Tuesday, 14 March 2017 16:06

Whitening Your Resumé to Get the Job

Commentary by Hamlin Grange in Toronto

While working as a television journalist with Canada's public broadcaster, CBC, in Toronto, I produced a documentary series on how new immigrants were settling in Canada. It was part of an effort by the CBC to celebrate Pier 21, the point of entry for up to one million immigrants to Canada from 1928 to 1971. Pier 21 was often called the "Gateway to Canada." Today it is a national historic site and museum.

For the series, TV cameras followed a man and his wife on their journey from Shanghai to Canada, and in their early weeks of settlement in Toronto. They had worked as electrical engineers in power plants in China. Now, like all new immigrants, they were starting over.

We were there when they moved into their one-bedroom apartment above a convenience store. We were there when they went to the local job placement office to search for jobs and to update and print off their resumes. And we there when they bumped up against the stark reality of discrimination.

I knew him by his real name, which was, of course, Chinese. His accented English was quite good because he studied English in China. We talked frequently during those weeks, exchanging phone calls to catch up on his efforts to find a job.

Then one day I got a message that “Andrew” had called. I didn’t recognize the name. Once I called back, I recognized his voice right away. He was the same person I’d been talking to all those weeks, except his new name was Andrew. I asked him why he had changed his name. He said that acquaintances in Toronto’s Chinese community had advised him to change his Chinese name to a “Canadian name” if he wanted to get a job. That’s what Chinese immigrants have to do, he was told. Once he changed his name, his phone began to ring.

I recalled that story as I read a Toronto Star story about a new study by University of Toronto researchers. According to the study, 40 per cent of non-white job seekers are “whitening” their resumes in order to get called for job interviews. Names such as the Chinese “Lei” become “Luke”.

That’s not the only change applicants are making to their resumes in their effort to ‘whiten’ their profiles.

Only 10 per cent of African-Canadians who included experience with African-Canadian organizations were invited to interviews, but that rate jumped to 25.5 per cent when they deleted that experience from their resumes.

I can certainly relate to this. When I was recruited by the CBC in the late 80’s, a manager on the hiring panel asked me if I could be “objective” covering the black community because he noticed I had indicated on my resume that I had volunteered with a few black community organizations.

I told him I could be objective and that because of my involvement in that community I had unique access to a community other reporters did not have. I also pointed out that my resume also included my volunteer work with the YMCA and that I am certain I would be able to objectively cover stories about the Y. I got the job.

Sonia Kang, the lead author of “Whitened Resumes, Race and Self-Representation in the Labour Market” says the findings show that job applicants from racial minority groups are fighting back against discrimination.

In our practice at DiversiPro, we have heard these stories over and over. They are not new. We have been told of immigrants changing their names, their accents and their experience to be more acceptable to other Canadians.

We’ve also heard from immigrants from former British or French colonies in the Caribbean and elsewhere whose European names have disguised their race or ethnicities until they turn up for a job interview – only to find the welcome mat withdrawn.

In the current political climate in the United States, and to a lesser degree even in Canada, many individuals are cautious about how they identify themselves. In a time of "travel bans" and screening for "Canadian values", it's no surprise some new immigrants may decide to minimize their differences in order to be accepted.

The encouraging news is that new immigrants and people from racial minority backgrounds are finding ways to adapt and work around a system that is not often based on merit but how well a hiring manager believes a job candidate will “fit” into the organization.

I have no doubt that such short-sightedness has deprived companies of competent, hardworking individuals who could have contributed to the bottom line.

Hamlin Grange is a Diversity and Inclusion specialist and principal consultant with DiversiPro.

Published in Economy

by Priya Ramanujam in Toronto 

In Canada, Muslim people are often spoken about, rather than the people who are doing the speaking. 

It is one of the reasons the Outburst! Young Muslim Women’s Program is needed, says the program’s advisory committee chair — writer, poet, and arts and equity educator Rania El Mugammar.

