By: Marieke Walsh in Ottawa, ON

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne was repeatedly under attack and on the defensive Wednesday night during a debate on issues facing the black community.

The debate in Toronto’s Jane and Finch neighbourhood featured all major party leaders except Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford.

Wynne was taken to task for her government’s record on disproportionate numbers of black children facing suspension and expulsion, inequities in the health care system and the persistence of carding by police.

Throughout, the premier stuck to her talking points that the Liberal government has taken these issues “head on” and that “more needs to be done.”

At one point moderator Royson James called Wynne out for her response to systemic racism in the education system.

“You do know that whatever you’re doing isn’t working,” James asked Wynne. And he wondered if the people responsible for the school system understand the “urgency.”

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Stats show almost half of the black students who graduate high school don’t have the credits and grades needed to go to university and 42 per cent didn’t apply to post secondary school. -Royson James[/quote]

His follow-up was met with laughs and a shout of “clueless” from someone in the crowd of roughly 200 people.

“I get that there’s a huge frustration and I feel that frustration,” Wynne said.

At which point NDP Leader Andrea Horwath broke in with “15 years” — referencing the Liberal’s time in power.

James had previously listed several statistics pointing to the experience of black children in the Toronto District School Board in 2011.

Calling them “crushing statistics” he said the stats show almost half of the black students who graduate high school don’t have the credits and grades needed to go to university and 42 per cent didn’t apply to post secondary school. Moreover he said, of those students that apply, only one in four are accepted.

Of every 100 black students only 69 graduate, James said. Out of that number, he said only 18 end up in university or college.

He said the numbers are “worse” for boys, adding that half of the students expelled from school are black kids. “What do you plan to do about this abject failure of our schools to educate black students,” James asked the three leaders.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said the “first thing you have to do is admit that there’s a problem.”

“These stats aren’t new,” Horwath said. “I’d suggest that it’s getting worse and not better.” She said the government should deal with the curriculum in schools and ensure supports are there for students. This online casino prepares plenty of exciting offers and bonuses. But in order to try some online casino games it is better to start with free online slots.

Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner said the statistics show how much the “status quo is failing our young people.”

Meanwhile, Wynne defended her government’s record on implementing items like the Black Youth Action Plan and the Education Equity Action Plan while agreeing that more needs to be done.

“There is absolutely no doubt that there is more structural change that’s needed,” Wynne said.

Wynne got the loudest applause when she was first introduced at the event but it went downhill from there — she was at times jeered, challenged and interrupted by the crowd.

Speaking to reporters after the debate, she said the issues debated “are not simple” nor “easily dealt with.”

“What I was saying was that we have been tackling them, we have been addressing them and yes there is still more to be done,” Wynne said.

Horwath, who got a warm reception from the crowd by the end of the night, called the debate “very enjoyable.”

The Elephant not in the Room

Ford’s absence wasn’t addressed very much by the leaders during the debate, but was met with boos from the crowd when the event organizers noted his absence.

Speaking to iPolitics afterward, several audience members said his absence would hurt Ford, while another said he would still hear out the ideas put forward from the Progressive Conservatives.

Earlier in the day Wynne issued a letter challenging Ford to three debates, saying he hasn’t yet agreed to a single one ahead of the June election.

Speaking to reporters afterward, Wynne said Ford is “the one person who wouldn’t have agreed with anything that we were saying and he wasn’t there to put his position forward.”

“It is really important that he show up and that he put his opinions forward because people need to understand what that contrast is,” she said.

Ford was in Northern Ontario on a campaign-style tour.

Horwath questioned Ford’s priorities and said the “community was pretty disappointed” by his absence.

Republished under arrangement with iPolitics

Published in Politics
Friday, 11 March 2016 11:37

Liberals Seek to Reunite More Families

by Rosanna Haroutounian in Quebec City  

In this week’s round-up of what’s been making headlines in Canada’s media: the federal government has a new plan to welcome immigrants that aims to reunite more families; women from ethnic communities in Canada call for a more inclusive International Women’s Day; and Saskatchewan language schools are dealing with a significant cut in provincial funding. 

Family reunification, refugees a focus: McCallum 

Canada will welcome between 280,000 and 305,000 immigrants in 2016, a significant increase from the number admitted in recent years. 

