Page 1



WINTER 2013 | VOL. 2 | NO. 2

THE VALUE OF ONE How much economic benefit do immigrants bring with them to Canada? Or, are they a strain on the tax purse?

SUPER VISA: Canada plans to admit 25,000 parents and grandparents for the second year in a row in 2013

Continuing EduCation & onlinE lEarning Fleming offers a variety of courses where newcomers can meet new friends, practice their spoken English, expand their knowledge and get certified. Fleming’s certificates are reviewed and updated regularly to stay at the forefront of best practices and industry information. Many of these certificates can be taken online or in a combination of online and in-class studies. Fleming’s Continuing Education courses will give you a competitive edge, and lead you on a pathway to greater knowledge and skills. ChoosE from diffErEnt subjECt arEas, inCluding: • Arts, Photography and Music • Business and Leadership • Computers • Hospitality and Conference Services • Health and Wellness • Human and Community Services • Languages, Writing and Communications • Outdoor Skills and Sustainable Living • Security, Law and Emergency Services • Spa and Wellness • Trades and Transportation

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24 PROFILE Carl and Ruth Hudson

14 COVER STORY Nieva Tumbiga is quite a recent immigrant. Is she a boon or a bane to Canada’s fiscal state?


Does immigration still have a positive impact on the overall economic well-being of Canada? The debate rages, with one study arguing that, unlike the past wave of immigrants, the more recent ones are not faring quite well economically.


8 Trades centre

Construction of Fleming College’s Kawartha Trades and Technology Centre is on a high gear. The centre comes timely in the wake of a severe shortage of skilled trades talent within Canada.


9 New warden

Northumberland County has a new warden for 2013. County Councillor Hector Macmillan, also the mayor of Trent Hills, has been acclaimed as county warden, replacing County Councillor Gil Brocanier, who is also the mayor of Cobourg.


10 International face

International students are changing the face of downtown Oshawa. Oshawa is home to Trent University, Durham College and UOIT – all of whose international-student enrolment has been on the upswing. 4


27 CLICK Community workshop



16 Soft skills

Carmela Valles Immigration Consulting

Have you ever wondered why, despite your high level of technical expertise, the protracted hunt for your dream job has not gotten you past the interview stage? Your problem may be your skills.

21 Tax corner

Know what child benefits the federal and provincial governments provide to support families with children.

EDUCATION 20 Student diversity

When is more better? The Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board rolls out the welcome mat for newcomer families, saying, “The greater diversity in our classrooms, the more enriched they become.”

TRAVEL 28 45 days in China

Two Peterborough residents, aided by a young Chinese immigrant, have gone on a 45-day tour of China. See what they discover as they explore the “real China.”


City of Peterborough


Fleming College


Herod Financial Services Informed Financial Growth

12 8

Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board 11 Manulife Securities


McConkey Real Estate Corp.


Mortgage Alliance


New Canadians Centre

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Northern Property Maintenance


Northumberland County


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Royal Bank of Canada


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11 Back Cover

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ne of the first editorial assignments thrown at me as a 22-year-old cub reporter was to examine the buying strength of the peso, the Philippine currency, over a 15-year period. Instead of using a fixed basket of goods to track the value of the peso, my editor and I used a very simplistic approach: how much does a candy, called White Rabbit, a huge favourite among Filipino children and ever-present at makeshift vending stalls near every public school campus, cost today compared with 15 years ago? In one particular year, the peso buys four White Rabbits; in another, three; and in yet another year, two. Clearly, the value of the peso shrank over time. I was reminded of that little project many years ago as I dug into a myriad of studies showing that the economic outcomes of recent immigrants have continually hit the skids and that recent immigrants lagged behind their Canadian-born counterparts in the economic arena. Our six-page cover story, starting on Page 14, shows how, in 1980, a recent male immigrant (in Canada for five years or less) made only 85 cents for every dollar earned by a Canadianborn. Over the next two decades, the earnings disparities have widened. The ratio dropped to 67 cents to the dollar in 2000 and further down to 63 cents in 2005. Women immigrants fared worse. A Fraser Institute study, focusing on immigrants who arrived between 1987 and 2004, concludes that Canada’s screening criteria for immigrants need changing, or the fiscal haemorrhage of 6


