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"Race, Faith and Belonging: Strengthening Citizenship Engagement in Canada"

Award of Excellence Symposium

The Westin Nova Scotian, Halifax, NS – October 17-19, 2012

Rapporteur
Nicole Cameron (Student Volunteer)

Workshop 2 Part I and II

Employment for all: Examples from the Canadian Coalition of Municipalities Against Racism and Discrimination (CCMARD)

 

(Moderator) Raymond Tynes, Councillor, Town of Truro, Nova Scotia

Chedly Belkhodja, Department of Political Science, University of Moncton / Co-director of Metropolis Atlantic
Denise De Long, Project Manager, Connector Program of the Greater Halifax Partnership, Nova Scotia
Farah Mocquais, Inclusion Consultant, Community & Social Development, City of Lethbridge, Alberta
Chris Moore, Human Resources Manager, Municipality of the County of Kings, Nova Scotia
Thilak Tennekone, Chair, Diversity and Inclusion Committee, Town of Stratford, Prince Edward Island
Nathalie Goguen, Councillor and President of the Intercultural Relations and Diversity Committee, City of Sherbrooke, Quebec

Raymond Tynes

 

The first ingredient in the conversation is truth, good sense, good humour and wit. Raymond was born in Truro and over the years faced much discrimination and racial prejudice. To give you an idea of how far things have come he told the audience it used to be illegal in Truro for a black man to go out at night without carrying a lamp. In 1990, Raymond responded to an ad in the Truro daily news to work as a driver for the local fire department. In his interview he was asked how he would handle racial slurs. To which he responded "Well, that's not my problem, no one will care about the colour of my skin when I'm trying to save his or her house." The interviewer corrected him saying "No, from the people you would be working with". Again, he said that it was not his problem and that he would file a complaint with the Human Rights Commission. Raymond did not get the job. Raymond turned to the legal justice system seeking damages and reparations. Eventually, he did get a settlement cheque. In a twist, Raymond admits that if he had not been discriminated against based on the colour of his skin, his interviewer would soon have learned he wasn't able to meet the physical requirements of the job as he'd had a portion of his lung removed. But, he had never been given a chance to lie about his abilities he laughs.

It took numerous attempts to be elected for a seat on the city council. He admits that he may not be the smartest person in the room but he was born with common sense. It was hard work getting his seat on the council. The thing is, he says, "if you've been battered all your life, told repeatedly through the generations that you can't do it, you start to believe that you can't". He takes pride in the achievements and the progress they've made in Truro. He says the council is inclusive, friendly, open to creating opportunities and will help people if they start by helping themselves. He feels passionately about his responsibility to answer to the people, saying their concerns will be heard, and he demands equal rights. One of the accomplishments in Truro was ensuring equality to the women working in the Truro police dept. --equal pay for equal work.

Chedly Belkhodja: The Changing Landscape of Immigration in Atlantic Canada

Setting the context it is important to realize that in Atlantic Canada there is an aging population, low fertility, labour shortages, interprovincial migration, low immigration of 3.75 percent compared to national average of 18 percent.
(Akbari, 2008) Given these facts, population growth will depend on immigration and an increasing demand for skills. With changing labour market realities (APEC, 2012), small industries will need to adapt. There is a skills mismatch and a shortage of workers.

With immigration, international mobility and talent there is a growing competition for skilled migrants in a globalized environment. Provinces and municipalities are the new players in the field together with civil society. With immigration comes diversity "Une diversification de la diversité" and Settlement and integration of new categories of immigrants and role of the welcoming community.

Atlantic Canada Immigration Landscape:

atlantic immigration

nfrld immigration

pei immigration

nova scotia immigration

new brunswick immigration

atlantic canada

Source: Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Facts and Figures 2011

There is a rise of temporary foreign workers outside the urban centers which is certainly a trend seen in Nova Scotia. The influx of Korean Immigrants is seen in three key cities: Moncton, Fredericton and St John. They are the second fastest growing visible minority in Canada that will reach approx. 250,000 by 2017. Korean immigrants have a positive influence on immigration bringing money, investing in business and they fit well into the community.

International students are the ideal immigrants however; they have trouble integrating in some communities and have trouble finding jobs. We need to better integrate them into the community and offer more jobs resources. University campuses are much more diverse than communities, St Mary's for example is very diverse.

Issues and Challenges

 

Regarded as the Great Divide, the urban-rural socioeconomic realities of the Atlantic Region needs to be taken into account. Increased use of immigration and temporary foreign workers despite continuing high unemployment in rural regions points to a possible mismatch in the region's labour market. Also, deskilling of talented individuals has a negative effect on growth. There is also some evidence of a mismatch in certain occupations between the number of graduates from post-secondary institutions and expected job openings. (APEC Report, 2012) New forms of discriminations are evident in the survivor jobs which is an inversion of the socioeconomic order.

