Kenyan-Somali, black, Muslim and Canadian: new doc explores Canada’s hyphenated identities

By Amara McLaughim, CBC News | A new documentary by a 22-year-old Toronto filmmaker is analyzing what is means to be an immigrant in Canada. Directed and produced by Samah Ali, Hyphen-Nation features a 14-minute conversation between five women of colour that is inspired by her own cultural experience. The women discuss how their cultural heritage influences their identities as Canadians and immigrants. “The whole conversation is what’s your hyphen?” explained Ali, calling her debut film a “nuanced” discussion about what black Canadian identities look like. “And that’s what opens it up to so many people to identify with because whether it’s themselves or their family members who have an immigration story, everybody typically has a hyphen.” The women are asked if they identify with being black Canadians. Ali explains this is both liberating and tragic. She identifies as a Kenyan-Somali woman, along with a Muslim woman and a black woman. “I don’t know if I identify strongly as a Canadian, but definitely when I leave Canada I identify as a Canadian,” she said despite being born and raised in Toronto. “The other parts of my identity, the ones that are more visible, the ones that I practice everyday are definitely the ones that are on the forefront of my mind. Compared to my Canadianness, it’s something that I’m not really aware of until I have my passport and I’m travelling to other countries.” Sojin Chun, programmer for Regent Park Film Festival, says the short documentary captures the theme of the festival. “We really want to show different narratives that you wouldn’t normally see through other means, through the...

Immigrants can ‘click, connect’ for info

By Gisele Winton Sarvis, Orilliapacket | New immigrants moving anywhere into Simcoe County will now only have to visit their local library to access information on how to settle into Canadian society. The Click, Connect Immigrant Assistance Program is rolling out to 16 library branches across Simcoe County in January. The new residents will go to a computer station, sign in and be connected to a worker with the Welcome Centre Immigrant Services based in Newmarket, who they can see via computer camera, and who can answer questions on a variety of topics including the citizenship process, housing and language resources. The Stayner branch of the Clearview Public Library is the pilot site for the new service. At Monday’s launch, local politicians, librarians and immigrant service workers gathered for the presentation. County Warden Gerry Marshall supports the program. “I think it’s great. If you think about the County of Simcoe, 13% of our population or about 62,000 people are new immigrants. Our population is scheduled to double by 2041, so most of that growth will be new immigrants coming into the County of Simcoe.” The county has 93 communities, Marshall said. “To get this service into our local libraries makes it more local for everyone.” Social Enterprise for Canada is the company that developed the Welcome Centre mobile immigrant services unit and the new program. “Right now, we are rolling it out to 16 libraries in Simcoe County. We picked one branch out of each of the municipalities,” said Darlene Brown, vice-president of Social Enterprise for Canada. “When we wanted to do a public demonstration, we were looking for...

Women share their migrating experiences with the help of shoes

By Kaitlin Jingco, Canadian Immigrant Magazine | Twelve women took to the stage at Toronto’s Arts and Letters Club on November 7 and 9 to share their experiences of migrating to Canada. In addition to immigration, the stories had one other shared theme: footwear. “Shoes accompany us on all our journeys. They say who we are, where we came from and where we are going,” says the website of The Shoe Project (TSP), the organization responsible for putting on the events. This year’s show, entitled “Where is Peace,” marked the fifth year of TSP productions. It featured women from Iraq, China, Mexico, Kyrgyzstan, Iran, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Uruguay, and South Sudan, who shared their memories of love, war, betrayal, and hope. Within these stories, flippers, ice cleats and other unique forms of footwear were incorporated. In preparation for their performances, the 12 women worked with experienced Canadian writers and theatre professionals in workshop settings. Here they improved their spoken and written English, built bonds with immigrant and Canadian-born women, and ultimately, grown personally as new Canadians. “Writing their shoe memoirs gives members a voice and helps them be heard in the Canadian mainstream,” says the website for TSP, describing the experience of the more than 100 women who’ve participated in the program. “I have never imagined I could be standing in front of an audience sharing a personal story in English,” says Natalia, a participant from Uruguay. “The Shoe Project has been the most empowering experience in my life.” Read...

