On September 24, we organized a round table on immigration with stakeholders in the riding of Hull-Aylmer. Our round table had the privilege of having as guests organizations, businesses, and new Canadians familiar with our immigration system.
We asked several questions about immigration, community mobilization activities that are already underway, lessons learned from community-based approaches to local challenges, newcomers’ interaction with communities, community mobilization efforts and ultimately the best way to improve communication. Many topics re-emerged during the round table discussion, such as language requirements difficulties, access to career plans and improved modes of communication.
Regarding community activities already underway, it was noted that there are communities’ activities, such as open houses and language partnering programs, but there is a lack of information available to newcomers. Immigrant families in Hull-Aylmer need to have access to a list of community organizations.
One of the biggest local challenges is employment and recognition of immigrant skills upon arrival in Canada. There exists a vicious circle that forces immigrants into debt as soon as they arrive in Canada by returning to school to find a job. Many participants found this paradoxical because people who want to immigrate to Canada are asked to have a certain level of education, but provincial and professional bodies refuses recognize these skills upon their arrival.
It was also mentioned that one of the government’s priorities is to improve communication with Canada-based immigrants, as they are one of the key information resources for those wishing to immigrate to Canada.
Finally, many points were raised about the best way to create interaction between native-born Canadians and immigrants. It seems that some Canadians are apprehensive in regards to immigrants and immigrants feel stigmatized because of this. It is important to study the contribution of immigrants to Canada because the media speaks only of employability and lack of resources for immigrants in Canada.
The study must demonstrate the importance of immigrants to the Canadian economy and also address the ignorance that immigrants face.
In all, this round table has shown that there is still much to be done on the immigration side and we will continue to listen to the community of Hull-Aylmer.