Recent News

Canada 150: Shushma Datt pioneered ethnic broadcasting in B.C

By Vancouver Sun | To mark Canada’s 150th birthday, we are counting down to Canada Day with profiles of 150 noteworthy British Columbians. Shushma Datt once chatted up a young Mick Jagger and George Harrison for the BBC. Now she’s the highly respected matriarch of an ethnic broadcast enterprise in one of the most ruthlessly competitive radio markets anywhere. Born in 1946 into a large family in Kenya, she was the daughter of an accountant. She earned a degree from the University of New Delhi. She has worked as a reporter for the prestigious Times of India, ranked among the world’s top 10 newspapers. In 1965, she emigrated to London with her parents and five siblings. Both she and her father got jobs at the BBC but, she later wrote, her dad thought she was a secretary. Instead, at 19, she was learning the ropes of radio broadcasting at the place that invented quality radio. It was a big jump from the 10-year-old in Nairobi whose interest in the medium was tweaked when she appeared in a local radio play. She had one line, which to her mortification she flubbed, but which, to her amazement had been perfectly repaired in studio when the show went to air. The happy beneficiary of a traditional arranged marriage, there was nothing traditional about her approach when she emigrated to Vancouver in 1972 and found that she might be good enough for the BBC but not for mainstream broadcasters in B.C. So, she started her own station, Rim Jihm, broadcasting on a sub-carrier frequency and producing round-the-clock content for the South Asian audience....

‘Indescribably sad and depressing’: A gallery of letters from Canadian pioneers and immigrants who absolutely hated it here

By National Post | If you were born in Canada, chances are good that your family tree contains at least one person who spent much of their life absolutely hating this place. Despite our treasured national mythos as a promised land of wealth and opportunity, our history is littered with tales of people crying or screaming with anguish after taking their first steps in the True North. A gallery of examples are included below. While many would learn to thrive in the new country, history books usually leave out the part where the mere sight of Canada sparked utter horror in new immigrants. “As we sped across Ontario with its rocks, hills and tunnels, we were afraid we were coming to the end of the world. The heart of many a man sank to his heels and the women and children raised such lamentations as defies description.” Ukrainian immigrant Maria Adamowska, describing her train journey west in 1899. “I became anxious when I wondered what kind of a person would be here to greet me. He had a good physique like I had seen in his photo, but he was simple-minded. I was so sad — I despaired.” Japanese immigrant Ishikawa Yasu, who came to Victoria in the early 20th century as a “picture bride”; a woman paired with a husband in Canada purely through photographs. — Excerpted from Good Wives and Wise Mothers: Japanese Picture Brides in Early Twentieth Century British Columbia. Read...

B.C.’s working poor: Meet the people whose jobs don’t pay the bills

By Vancouver Sun | More than half a million people in B.C. live in poverty, nearly a quarter of them children whose families struggle every day to provide the basics of life: nutritious food, warm clothing and safe shelter. The solution to improving the lives of these families is not as simple as: “Get a job.” That’s because a significant number of impoverished British Columbians are already working. They are the working poor — people who report to their bosses each day, pay taxes, and yet don’t have enough income to cover all their bills. A family of four is impoverished, according to Statistics Canada, if it has an annual after-tax income of $41,866 or less, including all money from government programs such as the federal child benefit payment. B.C. has the highest rate of working poor in the country, who have a median income of just $15,000. Of Canada’s largest cities, Vancouver was second-worst with more than 100,000 low-income earners, or nearly one in 10 of the working-age population. “Right behind (Toronto) stands Vancouver — Canada’s second richest city. In both cities, working poverty is growing faster than anywhere else in the country,” says a recent report by the Ontario-based Metcalf Foundation. Once you remove children, post-secondary students, and young people still living with their parents from B.C.’s list of 600,000 poor, you are left with more than 450,000 working-age adults — and 40 per cent of them have jobs. Jean-Pierre Kigonga makes $17 an hour working the night shift at a manual labour job. He and his wife, Sandrine Ekoko, are raising their two young girls in...

The view from the migration sector bubble

By Vancouver Sun | I just spent a few days with Canadians who work with immigrants, refugees, international students and other migrants. The almost 1,000 people at the 2017 Metropolis Conference in Montreal are on the front lines of an effort central to a country with arguably the world’s highest per capita in-migration. Each year, Canada spends roughly $1.2 billion on the so-called “settlement sector.” Its mission is to assist more than 300,000 new immigrants and refugees a year while supporting 325,000 foreign students and more than 300,000 temporary foreign workers. Migration is a mass phenomenon in Canada, unlike in most nations. Many settlement workers live in the cities that draw most migrants: Foreign-born people make up 23 per cent of Montreal’s population, 45 per cent of Metro Vancouver’s and half of Greater Toronto. Workers in the settlement-sector form an influential Canadian subculture. One person at Metropolis affectionately referred to them as “activists with pensions.” Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen spoke twice and told them they greatly influence public policy. I began wondering, however, how much these upstanding people represent the Canadian population. Do their values correspond at all to opinion poll results or with the issues Canadians follow through the media? The vast majority at the taxpayer-funded Metropolis conferences live on government paycheques or grants. They are in the Immigration Department, the Heritage Department, public research universities and taxpayer-financed non-profit organizations. Their theme is humanitarianism. Metropolis participants repeatedly said Canada should bring in more immigrants, refugees and foreign students, migrants are a “vulnerable population” and taxpayers should spend more on them. Read...

Diverse tech: innovative immigrants are showing the way

By Canadian Immigrant Magazine | As the U.S. tech sector blasts the recent travel bans because of the important role immigrants play in the industry, Canada is surging forward in innovation with help from a diverse bunch who are founding companies, launching apps, furthering tech education and moving the economy forward. “Canadian tech companies understand the power of inclusion and diversity of thought, and that talent and skill know no borders. In choosing to hire, train and mentor the best people in the world, we can build global companies that grow our economy. By embracing diversity, we can drive innovation to benefit the world …” In response to the U.S. travel ban, this excerpt from a recent open letter signed by more than 150 technology companies in Canada — including Shopify, Google Canada, Hootsuite, Kickstarter and BlackBerry among others — proudly mirrors Canada’s policies toward immigrants and refugees — that our strength lies in our diversity. “In order to succeed in North America, you must collaborate with talented individuals on great ideas, regardless of their religious beliefs or where they were born. And, as Canadians, our commitment to fostering an open and inclusive society has been our strength,” says Jordanian-born Abdullah Snobar, executive director of the DMZ, the tech incubator at Ryerson University in Toronto. “We see and experience this every day with our diverse community at DMZ and in the Canadian tech sector. And as a result, we’ve become a more innovative country. And, no matter where you stand on this argument, it’s a fact that diversity is at the core of economic growth,” he adds, noting that...