The program recently launched Homebound IIII, its latest collection of Muslim women’s poetry, during its fourth annual Volume: Sisters Make Noise showcase held at Daniels Spectrum in Toronto. 

Homebound is a collection of poetry written by six young women who self-identify as Muslim through spiritual, familial, ancestral, cultural or political connections. During six months, the women came together bi-weekly to share “herstories,” explains the book’s preface. 

“This was a sacred place where our worlds came together, and we felt less disjointed, taking parts of each other and making a whole,” it reads. 

The result: 36 pages of powerful tales exploring everything from the immigration experience to young love, carefully crafted in various styles of poetry. 

You can exist

El Mugammar says that in Muslim communities, events are often separated into the “sister side” and the “brother side.” 

The sister side is taking care of children, preparing food for everyone, organizing and cleaning up. It’s not usually invited to participate. Both the book and its launch — an evening of spoken word, poetry, and musical performances by Muslim women — represent something that is lacking. 

“I think it’s critical to just carve out space and say this is just for us . . . this is our space,” explains El Mugammar, who performed at all four editions of Sisters Make Noise and mentored many of the current and past contributors to Homebound

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“This was a sacred place where our worlds came together, and we felt less disjointed, taking parts of each other and making a whole.”[/quote]

Resilience and strength in the face of adversity are common threads found throughout Homebound. In her poem, “choose you,” Urooj (MC Shahzadi) writes: 

Even in this damned society you can exist,

Blessed with experiences filled of heavenly bliss,

Take the hardest moments as a reminder to choose,

The choice towards a destiny only determined by you.

In the book’s preface, Outburst facilitators Jamila-Khanom Allidina, Rosina Kazi, and Shameela Zaman reflect on this verse, writing, “Not only do we exist, we fight, we laugh, we write and centuries of Muslim women’s resilience is celebrated and remembered. Even if it’s just to remind ourselves: we are powerful, breathtaking and brilliant.”

Fighting to claim stories

El Mugammar says she likes to tell stories of the people in her life, primarily Sudanese women. These stories, she says, are missing from the very public, “Google-and-find-it” type of mainstream historical documentation. 

“Our day-to-day lives, they often get lost,” she says. “I don’t want the women that I know helped shape me to be the person that I am today to be forgotten.”

These daily experiences are creatively woven throughout Homebound

In “skype-shype,” Reema Kureishy captures what it’s like to video chat with her grandparents in her native country, India, effectively detailing their minimal understanding of how to work with technology and the endless promises of “coming home” thrown back and forth. 

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“I think it’s critical to just carve out space and say this is just for us . . . this is our space,” explains El Mugammar.[/quote]

In “thoughts in a waiting room,” Seema (who goes only by her first name) offers a story about the agonizing pain of finding out if a parent has cancer.

In the book’s opening piece “jung,” Kureishy writes about the fight “to claim not land, but our stories.” 

As El Mugammar points out, these stories are important for everyone, not just Muslim women, to listen to and read. 

“A lot of people...who may not identify with that identity of being a young, Muslim woman… can identify with a lot of the feelings, a lot of the kinds of stories that we tell.”

I am real… 

El Mugammar says that Outburst allows racialized women like herself to be showcased as more than one-dimensional. 

She explains that while she has often relied on writing to release some of the anger she feels about the social injustices and oppression she experiences, she is more than the “angry, Black woman” people are quick to label her as. 

“I’m also funny and smart and a whole lot of other things,” she says, adding that the Outburst program allows participants to explore the multi-faceted aspects of their personalities, experiences, and community’s stories. 

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Resilience and strength in the face of adversity are common threads found throughout Homebound.[/quote]

Dumo, an Outburst alumni and co-host of the Sisters Make Noise event, exemplifies this multi-faceted experience in her high-energy monologues. One is about her mother interrupting her Dragon Ball Z episodes to cart her off to Qur’an lessons, another about convincing her Muslim parents to allow her to participate in the school Christmas concert.

As another woman of East African descent, El Mugammar says that while watching Dumo, she felt a strong sense of connection. 