According to Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the 2016 target represents a 7.4 per cent increase in planned admissions compared to 2015. 

As reported in the Indo-Canadian Voice, IRCC said in its Mar. 8 announcement that this plan will emphasize family reunification in order to address the current backlog in processing applications and reunite families more quickly. 

“As we continue to show our global leadership, Canada will reunite families, offer a place of refuge to those fleeing persecution, and support Canada’s long-term economic prosperity,” immigration minister John McCallum is quoted as saying in the Voice. 

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]The Conservatives criticized the Liberal plan to cut the number of immigrants accepted under the economic class.[/quote]

2016 will also see an increase in the number of admissions under the Refugees and Protected Persons class to support the Liberal’s plan to resettle Syrian refugees, as well as increase the numbers of refugees accepted from other countries including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Colombia, and Eritrea. 

Migrants without status in Canada have asked the government to grant them the same rights that are given to Syrian refugees and to process their claims for status that they say the previous Conservative government ignored. 

The Conservatives criticized the Liberal plan to cut the number of immigrants accepted under the economic class. 

“It is the responsibility of the federal government to balance the needs of the Canadian economy with our humanitarian responsibilities,” said Michelle Rempel, Opposition Critic for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, the Voice reported. 

IRCC said the economic class will still make up the majority of immigration admissions in 2016, representing more than half of the total. 

On Mar. 7, Quebec’s provincial government announced its new immigration policy, which also puts an emphasis on matching immigrants to the needs of its labour market. The plan, called “Together, We Are Quebec,” also aims to retain international students and temporary workers. 

Other provinces, like Nova Scotia, are still negotiating with the federal government to gain authority over their immigration targets and say they won’t see changes in their quotas until 2017. 

A more inclusive image of women in Canada 

On Mar. 3, Canadian Immigrant magazine presented its third annual “Immigrant Women of Inspiration,” which focused on the theme of immigrant women in academia for 2016. 

Ananya Mukherjee-Reed, Shalina Ousman, Parin Dossa, Leonie Sandercock and Purnima Tyagi are not only PhDs in various areas of study but “are pushing boundaries in education, in their passionate pursuit of knowledge, ideas and change.” 

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]In Canada, black women and other women of colour find themselves missing not only from movements for gender diversity, but also from seats of power.”[/quote]

Some women say there is a need for more interfaith, intercultural events and dialogue to mark International Women’s Day (IWD) in Canada. 

In a column for CBC Edmonton, Nakita Valerio wrote that rhetoric surrounding IWD does not promote intersectional or inclusive feminism. 

She wrote that debates in Canada around issues concerning ethnic women, such as a Muslim woman’s decision to wear a niqab or a hijab, highlight how the day “accentuates the fact that equality for women in this country is still heavily tied to the individual's background, religious, racial, or otherwise.” 

In the Globe and Mail, Septembre Anderson wrote that the definition of “women” used in IWD discourse does not include women of colour. 

In Canada, black women and other women of colour find themselves missing not only from movements for gender diversity, but also from seats of power.” 

Both columnists pointed out that while 2016 marks 100 years since women in several provinces won the right to vote, Asian and African women in Canada gained this right much later, a struggle which is not described in the commemorative materials. Anderson called on women in power to work with women of colour and use their positions to eradicate discrimination. 

Uncertain future for Saskatchewan language schools 

The Saskatchewan Organization for Heritage Languages (SOHL) says it is disappointed to learn the province's Ministry of Education will stop providing it subsidies to run 80 heritage language schools. SOHL has been receiving provincial subsidies for 25 years and currently teaches over 30 languages. 

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]The organization says the decision is a step in the wrong direction at a time when Canada is accepting many new immigrants and refugees who need welcoming environments.[/quote]

“The schools focus on teaching language and culture to immigrants and refugees, and improving access to indigenous languages,” reports CBC. SOHL's executive director Tamara Ruzic told the Regina Leader-Post that about 10 language schools have opened each year, many teaching Arabic. 

She added that the $225,000 SOHL receives is “peanuts to the government.” 

Minister of Education Don Morgan said that the decision was made for economic reasons, and added that the funding, which amounts to $4.58 per student each month, can be paid by parents. 

“As a result of the announcement by the Ministry of Education, many of these non-profit heritage language schools will be faced with the difficult decision of whether they can continue to operate,” said Girma Sahlu, president of SOHL, in a press release.

