few (I acknowledge that there are broken links in some of these posts; I regret I have not had time to fix them):

2011 marked the 40th anniversary of official policy of multiculturalism in Canada. An Associated conference, sponsored by the Association for Canadian Studies and the Canadian Ethnic Studies Association was held in Ottawa this fall. We look forward to conference proceedings.
2010 was the Year of The British Home Child. As mentioned, the “littlest immigrants” as they were referred to by Kenneth Bagnell, were my inspiration as I undertook my MA in Immigration and Settlement Studies and informed the basis for my paper on international adoption, published by CERIS, the Ontario Centre of Excellence for Research in Immigration Studies.
2008 marked the 10th anniversary of the important Baker v. Canada decision which addressed the rights of four Canadian-born children to have their immigrant mother remain with them on Canadian soil, despite her foreign citizenship, illegal status, and the deportation order to return to her home country. The Court ruled that immigration officials should pay “close attention to the interests and needs of children, since children’s rights and attention to their interests are central humanitarian and compassionate values in Canadian society“.
2007 saw what will likely be the last set of comprehensive data from Statistics Canada on immigrant children specifically and home languages, thanks to the end of the long-form Census (which we took notice of and spoke against).
The issue of interculturalism as a valid alternative to multiculturalism came up in the media, in election campaigns, in coffee shops, classrooms and at kitchen tables, largely due to Bouchard-Taylor and their Commission de consultation sur les pratiques d’accommodement reliées aux différences culturelles.
The House of Commons released their report on Best Practices on Settlement Services with a few recommendations directly related to immigrant children, youth and families. We look forward to follow-up from the government of Canada in implementing these.

4 Years

Over the last four years, immigrantchildren.ca promoted film festivals that featured pieces related to immigration and diversity; we posted on multilingual children’s picture books; we announced relevant policy changes to, for example, the Ontario Early Learning Framework, and proposed extending the policy/program document to expressly address immigrant and refugee children; we criticized depictions of immigrants and cliched portrayals of Canada; we addressed controversies such as the introduction of the Burka Barbie, the so-called “honour killings” endemic in some cultures, and the Toronto District School Board‘s separate prayer room for Muslim students.
immigrantchildren.ca went all-a-twitter, joining in 2008 as @immigranttalk, greatly expanding my network of fellow tweeps, who share valuable information and insight. Here are my favourites:

Top 10 Tweeps on Immigrant and Refugee Children and Youth
Top 10 Research Tweeps
Top 10 International Tweeps
Top 10 Tweeps on Immigration, Multiculturalism, Citizenship, Diversity and Inclusion

immigrantchildren.ca was also pleased to announce numerous calls for papers for conferences as well as promote, attend and report on the series of conferences held at the University of Guelph on immigrant children, youth and families: In 2010 the theme was resilience, in 2008 the conference focused on the international aspect of migration; the theme for 2012 is happiness. We look forward to attending.

3 wishes

1. That immigrant and refugee children (birth to age eight) and their families receive the support and resources they need to succeed in Canada – with the families participating in defining what success means.
2. That the Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration, and Multiculturalism, continues to consult with Canadians and newcomers on the mandate and objectives of Canada’s immigration policy. Also that he continues to promote the positive influence of newcomers to Canada and that strikes a good balance between attracting (and employing in their field!) immigrants and fulfilling Canada’s commitment to family reunification and refugee resettlement.
3. That I continue to learn about immigration and refugee experiences, issues, innovations and find additional venues to share what I know.

Now – on to our contest: three entrants; one winner Rita H. Rita, please email me with your mailing address and one copy of Shaun Tan’s The Arrival which will be sent to you, via Canada Post. Thanks to Thomas and to Canadian Immigration Lawyer for participating.
Finally, thanks to WordPress – especially for its awesome search tool.