“There was a young girl,” she begins, referring to 11-year-old Marley Dias of the United States, “who started a Black girls’ book club because she was tired of reading about ‘white boys and dogs’ and in a lot of ways, I feel the same. It’s always nice to get the kind of humour and the kinds of stories that are absolutely relevant to my life.”  

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Published in Books

by Beatrice Paez in Toronto 

July 1, 2016 marks 93 years since the Chinese Immigration Act came into force, which marked the culmination of a decades-long initiative to limit Chinese immigration to Canada.

The Chinese head tax already existed to discourage immigration. By 1903, migrants were required to pay a $500 head tax, equivalent to two years’ worth of wages, to gain entry into Canada.

In the second half of the 19th century, many young Chinese men were sent to Canada with the hopes of earning enough money to support families back home and, eventually, to send for them. Though the head tax stemmed the flow of immigration, almost 100,000 still arrived from 1885 to 1923.

“The 19th century was highly mobile, perhaps as mobile as now. Chinese migrants would work overseas and regularly go back to visit,” says Henry Yu, a history professor at the University of British Columbia.

In order to stop the influx, the government passed the Chinese Immigration Act, which limited entrance to only merchants, scholars, diplomats and Canadian-born Chinese returning after educational pursuits abroad.

It would take 24 years for the Act to be lifted, a period during which only 15 Chinese immigrants were allowed into Canada.

Initial Chinese immigration to Canada

Famine and economic deprivation propelled many in China to leave in search of opportunity, or head to Gold Mountain, as British Columbia’s gold rush came to be known, says John Atkin, co-chair of the Chinese Canadian Historical Society in B.C.

They eked out a meagre living — relative to their white counterparts — working on the railroad, in fishing, forestry, among other industries.

Still, the prospect of steady employment far outweighed concerns about racial discrimination and hostile attitudes toward them. Villages cobbled their resources together to cover the head tax so that one of their own could emigrate, says Atkin.

“A lot of these workers would try to bring their families over,” says Jan Ransk, a researcher at Pier 21.

Growing hostility and the Chinese Immigration Act

With the head tax deemed an ineffective deterrent, Canadians demanded that the federal government end Chinese immigration. The “nativist response” originated in B.C., the front lines of immigration, where many felt their economic livelihood was under threat as they sought employment in the same trades as immigrants, says Ransk.

Their perceptions were largely coloured by “notions of immigrant desirability,” with Asians being deemed inferior, he adds.

“It’s from a period of time that, from our perspective, is so hard to comprehend how normal it was just to discriminate automatically against a whole class of people,” says Atkin.

The Chinese Immigration Act was enforced on July 1, 1923, coinciding with Dominion Day, which commemorated the formation of Canada as a Dominion in 1867. But for Chinese-Canadians, what was marked with parades and fireworks was a stinging reminder of their second-class status, and they called it Humiliation Day.

They abstained from participating or holding celebrations that day, until the act’s repeal in 1947.

Effects on the Chinese-Canadian community

Yu’s maternal grandfather settled in Vancouver in 1923, just before the implementation of the Act.

It was only in 1965 that Yu’s family could be reunited in Vancouver, but even then his mother, as an adult, needed to apply for special consideration.

This sort of exclusion perpetuated what had become a “bachelor society” in the Chinese-Canadian community. Census data from 1911 reveals that there were 2,800 Chinese men for every 100 Chinese women, as reported in Arlene Chen’s book “The Chinese in Toronto from 1878.”

“Exclusion had a devastating effect because for those already here, those generations after generations were cut off,” says Yu. “If you weren’t married already before 1923 and you had no family, it was harder both to create one and to bring family members over.”

The community was also forced to wrestle with the prospect they would be deported. “The immediate effect was that the folks that were here didn’t want to leave  —  they might not be allowed back in,” says Atkin.

What emerged in response were Chinese schools to educate children on their heritage and to prepare them for life in China should they be forced to return.