The organization says the decision is a step in the wrong direction at a time when Canada is accepting many new immigrants and refugees who need welcoming environments and support in learning languages.

“The heritage language schools contribute to the retention of immigrants in Saskatchewan by helping people to maintain their culture, identity and traditions, while simultaneously learning about Canadian ways of life.”

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Published in Top Stories
Thursday, 17 December 2015 15:19

Peel Region Releases Sex-Ed Guide for Parents

by Sukaina Jaffer in Toronto

Unlike those in the Toronto and York districts, the Peel District School Board’s (PDSB) schools have taken a proactive approach in creating a 14-page sex-education guide for parents in the Peel region based on the controversially revised health curriculum issued by the Ministry of Education.

The guide provides information about the sexual-development topics introduced this year by the Ministry of Education. The PDSB translated the guide into 11 different languages and sent it home to all parents in November.

“The new curriculum has caused lots of questions and concerns about what was going to be taught, and there was a lot of misinformation circulating in the community,” says Ryan Reyes, communications officer at PDSB, who was the lead on creating this guide.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“This will help dispel misinformation and allow parents to play an active role in their child’s education.”[/quote]

He says he gathered content for the guide by working in consultation with different departments and taking feedback from community members.

The guide was translated into multiple languages in order to meet the needs of diverse populations in the Peel district, and has received endorsements from several of these diverse groups.

“The Peel District School Board’s parent guide to the revised health and physical education curriculum provides parents with a clear understanding of what their children will learn in each grade,” writes Eileen de Villa, medical officer of health at the Region of Peel. “This will help dispel misinformation and allow parents to play an active role in their child’s education.”

Balancing today’s realities with cultural values

Zaynab Zaidi received the guide from her four children’s public schools in Mississauga.

“I’m not a naive parent,” she says. “I understand why the curriculum is changing, because knowledge is power.”

“Teaching a child the proper names of their body parts is a way to protect them from sexual predators so a child is less vulnerable,” she adds. “I don’t have a problem with my kids learning about anatomy, physiology and human reproduction in an age-appropriate manner.”

However, she says she is concerned about the curriculum because it treats relationships between boys and girls as normal.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]"We can reinforce our values without demonizing other people.”[/quote]

“Since this type of socializing is not in line with our values, we prefer to cover the material at home in the context of our values,” she says.

She adds that in Islam, there is a certain code of conduct for “appropriate social interaction between boys and girls.” The Zaidis are opting to pull their daughter, who is in grade seven, out during these lessons.

“We'll cover what material we think is appropriate at this point within the framework of the Islamic value system and the Islamic guidelines for interacting with the opposite gender,” she says.

Zaidi concurs that not participating at all is not possible because her daughter will be exposed to the issues by her classmates.

“We cannot ignore this and have to be involved parents, but the information has to be handled in the framework of our value system. We can reinforce our values without demonizing other people.”

Arun Anandarajah, president of the Senior Tamils Society of Peel, echoes Zaidi’s sentiments.

“Immigrants are coming into a new environment here, and kids here are more exposed than in other immigrant societies,” he says. “It was taboo to discuss sexual matters in the old environment, but in the new environment we live in, it has to be addressed.”

He says he believes that the provincial government has not made the changes blindly. “They have looked at it before introducing it and the impact it will have,” he says.

More resources are available

Not all school boards have taken the step in creating such a guide.

“The TDSB has not created resources like those in Peel,” says Ryan Bird, communications officer at the Toronto District School Board (TDSB). “We have been encouraging parents to look at the Ministry of Education resources, which are available online and through schools. We also encourage parents to speak with their school principals for more information.”

Christina Choo-Hum, York Region District School Board (YRDSB) communications manager, also notes that they have sufficient material on their website from the ministry in multiple languages, and some simple guides for parents in different languages.

Although the human development and sexual-health component of the curriculum will be taught in all public schools in the spring of 2016, Reyes says, “Any parent can make a choice to apply for religious accommodation to pull out their child from class,” as parents will get notice two weeks before lessons are taught.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Sometimes kids may feel more comfortable speaking with their teachers than parents.[/quote]

However, there is no exclusion granted when inclusion and different kinds of family systems are taught. Inclusion is taught throughout the year in all forms of the curriculum.

