Quebec City Muslims want a separate cemetery but are meeting resistance

By Alan Freeman, Washington Post | When a gunman killed six members of a Quebec City mosque in January, five of the victims, all of them immigrants to Canada, were sent to their countries of origin for burial. Only one was buried in Canada, at a Muslim-run cemetery near Montreal, three hours away. That’s because Quebec City’s growing Muslim community doesn’t have its own cemetery despite years of trying. After a divisive referendum on Sunday, it still doesn’t. Residents of St-Apollinaire, a town of 6,000 about 20 miles southwest of Quebec City, voted to turn down an application for a zoning change to allow the Islamic Cultural Center, owner of the mosque where the deadly shooting occurred, to open a cemetery. The vote was open to only 49 residents living adjacent to the proposed cemetery site; 36 turned up. Sixteen voted for the cemetery, while 19 voted against. One ballot was spoiled. Despite the small numbers involved, however, the decision was front-page news in Canada — a sign that some say shows that xenophobia is alive and well in a country known as a welcoming place for immigrants and a haven for tolerance. “Thousands of Muslims in Quebec City have been told we don’t want you,” said Mohamed Kesri, secretary of the Islamic Cultural Center, adding that his community would consider its alternatives, including a complaint to the provincial human rights commission. “Ignorance and misunderstanding have won the day,” added Mohamed Labidi, president of the center. Bernard Ouellet, mayor of St-Apollinaire, backed the cemetery proposal. He blamed its rejection on fear and misinformation. Also speaking in favor of the...

Sweden is the Best Country to be an Immigrant, followed by No. 2 Canada and No. 3 Switzerland

By US News | Sweden is the Best Country to be an Immigrant, according to new analysis from U.S. News & World Report. Canada, Switzerland, Australia and Germany round out the top five. Part of the Best Countries report, the new ranking assesses the international perceptions of 80 countries, their immigration policies and economic data. “The 2017 Best Countries rankings revealed that more than 40 percent of respondents view immigration as the most important issue for our world to solve,” said Eric Gertler, co-chairman of U.S. News and the New York Daily News, who was recently honored by the Carnegie Corporation of New York as a 2017 Great Immigrant. “With the recent spotlight on immigration in the U.S. and abroad, we wanted to dive into its potential benefits and challenges on a country’s perceived economic status in the world.” Key findings follow: Nordic nations – Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark – take four of the top 10 spots due in large part to favorable global perceptions of their economies and commitment to income equality. Four of the top five countries – Canada, Switzerland, Australia and Germany – are viewed as having the most stable economies and provide a number of integration measures for immigrants such as language training and transfer of job certification. While the U.S. hosts the most migrants in the world and serves as the source of the largest remittances, the country ranks at No. 7 due in part to a lower score for income equality. The U.K. ranks at No. 17 despite its strong economy. The nation is one of six countries ranked – along with...

Express Entry Helping to Address Canada’s Need for IT Workers

By Canada Immigration Newsletter | According to a report published last year by the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC), Canada needs 182,000 new workers in the Information Technology (IT) sector by 2019. Fortunately for Canadian employers and international workers alike, over the past year Canada’s Express Entry immigration system has helped to address this labour shortage. Critically, provinces across Canada have recognized their need for skilled IT personnel and have used their ‘enhanced’ Express Entry-aligned Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) streams to select IT workers specifically. These provincial efforts are in addition to the federal government’s objective of inviting more Express Entry candidates based on their strong human capital factors. As a result, the number of candidates with IT work experience being invited to apply has increased over time. In addition, the federal government recently launched a new initiative aimed at IT workers and employers known as the Global Talent Stream. This initiative aims to help innovative companies grow by ensuring they can access the highly skilled talent they need quickly. Workers who arrive in Canada under the Global Talent Stream may build up Canadian work experience — a highly-valued factor under Express Entry — and subsequently immigrate to Canada permanently. This IT immigration report looks at how IT workers have benefited from immigration trends over the past 12 months. About Express Entry and provincial nomination Individuals eligible to immigrate to Canada through a federal economic program can submit a profile into the Express Entry pool, where they are ranked against each other according to a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). The government of Canada issues Invitations to Apply (ITAs)...