The repeal of the Immigration Act and the necessity of remembering

Apart from the efforts of community leaders, what ultimately paved the way for the lifting of the Exclusion Act were Chinese immigrants’ wartime contributions. They were one of the largest purchasers of war bonds during the Second World War, notes Atkin. Despite not qualifying as citizens, about 600 Chinese enlisted in the war.

“[Their military service] brought their efforts to the fore,” says Ransk. “The fact that they’re seeing women donate time, selling baked goods, made [Canadians] realize that pre-war notions of exclusion and thinking this community was unpatriotic, was complete nonsense.”

On June 22, 2006, the Harper government issued a formal apology to Chinese-Canadians who had paid the head tax; their survivors or spouses were given $20,000 in compensation.

For Yu, the apology was bittersweet and long overdue. “By 2006, it didn’t do those who actually paid the head tax any good,” he says. “Most of those people had long passed away.”

Suk Yin Ng, a librarian at the Toronto Public Library, immigrated from Hong Kong as a student in the 1970s. She is now leading an effort within the library to collect and establish a physical Chinese-Canadian archive, from 1878 up to today.

Ng will be collecting a range of ephemera, from diaries and old photographs to head tax certificates and grocery bills.

“It’s difficult for them to part with their [family documents],” says Ng. “But they realize that this is the right thing to do before they disappear. I think they’re happy to find a good home, to let people know the contributions of their grandparents.”

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Published in History

by Tazeen Inam in Mississauga 

When we study the history of our country, should we examine it critically, use it to inform current policies, or highlight our national successes and values?

The question “Why Study History?” was the subject of a survey conducted by the firm Leger Marketing for the Association for Canadian Studies.

The results reveal that people under 35 saw critical thinking skills as the best rationale for the studying of history. The 55 and over cohort was more likely to endorse the strengthening of identity.

The results also suggest that history educators have placed increasing emphasis on the need to develop critical thinking skills, whereas some governments feel that thickening national identities should be a component of history lessons.

Jenny Carson, an assistant professor at Ryerson University and a social historian, finds this age dichotomy interesting.

“[The younger group encompasses] potentially people who are entering the job market and are focused of how they can use their degrees to enter the job market which is totally fair; it is more than just learning critical thinking – of course,” she comments.

The older group seemed to take a more aspirational approach, seeking to reinforce and discover different identities. “Maybe older Canadians are able to think of it in that way [more] than younger Canadians because they are not thinking about it as a way to enter the labor market,” she suggests. 

The importance of understanding our history

Carson elaborates that while understanding the past doesn’t enable us to predict the future, but it may improve our ability to figure out what to do in our current situation.

“Understanding a woman — how did we go to vote, what was it like 100 years ago when we couldn’t vote — how do those kinds of limitations affect us and how we were able to mobilize to overcome them?”

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]"Those movements have their roots in past social movements.” [/quote]

She continues, “Social movements, civil rights movements — those are relevant and important movements for today. We have the Black Lives Matter [movement] or the movement to end income inequality. Those movements have their roots in past social movements.”

Summarizing her point, Carson states, “History tells us how people have created change.”

Professor of history from the University of Ottawa, Pierre Anctil, agrees with Carson: "A person who is not aware of the past very often will find themselves unable to understand the present.”

Critical thinking as a necessary tool

Anctil says that while history has always been influenced by actors, history requires "complete independence of opinion,” free from the whims of power groups or the actions of a state. 

“This is where we seek critical thinkers,” he says. “If we study the past we have to study on the basis of what we understand of the past, not a proposed narrative that will fit what the present requires.” 

When it comes to rediscovering or refashioning a country’s national identity, Carson emphasizes that we must analyze the actors’ reason for doing so.

She refers specifically to the Harper government’s redesign of the Canadian Museum of Civilization, which in 2012 was granted a $25 million overhaul.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Pierre Anctil says history requires "complete independence of opinion.”[/quote]

According to Carson, this was an attempt to “create this extremely celebratory history that didn’t pay enough attention to the ways on which Canadian history was about [the] displacement of indigenous people who were here first.”

