644 people crossed border into Quebec illegally so far in 2017: RCMP

By CTV News | A spokesman for Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale says Ottawa is reviewing the latest figures showing the number of people stopped by the RCMP after illegally entering Canada has climbed by more than 500 since January. Last month, the RCMP intercepted 887 people crossing between official border points, with 644 of them crossing into Quebec. Officers had stopped 658 people in February and 315 in January. Canada Border Service Agents say their American counterparts are not helping the situation. Most of the people crossing illegally have claimed asylum, with federal government figures showing three-thousand-440 asylum claims processed in March, compared with 2,885 the previous month. Some of those coming to Canada have told authorities they were motivated to leave the U.S. because of the new administration — fearing their asylum claims won’t be treated fairly or that general anti-immigrant sentiment is rising. Others have had Canada in their sights all along as their destination, obtaining U.S. visas solely for the purpose of coming here. Under the Safet Third Country Agreement, refugee claimants are required to claim asylum in either the U.S. or Canada, whichever country they arrive in first. However if a person enters Canada somewhere other than a border entry point, they are not considered to have been in another safe country such as the United States. Read...

Canada Deserves an ‘A’ for Immigration Innovation

By Kareem El-Assal, Research Associate, Education & Immigration The Conference Board of Canada They say that necessity is the mother of invention, and that adage holds true when looking at Canada’s approach to immigration. While Canada is not always known for being innovative, it has identified creative approaches to recruit newcomers and facilitate their integration into society for 150 years. Canada’s immigration system has certainly come a long way since Confederation, but the country will need to find new innovations to respond to the country’s current immigration necessities. A history of innovation In 1867, Canada had a population of just 3.5 million people. It desperately needed immigrants to grow its economy, secure its borders, and build a nation. In the decades following Confederation, Canada achieved some measure of success in populating its vast terrain—accomplished in large part due to the completion of a transcontinental railway that provided immigrants with access to farmland in the Prairies, and an aggressive recruitment campaign that attracted immigrants from the US and Europe. Perhaps the most innovative period for Canada’s immigration system has occurred over the past 50 years, with necessity once again being the impetus. As part of its efforts to increase its accessibility to more immigrants, Canada launched the world’s first points criteria system in 1967, which helped to evaluate the immigrants that would best align with Canada’s needs and identify those that would integrate most easily into the Canadian economy. Canada was not only ahead of its time then, but remains ahead of its time today. Only a few countries currently operate points systems. In response to humanitarian crises abroad, Canada...

Alberta bans hiring foreign workers for 29 high-skilled jobs

By CBC News | Alberta companies looking to hire temporary foreign workers in one of 29 high-skilled job categories will be directed to a new service that will match them with qualified local workers. The Alberta government initiative, believed to be the first of its kind in Canada, will be watched closely by the federal government to see if it can be implemented federally or in other provinces, federal Employment, Workforce Development and Labour Minister Patty Hajdu said in Edmonton Wednesday. “We’re always interested in good ideas, to reach that goal — to make sure that Canadians have the first shot at good paying jobs — and so we’ll be following the progress of the pilot very closely and all of that data will help inform us, but we are certainly open to replicating it if it show success in Alberta,” Hajdu said. The job categories covered under the new employer liaison service include civil and mechanical engineers, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, construction millwrights and heavy equipment mechanics. Under the 24-month pilot program, those job categories will be placed on a “refusal to process” list within the temporary foreign worker program. Instead, any company seeking a permit to bring in a foreign worker in those job categories will be contacted by staff in Alberta Labour and directed to potential local hires. Pool of unemployed workers The job categories were selected because there is a sufficient pool of unemployed workers with those skills within Alberta. The initiative was announced in Edmonton Wednesday by Alberta Labour Minister Christina Gray. Hajdu was also there. Gray said the program will be evaluated every quarter...

Chinese-Canadian police officer honoured with provincial award

By Chuck Chiang, Vancouver Sun | A Chinese-Canadian police officer has become the first person from either group to win B.C.’s Medal of Good Citizenship, the province announced. Terry Yung, who was also previously a board member and vice-chair at Vancouver-based immigrant services provider SUCCESS, received the award last Thursday for his community service “without expectation of remuneration or reward,” said the province in a statement. Besides SUCCESS, Yung has worked to diversify the Vancouver Police Department’s ranks in recent years, as well being involved with the Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver and the Community Security Committee of the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver. The award — which has caught the attention of local Chinese-language media — was created in July 2015. Read...

Youth and depression: The terrible mental toll on young refugees

By Rosemary Newton, Vancouver Sun | At a program run out of Cougar Creek Elementary School in Surrey, kids are sitting in classrooms drawing expressions on pages printed with blank faces, creating their own interpretations of happy, sad, excited and angry. One child, about seven years old, draws an angry face completely red; his depiction of a happy face is a big grin showing rows of teeth. In a class down the hallway, another group of children is doing a calming breathing exercise led by one of their peers. It’s a daily form of meditation and mindfulness that they learned earlier in the week. This child and youth empowerment program, run by DIVERSEcity Settlement Services, is for kids aged six to 12. Many of them are entering their second year as refugees in Canada and are experiencing trauma related to the stress of adapting to a new culture. Others have experienced or witnessed abuse. Counsellors with the program try to teach the children skills they can use when they’re feeling sad, angry or scared, said Corina Caroll, DIVERSEcity’s manager of counselling services. “And they can go, ‘Wait a minute, this isn’t an emotion that’s taking over,’” she said. Later, the children begin colouring flowers printed on the back of small canvas bags. The bags will be transformed into comfort kits that will include things like scented oils, lip balm, candies, bubbles and stress balls that can calm them or bring them back to reality if they’re feeling intense emotions. While there are plenty of arts- and play-based activities, the larger goal is to offer counselling. DIVERSEcity is unique among...

Canada’s Korean community need to be more involved, diplomat says

By Chuck Chiang, Vancouver Sun | South Korea’s top diplomat in B.C. has a message for Korean-Canadians in Western Canada: Get involved in your local community, lest Korean contributions to Canada be overlooked. Gunn Kim, consul general of South Korea in Vancouver since arriving last year, said establishing community ties at the most basic level of Canadian society is critical the future Canada’s relationship with Korea, culturally and economically. To that end, Kim said South Korea’s diplomatic mission in Vancouver will embark on a year-long effort to get Korean-Canadians involved in activities like community volunteering and participation in civic discussions. “I’ve met many leaders in Canada, and what I’ve found is that they have very high expectations for the Korean community to play a role” in mainstream society, Kim said. “The Korean community is doing a lot, even if it is not well-known, but we need to be doing so in a more earnest and active way.” Part of the issue is the splintering of Korean-Canadian groups, usually along religious or generational lines. One example has been the Korean Society of B.C., where a series of lawsuits between groups contending for leadership has received attention from the English-language media. Many in the community has also lamented the fact that despite a significant Metro-Vancouver population of as much as 70,000, Korean-Canadians have largely remained in the background in political representation. The first MLA of Korean descent — Burnaby-Lougheed MLA Jane Shin of the NDP — was only elected in 2013 and is one of only two Korean-Canadians serving as elected provincial legislators in Canada. Shin is not seeking re-election in the May 9 election. Kim said his...