Finally, a way to halt Canada’s ‘brain drain’

By Kira Vermond, Globe and Mail | What a difference a year makes. When David Duvenaud took a job as an assistant professor in computer science and statistics at the University of Toronto in 2016, the word “post-truth” was yet to be found in the Oxford English Dictionary, Donald Trump’s presidency was still a punchline and Brexit sounded like an overpriced breakfast cereal. Dr. Duvenaud, a native of Winnipeg, had just been lured away from Harvard University, where he was a postdoctoral fellow researching machine learning and neural networks. The job back in Canada was too good to pass up, however, and he soon joined Toronto’s Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence, aimed at turning the city into a hub of AI innovation. Now Vector is aiming to hire the best and brightest of AI research, and Canada has something going for it that big-draw locations like Boston, New York and Silicon Valley do not: no Trump. “We were certainly hoping to benefit from a Trump bump in our hiring,” says Mr. Duvenaud. “We’re competing with some of the top U.S. institutions. We were hoping that being in Canada would be a tie-breaker.” As a small player on a global stage, Canada has long been concerned with “brain drain.” For years, highly educated and talented Canadians have moved elsewhere in the world, primarily the United States, to work and live. But with political uncertainty Stateside and abroad, the tide may be turning. Expat academics, doctors and IT workers are considering coming home, and talented professionals on the other side of the planet are looking at the tippy-top of North America...

Halifax becoming boom town as it welcomes population, economic growth

By Brett Bundale, Toronto Star | Halifax is booming, its skyline awash with construction cranes, and Ontario native Jesse Rodgers can tell you why. Rodgers, a veteran of Waterloo’s tech startup scene, moved to the Nova Scotia capital a year ago with his wife and four kids. They bought a big house on a quiet, tree-lined street a stone’s throw from the ocean. The family bought a boat. They eat supper together almost every night. The kids joined sports teams, and Rodgers coaches hockey in the winter, baseball in the summer. They are part of a convergence of factors — thriving manufacturing and construction sectors, healthy employment and income gains, strong housing and retail markets, off-the-charts population gains — that have made Halifax one of the country’s fastest-growing cities, and earned it the title of Canada’s fifth-biggest tech hub. In a region that is largely consumed by a narrative of decline, Halifax stands out, and not just because of its fast-changing skyline. “The startup community in Halifax feels like Waterloo 15 years ago and it’s going to grow,” said Rodgers, who helms the city’s startup entrepreneur hub Volta Labs. “The timing is now for Halifax.” Halifax has long been lauded for its short commutes, affordable homes, clean air and nearby beaches. It’s home to multiple universities and colleges, military bases, startups and a convenient time zone and geography. But the city’s charm may come from what it doesn’t have: Million-dollar teardowns, gruelling commutes to increasingly expensive, far-flung bedroom communities, summertime smog warnings, crush-loaded transit. Halifax resonates as an anti-Toronto — many big city charms but few big-city headaches. The...

Immigrant author Dirk McLean releases new children’s book

By Kaitlin Jingco, Canadian Immigrant Magazine | Following the release of refugee soccer story Team Fugee last May, Toronto-based author Dirk McLean will be releasing a sequel, Tournament Fugee, later this summer. Readers can follow 13-year-old Syrian refugee Victor Bayazid, whom they met in Team Fugee, as he embarks on new personal and athletic adventures. “Over the years, I have known refugees who came here from all different countries,” says Trinidad and Tobago-born author McLean on what inspired him to write his books. “I was not fleeing a situation,” he says of his own immigration experience, but he says that his interactions with refugees have helped him in his writing. Tournament Fugee book In the upcoming book, Victor travels with his soccer team, the GTA Gazelles, to Vancouver to participate in Thank You Canada, a soccer tournament featuring teams of Syrian refugees. The experience is meant to be a fun one, but on his journey the young goaltender is plagued with the guilt of leaving his family, the drama of teammate issues and the memories of his homeland and the loved ones left behind. Tournament Fugee is part of James Lorimer and Company’s Refugee Soccer set, which includes David Starr’s Golden Goal and Golden Game (set to come out on the same day as Tournament Fugee). Interestingly, despite the different authors, the books feature interconnected characters and the shared goal of shedding light on the refugee experience. From reading these books, McLean hopes to give “children an understanding of refugee immigrants who share a lot of the same human complexities as natural-born Canadians.” McLean’s Tournament Fugee and Starr’s Golden...