Carson also describes a shift in the way history is taught in Canadian curriculum. While in the past it largely focused on politics and political actors who were predominantly white men, today the teachings are more diverse.

“That’s really important, that universities can connect themselves to what’s reflected in the history, not just the people who were in power who make decisions,” she states.

Teaching Canadian history today

Steven Schwinghamer, a historian at Pier 21, insists that history is really about a frank and front debate.

“It’s not about certainty. It’s not about finding one story. It’s about an exchange, and in a country like ours where there’s so much opportunity for interesting exchange, history is really valuable tool.” 

In a country as diverse as Canada, Anctil says finding a single story is next to impossible.

“There is not only one narrative to Canadian history; this is a conclusion to which most historians are coming to at present,” he explains.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“It’s not about certainty. It’s not about finding one story. It’s about an exchange."[/quote]

Moving forward, Carson says that in order to attract more critical thinkers to the study of history, creating personal connections is important. “If you teach it as a story and try to construct a narrative and make it about people, I think that is more relatable.”

For Schwinghamer, “History is fun.”

 

“Working with history means working with mysteries, with complicated questions,” he continues. “Finding these answers means immersing yourself in an amazing exploration of human past. It’s really satisfying.”

 

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Published in History

by Priya Ramanujam (@SincerelyPriya)

The contributions of immigrants to Canada are endless. Their stories are an integral part of the country’s history. A new exhibition at Halifax’s Canadian Museum of Immigration, set to open in May 2015, will highlight these contributions.

The museum, which is housed at Nova Scotia’s Pier 21, the entry point for more than one million immigrants between 1928 and 1971, will close its doors Oct. 25 for six months as it undergoes major transformations for the better.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“As Canada’s newest (and sixth) national museum, we are now able to continue to highlight the special role Pier 21 has played in shaping our nation, while also sharing the overarching story of immigration to Canada.”[/quote]

Upon reopening, the museum will feature two permanent exhibitions, one being the brand new Canadian Immigration Story gallery. This exhibition will encourage visitors of all ages to reflect on the immigrant experience, examining connections between past and present realities and thinking critically about how immigration shapes Canada today. It will combine first person stories, oral histories, artifacts and multimedia experiences to illustrate the Canadian immigration journey in an experiential way for visitors.

“As Canada’s newest (and sixth) national museum, we are now able to continue to highlight the special role Pier 21 has played in shaping our nation, while also sharing the overarching story of immigration to Canada,” said Marie Chapman, CEO of the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, in a press statement. It is estimated that one in five Canadians’ family history connects back to Pier 21, where 500,000 Canadian military personnel also departed from during the Second World War. “These are momentous times at the museum and we are so looking forward to once again welcoming visitors through our doors,” Chapman added.

The almost four-year-old organization received approximately $25 million from the federal government for upgrades to happen over a five-year period in addition to approximately $1 million in annual philanthropic support for education and public programming across the country. The renovated museum will boast a space nearly double its current size and a new rental facility for private functions.

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Published in News
Sunday, 27 July 2014 22:15

Grammar over Substance

by Tung Chan in Vancouver

I felt flattered when I received a request from Oxford University Press Canada for permission to include my article “Social disconnect leads to ethnic enclaves” in an upcoming e-book. My ego was deflated when I found out the book, Skill Set with Grammar, was about better usage of English grammar. My article will be included in the section containing samples of articles for readers to practice how to spot and correct improper usage of grammar.

As a matter of fact, feelings of hurt, humiliation and resentment ran through my mind. My initial reaction was to reject the request. Why do I want my article to be held out as an example of poor use of English Grammar? After all, English has been my working language for almost 40 years. Besides, the article was published by a respectable English newspaper whose editor had gone over the article and corrected any mistakes deemed unacceptable. So, if there were any bad choice of grammar, I am not the only person responsible.

I then thought of the so-called Donald Trump theory of publicity: It does not matter if it is good or bad publicity, as long as your name gets mentioned in the media. So with that in mind, I negotiated a very nominal honorarium and gave my permission.