Communication with children difficult but necessary

Indira Sayanam (name changed for privacy), whose two daughters attend a public school in Richmond Hill, says she likes the new curriculum.

“It’s really hard for parents to explain these matters to their kids,” she says.

Sayanam’s daughters are in grades eight and five. She says she is concerned that her older daughter must be informed of all these issues before going to high school.

However, she says, she finds it challenging to speak to her because her daughter avoids the conversations, as she feels uncomfortable hearing about it from her mother.

“It’s necessary children are educated,” says Sameena Bhimani, a Grade 5 school teacher in the YRDSB. “In grade five, students are beginning to go through puberty and very early in the year are asking questions and talking amongst their peers.”

Bhimani says that parents need a push to discuss these matters, although she acknowledges that sometimes kids may feel more comfortable speaking with their teachers than parents.

According to Bhimani, there is not very much difference between the old and new curriculum.

She advises parents to discuss their values with their kids in order to open up the lines of communication.

“Many parents want to shelter their kids, but don’t realize kids are already discussing with their peers,” she says. “Unfortunately, children today are maturing faster.” 

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Published in Education

by Surjit Singh Flora (@floracanada) in Brampton, Ontario

It is surprising that the Ontario government has launched an advertising campaign about the controversial sexual-education curriculum, instead of engaging parents more directly and responding to their concerns.
Queen’s Park is using electronic and print media and some advertisements have already been released. The government surely hopes the campaign will lay to rest any remaining questions on the controversial curriculum change, but in my view, parental concerns run much deeper.
[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“It’s a sign that we understand that there’s a lot of misinformation out there,” Education Minister Liz Sandals was quoted as saying.[/quote]
The government’s curriculum has many shortcomings, written in a language that makes it difficult to forecast the outcome – all in the name of “education”. Protesting organizations have called this curriculum "indoctrination". But at this juncture, the government sees the advertising campaign as the solution, adding more public spending to an already indebted government.
Not listening
“It’s a sign that we understand that there’s a lot of misinformation out there,” Education Minister Liz Sandals was quoted as saying. “This is a case where there’s enough misinformation out there that we believe that we actually need to get more accurate information into the public discussion.”
The government has shown that it is incapable of paying heed to the many parents who consider this curriculum a risk to the raising of their children. Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government appears keen to implement its agenda by all means. There is a chance this fight will be waged over a long time.
website advocating for parents claims it has been threatened with legal action by the Peel District School Board, which I find condemnable. This raises the following question: will the right of freedom of expression be taken away? Will legal action be taken to silence the voice of those who oppose this controversial curriculum?
Trust in the public school system has weakened over the last several months. The people’s trust in public institutions is much more important than the stick of law-and-order. The people’s trust can be regained through transparent dialogue and consultations, not through advertisement campaigns and the threat of legal action.
Mainstream media bias
The discriminatory behaviour of the mainstream media is also worthy of condemnation. In my experience, the mainstream media are so biased that they do not want to listen to anything or cover anything against the curriculum, with many journalists aiming to completely bury opposition.
Whenever protests were held, the mainstream media either failed to report them or have tended to downplay coverage.
[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Is the protection of our children “homophobia”? Will this topic that is of crucial importance to immigrant parents now be left in the hands of the government and mainstream media?[/quote]
The mainstream media may have different perspective on other subjects, but they seem united in opposing the protesting parents and favouring the government on the matter of the sex-ed curriculum.
At this point, it seems clear to me that the Wynne government and mainstream media want to suppress the voices of parents who oppose the curriculum, labelling their objections as “homophobic” or motivated by sheer ignorance.
Is the protection of our children “homophobia”? Will this topic that is of crucial importance to immigrant parents now be left in the hands of the government and mainstream media?
The government and mainstream media are ignoring a petition that has 185,000 signatures.
The same media ignored the “cultural genocide” of Indigenous children because it was considered an Indigenous matter; similarly, opposition to this controversial curriculum is being presented as driven by new immigrants only. In fact, all communities have been opposing it and the protest held at Queen’s Park on June 7, 2015 is proof enough.
Even if we were to grant that the issue is primarily a “new immigrant” concern, are new immigrants not also parents? Don’t they have a right to safeguard the well-being of their children?
Dubious authors
It is a matter of shame that the overseer of this curriculum, Benjamin Levin, has recently been convicted on charges related to child pornography. Levin was Ontario’s deputy education minister from 2004 to 2007 and a Wynne supporter, playing an important role in her transition team.
Levin frequented a website with discussion forums on the sexual exploitation of children and police found numerous images of child pornography on his computer. On July 8, 2013, Toronto police charged him with child exploitation and on May 29, 2015 the court sentenced him to three years in prison.
The mainstream media did not consider it reasonable to ask the government about the relationship between Levin and this sex-ed curriculum. The government repeatedly claims the curriculum will protect children from sexual exploitation and diseases, but more likely it is a case of “Jackals guarding the hens” as a Punjabi saying goes.
The government should immediately withdraw this sex-ed curriculum or make the necessary changes requested by parents. Further, all information about the people who helped draft the document should be made public. This issue is crucial to the security and future of our children. It is the government’s duty to reassure parents that this revision is in the kids’ best interests.

