& occasionally about other things, too...

Saturday, June 18, 2011

About Canada: Immigration

Immigration to Canada is not easy. The fate of immigrants after they arrive is fraught with uncertainties. It’s an accepted fact amongst most newcomers that the first generation has to “sacrifice” so that the children do well.
The newcomer faces deeply entrenched but cleverly camouflaged discrimination.
It’s a vicious circle: You can’t get a job because you have no "Canadian experience" and you can’t get "Canadian experience" because you don’t have a job.

Shubnam Budhwani is with Skills For Change, a not-for-profit that works with newcomers to help them settle better.
Speaking about Canadian experience at the launch of the study Immigration, by Nupur Gogia and Bonnie Slade, she said she once saw a father helping his young daughter climb a wall at a park. As the father encouraged her to climb higher, he was also cautioning her of the risks.

Shubnam, an immigrant, remarked that this reminded her of her own childhood in India. And even though the play obstacles were different in India, she realised that any child could climb the wall in the Canadian park without really having any “Canadian experience.”
Immigration is published by Fernwood Publishing as part of its About Canada series. The series publishes books on a variety of subjects that provide “basic – but critical and passionate – coverage of central aspects of our society.”

The slim treatise is a shocking documentation of all that is wrong with Canada’s immigration policy and practice. Though there are definite improvements from the racially discriminatory practices of the past, the official policy that seemingly treats everyone equally doesn’t necessarily translate into equal acceptance of the newcomer.
My family, as many other families, continue to face discrimination. My wife, despite a local qualification and hours of volunteer work, still doesn’t have a job.

Moreover, had it not been for my own Indian community, which recognised my experience and gave me a suitable opening, I would’ve continued to flounder in a low-paying survival job in this new home that I had so enthusiastically and determinedly adopted.

What troubles me is that Nupur Gogia and Bonnie Slade say that even my son, who will grow up here and is turning into a fiercely patriotic Canadian, would still continue to face discrimination.
The launch event at the Toronto Women’sBookstore was an engaging event. In addition to the authors and Budhwani, Avvy Go from The Colour of Poverty also made a powerful presentation.

And there was lots of wine, and cheese.

1 comment:

  1. Mayank, it was ever thus...in my community, previous generations of immigrants connected each other with work, opened their own small businesses, sacrificed for the good of the family (in my mother's father's family, all the children helped financially so that the oldest son could go to university; my father started working at 12 to help support his family...). still, it is shocking to think things haven't changed much on this score (how hard it can be for immigrants to get a firm toehold). i sincerely hope your son will not face discrimination. please do not give up hope--the country is filled with many, many good people.