But the real point of all of this, I thought, is how important it is to master correct usage of English grammar. I grew up speaking Chinese. I can read and write in both the classical or contemporary-style Chinese with ease. The difference between the two is almost like Victorian English used by Shakespeare and current-day English used by Margaret Atwood. However, people who are fluent in Chinese in its written form know that the Chinese language has a vastly different grammatical structure than English. The Chinese language does not have tenses. It uses reflective adjectives to describe time. Verbs are not modified according to whether the subject is singular or plural.

Just to make things more complicated, there are many exceptions to the rules in English grammar! So you can imagine how difficult it is for someone like me to try to master English grammar.

Discounting people

But throughout my career, I have seen how native speakers, particularly those who have a degree majoring in English, tend to look down upon or discount the ideas of people who write with improper grammar. To these people, inability to master English grammar is tantamount to weak skills of logic and even low IQ. So instead of trying to understand and appreciate the idea being presented, these folks would just put the paper aside and ignore the ideas no matter how worthy of consideration it may be.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]To these people, inability to master English grammar is tantamount to weak skills of logic and even low IQ.[/quote]

This is a terrible waste of talent and human resources because we live in a multicultural and multilingual environment. There are many people, myself included, who, no matter how hard we try, will have difficulty in achieving perfect use of grammar. You would have likely noticed several grammatical mistakes in this article so far! But to discount what I have to say in this article because of my grammatical mistakes would be to deny the merit of my argument.

Substance over style

There are two ways to remedy the situation. The first is to publish books -- like the ones published by Oxford University Press of Canada -- to help people to master English Grammar. The second, I think, is more important from my personal experience: that is for native English speakers to tone down their cultural superiority. They need to remove from their minds the notion that the ability to write in English correctly is an indication of mental capacity. What matters is the substance and not the expression of an idea.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]The second, I think, is more important from my personal experience: that is for native English speakers to tone down their cultural superiority.[/quote]

At the end of the day, my article still gets noticed and I am glad I will contribute to improving people's grammatical skills. And best of all, I now have bragging rights: having one of my articles published by the Oxford University Press Canada.

Editor's Note: This piece was lightly edited to improve clarity.

Tung Chan is Chairperson of the Board of Trustees at the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 and an Honorary Captain of the Royal Canadian Navy. Tung is also a member of the Board of the Vancouver Foundation, the Rick Hansen Institute and the Canadian Foundation Of Economic Education. From 2006 to 2010, Tung was the CEO of S.U.C.C.E.S.S., a social service agency in British Columbia. He is among this year's recipients of the Order of British Columbia.

Published in Commentary

A travelling exhibition which highlights the experiences of immigrants to Canada officially launched in Nanaimo, British Columbia, this week.

Canada: Day 1 is a Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21’s legacy project to commemorate Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017. The exhibit explores immigrant experiences from Confederation to present day.

“We are very excited to have our first travelling exhibition cross Canada with this beautiful and engaging exhibition which presents the Museum’s collection of stories in innovative and thought-provoking ways,” says Dan Conlin, curator at Pier 21.

The exhibition, currently showing at the Nanaimo Museum, in partnership with the Central Vancouver Island Multicultural Society, offers a combination of historical objects and reproductions; oral history accounts and original artwork. Examples include war bride documents, an oral history from a descendant of Black Prairie pioneers in Alberta, and artwork by Lin Xu entitled Holder of Dreams, a used suitcase filled with ceramic pillows, each printed with words conveying feelings and emotions in different languages.

Curators are hoping the exhibition will allow the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 to reach a greater audience and express the Museum’s national mandate, as well as build relationships with community groups, individuals, and museums across Canada, says Cailin MacDonald, communications manager at the museum. “Creating this exhibition also helps build and diversify our collections as we seek new stories and oral histories about people’s immigration experience,” she explains. 

That first day of physical arrival to Canada is a symbolic, personal and official milestone in the process of becoming Canadian.”