Surjit Singh Flora has lived in Brampton, Ontario for the last 25 years. He is a guest-column writer, news reporter and photographer who has been published all over the world in more than 100 newspapers, magazines and online. He is also the editor and publisher of the weekly English news magazine Asia Metro Weekly.
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Published in Commentary

by Diba Hareer (@DibaHareer) in Ottawa, Ontario

In September 2010, I received a phone call from Afghanistan. My relative, Meena, was on the other end. The Grade 9 schoolgirl was upset because her father had pulled her out of school when she reached puberty.

Meena was confined at home for over two months, unable to get permission to return to school. Her call from a village in Baghlan province, 230 km northeast of Kabul, was a desperate cry for help from my father, an elder of our extended family. Luckily, he influenced Meena’s father to let her resume school.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]It is difficult to increase the literacy rate in Afghanistan with so many girls not completing school.[/quote]

Meena’s plight informed my future academic research: The Influence of Traditions and Cultural Norms on Girls’ School Withdrawal in Afghanistan. It turns out Meena was incredibly lucky – a significant number of girls never make it back to school.

Fewer Girls in Secondary School

It is difficult to increase the literacy rate in Afghanistan with so many girls not completing school. These girls simply add to the large population of illiterate women in the world.

A World Bank report says that since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, education for Afghan girls has improved significantly with school enrolment over 3.75 million in 2015, compared to 191,000 in 2002.

While this increase seems promising, High Stakes – a joint briefing paper about the many hurdles girls in Afghanistan face in getting an education – reports a dramatic decrease in enrolment at the secondary school level and higher.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]My research has shown that in over a decade since the fall of the Taliban, not much effort has been made to retain female students in schools, especially in the rural areas where 75 to 80 per cent of the country’s population lives.[/quote]

The United States Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has also expressed concern over the Afghan Ministry of Education’s vague record of the number of students currently present in schools.

The ministry’s records show that in 2014 out of 8.35 million students (both genders) enrolled, 6.6 million were present and 1.55 million were permanently absent.

According to the Afghan education system, an absent student’s name remains on the roll for three years; then he or she is considered a permanent absentee. The records do not indicate the number of students who dropped out or were withdrawn from school during this time.

My research has shown that in over a decade since the fall of the Taliban, not much effort has been made to retain female students in schools, especially in the rural areas where 75 to 80 per cent of the country’s population lives.

Foreign countries like Canada have provided assistance, though. Canada has spent over $2 billion investing in numerous educational projects for Afghanistan between 2002 and 2013 and renewed its commitment to Afghanistan from 2014 to 2017 focusing on education, mothers’ health, human rights, women’s rights and building the capacity of local organizations.

Positive Impact of Education Overlooked

Many cultural and non-cultural factors prevent Afghan girls from staying in school.

Parents’ or guardians’ lack of awareness about the benefits of schooling for women, combined with fear of elopement or kidnapping, and in many cases wrong interpretation of Islamic teachings, all prevent girls in rural areas from getting a high school education, if not more.