Forbes 30 Under 30: Meet The Young Asian Immigrants Making Waves In America

By Rana Wehbe, Forbes | If the Forbes 30 Under 30 list proves anything — it is that ambition, achievement and success know no age, gender or nationality. It comes as no surprise then that 19% of those who made the U.S. list this year were immigrants who were born outside the country and come from as many as 50 countries. And out of that 19 %, more than half were born in Asia. 36 Chinese and 19 Indians feature on the prestigious list which aims to highlight 600 of America’s young entrepreneurs and disruptors across 20 industries. Their fields are as diverse as their backgrounds — ranging from science and healthcare to tech, venture capital and even Hollywood and entertainment. Take for instance Peter Yang, the 29-year-old cofounder of Pokéworks, whose family emigrated from China and settled in San Diego when he was 6-years-old and whose first job was a drive-through attendant at a burger joint. Today, the University of California graduate’s business, which serves poké bowls and sushi burritos, hopes to make $15 million in revenue this year from 13 locations across America and Canada with an ambition to reach 100 stores by 2020. Another immigrant making waves is India-born Rupi Kaur, the 25-year-old author and poet whose worldwide Instagram fame rivals that of celebrities due to her sharable ‘millennial-friendly’ poetry suited for the digital age. Kaur’s first book, Milk and Honey, has sold over 2.5 million copies in 25 languages and spent 77 weeks on the New York Times Best-Seller List while her latest book Sun and Her Flowers, which explores her Punjabi-Canadian heritage, reached the...

Toronto child poverty divided along racial lines

By Laurie Monsebraaten, Toronto Star | Toronto remains the child poverty capital of Canada with more than one in four kids living in low-income families, says a new report based on the 2016 census. But even more troubling is the racial divide among the region’s poor children, according to the report being released Wednesday by a coalition of social agencies serving vulnerable families. Children from racialized families — or families of people of colour — are more than twice as likely to be living in poverty as those from non-racialized families, or 23.3 per cent compared to 11.4 per cent, says the report. And about 84 per cent of Toronto’s Indigenous families with children are living in poverty. When it comes to newcomer families — many of whom are also racialized — almost half of Toronto region children whose parents arrived in Canada within the past five years live in poverty. That is almost three times the rate of poverty experienced by children in non-immigrant families, according to the report titled “Unequal City: The Hidden Divide Among Toronto Children and Youth.” The report is particularly worrying in light of recently released census data that shows more than half of city residents identify as members of visible minority communities. “In a city whose motto is ‘Diversity Our Strength,’ we must ask ourselves whether we are supporting this diversity if we are allowing children who are racialized, Indigenous, and newcomers to live with rates of poverty that are several times higher than other children experience,” the report says. Children are considered to be living in poverty if their family income is...

My Journey to Self- Employment: Immigrants’ Stories of Success and Resilience

Tri-Cities Local Immigration Partnership Community Forum Thinking of starting your own small business? Listen to local business owners who have established their own small businesses in the Tri-Cities. Join our panel of professionals and get their advice on key considerations as you set up your business. Guest Speakers include: Fred Soofi, Pasta Polo Nina Kaur, Ethical Financial Ray Tseng, Business Coach Trish Mandewo, GymBus Entertainment Ask questions from our panel of experts during the Q &A session. Our guest speakers will join our panel of experts which will include: Bill Lau, CPA, CA, KPMG Sam Lupton, BA, LLB, BTM Lawyers LLP Douglas College Self Employment Program Moderator: Michael Hind, Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce Light Refreshments will be served. This event is free, but registration is required. Register at myimmbusinessjourney.eventbrite.com   For more information, contact...