Solutions

  • Municipalities as open spaces of integration
  • Action plans
  • LIP model
  • Mainstream services to immigrants
  • Employers need to be part of the welcoming community
  • Making room for the voices of the immigrants is important and it's more than just talking about diversity

In addition to the need for collaboration between stakeholders there is also a need for leadership. Employers need to be part of the welcoming community in an innovative way. The idea of risk taking and intercultural awareness must be paramount. ( see Deloitte Report, Welcome to Canada, Now what? 2011). Making room for the voices of immigrants is more than just talking about diversity in our communities.

Denise De Long, Project Manager, Connector Program of the Greater Halifax Partnership, Nova Scotia

http://www.greaterhalifax.com/en/home/ourprograms/connectorprogram/default.aspx

As outlined on their website, The Halifax Connector Program is a simple but effective referral process that helps immigrants, international students and young and emerging talent build a professional network, and connect with job opportunities to help them settle successfully in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The program takes in account factors such as:

  • The need to attract and sustain immigrants in the workforce
  • Change employer perceptions: We cannot welcome immigrants to Canada and then leave them to struggle
  • It's not just what you know and who you know
  • Employers didn't know they weren't reaching out to the talent pool
  • Mismatches in talent, supply and demand
  • Challenging perceptions
  • Paradigm shift
  • Ad campaign example: "English is not my first language, C++ is"
  • Two programs, employers support: to educate employers on how to hire immigrants, not that hard.

Greater Halifax Partnership Connector program: What is it?

  • Networking initiative that connects immigrants with people working in their field. It connects businesses and newcomers.
  • The need for the program is crystal clear, immigrants need to be connected with business partners, it's not a nice to have, but a necessity.
  • There is a need to make this work. Immigrants come to the region through ISIS (Immigrant Settlement and Integration Services), Pier 21, offer a mock interview, good HR practices before they are set up with a community member give them 3 names then the next person gives them three names.

Who are connectors?

 

They are people who want to do this. People come forward who are interested. It is not the same as mentoring, which has a long-term focus. The connector program is a one off, not a continuing program. It's not a charitable, paternalistic process. It's not just the right thing to do, but also the smart thing to do. RBC supported the original awareness campaign. It's a simple idea, with lots of potential for changing attitudes, new ways to innovate, consistently build networks and able to find jobs, this is a human right. It's as simple as looking at your human resources requirements and sharing your contacts.

Farah Mocquais, Inclusion Consultant, Community & Social Development, City Lethbridge, Alberta Coalition

 

The presentation highlighted the following issues:

  • What are our plans
  • How are we building on what is already there
  • What are some of our barriers
  • Where are we most effective

Lethbridge is located in southern Alberta, Blackfoot territory, with a population of approx. 90,000, with approx. 6,000 living on Blood reserve. Many from the Aboriginal population have trouble finding rental opportunities because of discrimination and as a result are left to couch surf.

Farah showed an example of the discrimination that Aboriginal Peoples face in the community by highlighting a posting from Facebook - it was a photo of a man and his wife and the caption said "We give them houses and they destroy them, we give them payments and they blow it, we give them electricity and they burn half the province down, go figure. This is my wife she works for the Dept. of Justice".

Community Action Plan – Building Bridges

 

http://www.lethbridge.ca/living-here/Our-Community/Documents/Community%20Action%20Plan%202011-2021%20-%20Building%20Bridges%20-%20A%20Welcoming%20and%20Inclusive%20Community.pdf

The City will look at itself as a corporation assisting leaders, supervisors, implementing this action plan, touch the minds and reach the hearts of those that hold the power. It will adhere to the UNESCO commitments.

What are some of the barriers to achieving CMARD commitments?

 

  • Eagerness of companies of foreign workers who put up with adverse work conditions
  • Aboriginal Peoples are hunters and gatherers by nature
  • Systemic barriers in education and employment.

Shania Twain said "There's only up to go from here". There are so many Aboriginal people that are eager for change. We need to move away from looking at things as mistakes and more from a learning perspective in the "decision making, educating, action, reflection, consultation cycle". There is a strong and visible leadership capacity within universities in developing language and paradigms that fit the issues. We must ask ourselves how we want to be remembered tomorrow. Taking advantage of teachable moments, rather than saying, "I'm not racist, I never purposefully exclude someone" and instead understanding that it is better to purposefully include people.

Hate crimes were hurting the communities and the bottom line is, no matter what laws are being made someone will find a way of bending them. It is through our compassion and touching all Canadians that we discourage these kinds of things from happening.

It is important to welcome immigrants, but we must also be welcoming to those who have been here for so long. We can build them both up at the same time. Ultimately, to move forward we must recognize diversity.