Dates & locations for the exhibition include:

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Nanaimo Museum, British Columbia                       June 2 – September 1, 2014              

Markham Museum, Ontario                                       January 16 – June 10, 2015

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The exhibition will travel for a total of five years and so far includes shows in Saskatoon, Moose Jaw, Red Deer, Edmonton and Gatineau.

To find out more, check out Pier 21’s website.

Published in History
Friday, 21 February 2014 19:01

High Bar to Strip Citizenship: Minister

by Contributing Editor Louisa Taylor in Halifax

New measures to strip citizenship from Canadians involved in terrorist activities will only apply to people convicted in a Canadian court and only if they are dual nationals with another country, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander said today.

The government had earlier signaled its intention to strip Canadians of their citizenship if they are involved in terrorist activities abroad, leading critics to say such a provision leaves Canadians vulnerable to false accusations from undemocratic regimes. But Mr. Alexander, speaking at a news conference in Halifax, said the new Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act makes it clear that terrorism convictions would have to be from Canadian courts and the provisions would only apply to people who have dual citizenship. He added that the measure is intended “to be a deterrent to dual nationals who might think of going to fight for extremist groups” in Syria or elsewhere.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]The legal threshold is very high,” Alexander later told New Canadian Media. “It’s there in the Act, and it only applies to dual citizens.”[/quote]

Bill C-24, which amends the Citizenship Act, was tabled in the House of Commons on Feb. 6. It refers to revoking citizenship from dual nationals “convicted of a terrorism offence as defined in section 2 of the Criminal Code — or an offence outside Canada that, if committed in Canada, would constitute a terrorism offence as defined in that section — and sentenced to at least five years of imprisonment,” as well as similar convictions under the National Defence Act.

It also notes that before revoking a person’s citizenship, the Minister has to notify the person in writing, giving them the grounds on which the decision is being made and the timeline the person has for making written arguments in his or her defence. The Act also gives the minister the right to call for a hearing into the case.

Mr. Alexander was speaking at the Pier 21, the Canadian Museum of Immigration, located in former immigration buildings in the port of Halifax. He has been on the road to Vancouver, Calgary and Winnipeg recently to talk about Bill C-24.

Lost Canadians

The minister’s Halifax appearance was intended to promote the aspects of the Bill related to the Lost Canadians, a group of people who were born in Canada but due to complicated regulations pre-1947 were denied the automatic right to citizenship because one of their parents wasn’t Canadian. The proposed amendments to the Citizenship Act grant citizenship retroactively to people born in Canada before 1947 and to the foreign-born children of Lost Canadians.

“I’m confident this Bill will help most Lost Canadians, though we know there may be some others who remain,” Mr. Alexander said. “We’ll look seriously at those, but we haven’t identified too many cases that aren’t dealt with” in the proposed amendments.

Bill C-24 also lengthens the amount of time a prospective citizen has to be resident in Canada, requires the provision of tax returns to prove residency and increases language requirements. Mr. Alexander says he hopes the bill will pass by the end of 2014.

The Immigration Minister was joined at the news conference by Peter MacKay, Minister of Justice and MP for Central Nova. Marie Chapman, CEO of Pier 21, thanked Mr. MacKay for his role in helping the museum attain crown corporation status in 2011. It is the second national museum to be located outside Ottawa (after the yet-to-open Canadian Human Rights Museum in Winnipeg).

More than one million Canadians began their new life by disembarking at Pier 21, and according to Citizenship and Immigration, one in five Canadians can trace their ancestors to the immigration gateway.

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Published in Top Stories

New Canadian Media provides nonpartisan news and views representing all Canadian immigrant communities. As part of this endeavour, we re-publish aggregated content from various ethnic media publishers in Canada in an effort to raise the profile of news and commentary from an immigrant perspective. New Canadian Media, however, does not guarantee the accuracy of or endorse the views and opinions contained in content from such other sites. The views expressed on this site are those of the individual writers and commentators, and not necessarily those of New Canadian Media. Copyright © 2019 All rights reserved