Recently, Mohammad Younus Yousufi, Provincial Head of Kandahar Province, urged parents to allow their daughters to complete high school. “Every year we witness older girls leaving school. We know it is because families withdraw them,” he has been quoted as saying.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]People say a girl should learn how to pray and observe fast, and that is enough.” - Research participant[/quote]

Through my research I found it is a common belief among rural people that when a girl reaches puberty education has no purpose in her life; she should prepare for marriage and learn how to do housework and be a caregiver. One of my research participants spoke of the community attitude towards girls’ education by saying: “People say a girl should learn how to pray and observe fast, and that is enough.”

Often overlooked, especially among men, is the positive impact of girls’ education on their personal lives and their future married life, even if it doesn't help them to get employed. After all, securing employment is another obstacle for girls, and there are minimum “female jobs” in the rural areas.

Some Families ‘Worse Than Taliban’

Rana was studying in Grade 11 at age 18 when her brother pulled her out of school in 2012. Her mother explained the motive: “My son told his sisters, ‘do the housework. That will benefit you in your future [after marriage]. School has no benefit for you.’”

Similarly, 20-year-old Farha was in Grade 8 when her only brother stopped her from attending school. Likewise, her 18-year-old sister Gulnar was prevented from going to school in Grade 9. (The reason for the discrepancy between their age and the grade they were attending is because girls were banned from school under the Taliban from 1996 to 2001, and the earlier turmoil from 1992 to 1996 that kept many girls out of school.)

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“If my son had a mind of his own, he would have said, ‘whatever people say I won’t buy. Until I [have] seen my sisters being corrupted, talking and flirting with boys, I won’t believe it.’” - Mother of girls withdrawn from school[/quote]

Farha and Gulnar’s mother said the rumours spread by villagers about schoolgirls are a major problem. “If my son had a mind of his own, he would have said, ‘whatever people say I won’t buy. Until I [have] seen my sisters being corrupted, talking and flirting with boys, I won’t believe it.’”

When asked if there are any threats from the Taliban, the mother responded: “There isn’t any threat from Taliban, but some families are worse than Taliban. Uncles and relatives are worse than Taliban.”

Farha and Gulnar represent hundreds of thousands of girls in Afghanistan whose rights to education are being denied.

According to the High Stakes report, a schoolteacher in Parwan province suggests that if schools maintain regular contact with parents through meetings, this will help them see the benefit of education and cooperate in sending their daughters to school despite the challenges. 

Cases like Meena need not be rare. Meena graduated from high school in 2013 and was one of the few girls who went on to study further in the Khinjan district of Baghlan province. This year she will complete a teacher-training program in the district and hopefully get a job in her field.  

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Published in Education

Vancouver has long attracted tens of thousands of overseas students each year from Asian countries like China, India, Japan, Korean, and Singapore.

The Philippines now looks to be the next recruitment hotspot.

The number of Filipinos going to Canada to study has increased at “quite an impressive” rate, according to the Canadian ambassador to the Philippines.

“We’ve had a doubling of the number of Filipino students in the past two years,” said Ambassador Neil Reeder speaking to The Inquirer. 

Reeder was at Tenement Elementary School in Taguig City recently for the Department of Education’s Brigada Eskwela program, which gathers community members to repair and clean up schools.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“I can kind of feel a growing interest in Canada as a study destination because it (offers) good quality (education), it’s safe and it’s multicultural.” - Neil Reeder[/quote]

According to the Canadian diplomat, Ottawa issues nearly 3,000 student visas a year. “So that’s quite impressive.”

Reeder added that while there was obviously a big flow of Filipino guest workers, caregivers and temporary labour to Canada, he could see that the “student flow was picking up as well.”

He said Canada was “now the second most popular destination for (International School of Manila students) after the United States.”

“I can kind of feel a growing interest in Canada as a study destination because it (offers) good quality (education), it’s safe and it’s multicultural,” he said.

BC Booming With International Students

University of British Columbia for instance, according to Reeder, has ‘thousands and thousands’ of undergraduates from the Asia Pacific so Asians who study there “feel at home.”

Reeder added that studying in Canada was “cost effective.” There were no private universities there and tuition was “kept down.”

“So for foreign students, it can be as little as half the cost of going to study with some of the other competitors,” he said.

The Canadian government also offers students the opportunity to study and work at the same time, unlike other countries which require students to go back to their home countries between courses or after they obtain their degrees.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]We want students to stay. So you can get a work visa and actually work up to three years and that time can count … toward residency if you decide to become a citizen.” - Neil Reeder[/quote]

As a result in British Columbia, the international student population has boomed tremendously over the past decade. Where traditionally universities and colleges in Vancouver had large international student populations, now more remotely located schools in the Interior and North also have large foreign student numbers.