Chris Moore, Human Resources Manager, Municipality of the County of Kings, Nova Scotia

 

As a member of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), the County of Kings was inspired to join CCMARD on review of the 10 commitments and making the commitment that all actions that one does on a daily basis should match these commitments. The project is Proactive vs. Reactive and leading vs. lagging

Even a tiny organization can make a change, why must it be that these committees start as a result of a bad event? For Kings County it started out as a proactive move, not as a result of a tragedy or bad event. If the municipality does not take a leadership role who will? President Obama said, "Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for, we are the change that we seek."

Partnerships, mentor/mentee, stronger community, engagement, and change are important in upholding the CCMARD commitments.

Is this lip service if you just attend events and just go to conferences, even doing these events take a long time to organize? Two sides one saying it's great that you're finally doing something while the other half is saying you're wasting tax $ there's no discrimination. If you go into the community and see for yourself, well, the discrimination is there.

On review of the recruitment process areas for improvement were identified. Any change in local government is done through policy and with through local buy in. How do you plan a way forward if you don't have a strategic plan and direction for staff, council and the public. Joining CCMARD was an opportunity to engage the public and make sure the plan is theirs and not just yours. It takes small wins and not "pie in the sky" outcomes that cannot be measured.

CCMARD has developed a toolkit but there are challenges in implementation. Some of them include:

  • Manpower: Where do you find the time to do all of this work?
  • Council has approved the action plan, now comes the time to hire people.

Thilak Tennekone, Chair, Diversity and Inclusion Committee, Town Stratford, Prince Edward Island (PEI)

 

PEI is the smallest province in Canada with a very homogenous community. They wanted to develop a strategy to attract immigrants and sustain them and assist them in finding employment.

Mandate:

  • Support the goals and objectives of the town's diversity and inclusion plan, provide a forum to engage community leaders, businesses, policy makers, immigrant service providing agencies, and immigrants/culturally diverse communities
  • Raise awareness in the larger community of various growing immigrant communities, immigration trends and their socio-cultural backgrounds
  • Organize events to encourage friendship, meaningful interaction and common activities between newcomers and mainstream communities
  • Educate and raise public awareness of cultural diversity and growing immigrant population
  • Provide non-threatening community building through social change

Strategic focus:

  • Broader communication
  • Community outreach and engagement
  • Strengthening our neighbourhood
  • Provide a real sense of community and a place of opportunity
  • Promoting our town as a community of choice

Achievements to date:

  • Established the Diversity and Inclusion Committee – active, diverse group of people working together
  • Stratford culture club, presentations, different performances, ethnic food
  • Provided town with strategic advice and directions
  • Network with business communities, schools, service providers and community leaders
  • Partnered with immigrant serving agencies and community groups
  • Built positive networking with ethno cultural organizations and culturally diverse
  • Promotion of ethnic food
  • Multicultural events
  • International day for the elimination of racial discrimination

Canada day multicultural events:

  • Representation at town business forums
  • Hosted a big party and invited members from all the "Stratfords" from around the world, had host families
  • Develop links between immigrants and mainstream communities
  • Create opportunities where immigrants can look for information
  • Initiate community and friendly networks

Work with immigrant serving agency and community colleges:

  • Help immigrants become familiar with local employers (CGI, Sobeys, No Frills, Esso, KFC, Home Hardware, Industrial Park, Stratford etc.)

Nathalie Goguen, Councilor and President of he Intercultural Relations and Diversity Committee, City of Sherbrooke, Quebec

 

She is both a councilor and representative of the diversity in Sherbrooke, which is big city in Quebec. It is comprised of mostly French speakers but both Francophone and Anglophones live together in the community. In a 1 km radius around the downtown of Sherbrooke you will find 13 different churches. There are now people representing 131 different ethnicities living in Sherbrooke. Nathalie is the first elected immigrant in Sherbrooke. It is very good for the well being of your town to host intercultural festivals. The real need that immigrants have is employment. There are 1800 city employees of which 4.3% represent minorities. For employers to retain people you need public transportation and the bilingual aspect is also important. A common question among immigrants is "what can I do to become a good citizen of Canada". The answer of course is to do what you are passionate about. It is also important to make friends and create partnerships. There is a resource online for people to access and utilize regarding the need for volunteers, this allows them to review opportunities available even before they arrive in Sherbrooke. In Sherbrooke, the moment you put your feet in the city you are "Sherbrookoises", "la bienveillance" is the respect of the others, sharing, caring, and we all have that in common. The web resources can be found at website http://www.jesuissherbrookois.ca

Disclaimer

These summaries of the following discussions were prepared by volunteers from their notes taken during the workshops. While the CRRF fulfills its function as an organization which stimulates discussion on race relations issues, and provides opportunities for experts and communities to network and exchange information on these question, the posting of these summaries does not necessarily imply endorsement of the ideas and opinions expressed herein.