A significant number of international students who graduate with Canadian degrees go on to become citizens, adding to the international ‘brain gain’ inflow into the country from overseas countries.

“We give work visas to students now. So in between classes you can study. In the summer you can study, you can study for up to three years. We want students to stay. So you can get a work visa and actually work up to three years and that time can count … toward residency if you decide to become a citizen,” Reeder said.

He said the Canadian Embassy conducted two student fairs in the last six months, with the one in Makati attended by around 3,000 students and parents.

He said the Commission on Higher Education signed an agreement with Canada’s Bureau of International Education in a bid to “facilitate student exchanges in both directions, professor exchanges, academic linkages.”

Published in Partnership with The Filipino Post.

Published in Education
by Ranjit Bhaskar
This being the season of remembrances, a community dialogue was launched in Toronto to promote broader public respect for the human rights of Indigenous peoples and peoples of colour in Canada.
“We need to do a lot of remembering about the injustices inflicted on one of the founding peoples of Canada now that we are slowly but surely coming to know about the other history,” said Marie Wilson, one of the commissioners of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada.
“It is time to remember the more than 4,000 aboriginal children who never returned to their homes after being sent to residential schools by the Canadian government,” said Ms. Wilson reminding us of the infamous history of Indian Residential Schools and the impact it had on First Nation communities.
She said this part of our collective history was not “taught in our schools, was not part of the [test] criteria for citizenship for new Canadians, was not part of the Welcome to Canada package.”
Ms. Wilson said the TRC’s requests to the government on providing input for the welcome package was rejected, “but we haven’t let up on that.”
“Perhaps if the pressure comes from the new Canadian community itself, it will have a different outcome,” she said urging newcomers not to be indifferent to the travails of the First Nations.
“We cannot cherry pick the history we inherit. We need to invest in our collective understanding and put a halt to... our mass ignorance and change the way we look at each other, talk to each other and talk about each other,” Ms. Wilson said.
Unequal relationship
“Every single aboriginal person in Canada has been impacted by the ill-effects of the residential school system,” said Justice Murray Sinclair, the Chief Commissioner of the TRC and the keynote speaker. “It was an attempt to erase their way of life and indoctrinate them with a new culture. To do away with Indians as Indians.”
Justice Sinclair said the Canadian government’s attempts to build a relationship of equals with First Nations were unjust as it comes after years of creating an unequal relationship.
“Far too many Canadians – including many peoples of colour and First Peoples, are unaware of the Canadian history of colonization of the Indigenous peoples and the exclusion of communities of colour,” said Avvy Go of the Colour of Poverty/Colour of Change, one of the lead organizers of the event.   “It is our hope that today’s dialogue will foster positive relationships among First Peoples and peoples of colour as we support each others’ struggles for justice,” said Ms. Go.
Barbara Hall, Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission said her organization was pleased to be part of this initiative. “The TRC is a small body with a big mandate and we all have a role in its efforts at reconciliation,” said Ms. Hall.
We are all Treaty people, and we share a collective responsibility to help bring about justice and equality for all. Reconciliation for indigenous peoples and peoples of colour is an important first step towards that goal,” said Debbie Douglas, Executive Director of Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI).
A statement of Commitment to Truth, Justice and Reconciliation was presented at the event and all participants were asked to sign the document which calls for, among other things:
·         The use of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework for working towards ongoing reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples;
·         Reparations for historical wrongs that have yet to be acknowledged and/or redressed by the governments in Canada; and
·         The extension of the mandate of the TRC.
The event was co-organized by OCASI, OHRC and the Metro Toronto Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic.  Sponsored by Osgoode Hall Law School of York University, it also marked the 250th anniversary of the Royal Proclamation of 1763 that acknowledged the rights of the aboriginal people and the 25th anniversary of the Canadian Multiculturalism Act.
Earlier in the day, the City of Toronto proclaimed November 12, 2013 to November 12, 2014 the Year of Truth and Reconciliation in Toronto to acknowledge aboriginal peoples affected by the Residential School System. – New Canadian Media
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