as much as $6,051 per immigrant annually continues. Why? Since immigrants make less money, the study argues, they, in turn, pay less in taxes while using more in government services. The study quickly elicited criticism as flawed and presenting an incomplete picture. Economists from Simon Fraser University, focusing on immigrants who arrived between 1970 and 2004, also issued a report, showing how the fiscal effect on immigration could not be any higher than $450 per immigrant annually and citing cases of how immigrants suffered from different shades of discrimination in the labour market. Economists Mohsen Javdani and Krishna Pendakur argued that the fiscal burden results from under-utilizing immigrants, many of whom work jobs that are far below their qualifications. If immigrants earned, they said, to the extent that their credentials should allow them, their annual earnings would increase by $15 billion. VALUE If all of a person’s value is summed up by the size of that person’s paycheck, then it does appear that an immigrant’s value to the Canadian economy is precipitously eroding. Not so, according to marketing experts who see the immigrant community as a multibilliondollar niche market that could power Canada’s economic engine forward. One lawyer says: “it’s impossible to attach a price tag on the benefits of welcoming newcomers.” Our editorial package for the cover story also includes a column by Caroline Yang, a human-resources expert, on Page 16. Ms. Yang explains how newcomers sometimes missed out on job opportunities because they failed to work on their soft skills. n



Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this publication. However, Mediaplus Village regrets that it cannot accept liability for error or omissions contained in this publication, however caused. The opinions and views contained in this publication are not necessarily those of the publisher. Readers are advised to seek specialist advice before acting on information contained in this publicatio n, which is provided for general use and may not be appropriate for the reader’s particular circumstances. The concept, content, style and design of this publication remain the exclusive property of Mediaplus Village. No part of this publication or any part of the contents thereof may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form without the permission of the publisher in writing. An exemption is hereby granted for extracts used for the purpose of fair review.

LETTERS We welcome your comments. Write to us at All submissions must include name, address and phone number. Letters may be edited for length, clarity and style. Submission constitutes permission to use.


Tribute to immigrants Thank you for featuring stories of integration in your Fall 2012 issue. I thought it was great that stories were told to highlight one’s journey towards making Canada home. The decision to make Canada – or any country, for that matter – a new home is a process, and sometimes a very painful one. I was born and raised in Canada, but my grandparents weren’t. They came to Canada, seeking a better life. I think each one of us – regardless of our ethnic origin, skin colour, religion or where we

come from – deserves to have a shot at life. All of us have a right to seek to better our lives regardless of where that aspiration would take us. I am proud as a Canadian because Canada allows people from all beliefs and stations in life to find their place in the world here. I truly appreciate the thousands of immigrants who have come to Canada, braved the odds and triumphed. Without their sacrifice, Canada would not be where it is today. Elizabeth Robinson Pickering


SUMMER 2012 | VOL. 1 | NO. 4

CROSSING BORDERS A look at Peterborough’s impact abroad through the work of some of its grassroots organizations

I picked up a copy of Newcomer Bulletin at Union

gration information. Please accept my $10 to purchase a one-year subscription of Newcomer Bulletin.

Emily Lam Oshawa

Senior care

Expansion Congratulations on your expansion to Durham and Northumberland County. I hope you will continue to provide your readers with local stories and relevant immi-

Sophie Coldeen Peterborough

I am proud of what I do as a personal support worker in Canada, looking after and caring for its senior citizens. I consider my work as important and do it with pride. Juliet Mapa Toronto

News summaries The section where you summarize immigration news is very helpful for me. With the Newcomer Bulletin magazine, I am able to keep myself updated with changes on immigration (such as the new

Proud of Peterborough newcomer

Super Visa). I now rely on your magazine – I visit your online edition every day – as my source of immigration news. Congratulations and keep up the good work. You are doing a great work.

Station in Toronto. I am so pleased with how Peterborough has touched so many lives in other parts of the world through its grassroots organizations. They are definitely changing people’s lives. I enjoyed reading your cover story, “Crossing Borders” (Newcomer Bulletin, summer 2012 issue). Peterborough is close to my heart; I used to live there.

For faster family reunification, Citizenship and Immigration Canada has introduced Super Visas for parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens or permanent residents in Canada. Super Visa applicants must have Canadian medical coverage for at least one year and a minimum of $100,000 in coverage. Ask me about travel insurance for Super Visa applicants and get a free quote.

Eileen Madder, CFP, EPC Financial Advisor 175 George Street North Peterborough, ON (705) 874-9355




Fleming College


Construction of Fleming’s KTTC project in full swing


onstruction of the Kawartha Trades and Technology Centre (KTTC) at Fleming College’s Sutherland Campus has begun. The KTTC will be an 87,000-square-foot facility used to teach and train students from Fleming College, regional secondary schools and regional industry.

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“We are excited to start construction on the Kawartha Trades and Technology Centre, a facility that will provide a much-needed space for trades and technology training,” said Fleming College President Dr. Tony Tilly. “The KTTC will be a regional hub for trades and technology education, and we are thrilled to create this vital resource for skilled trades students in Peterborough and the Kawarthas.” The $36.6 million facility will feature sustainable shop facilities, smart-wired

classrooms and labs with the newest technology. The facility will provide new space and equipment for training in areas such as carpentry, masonry, welding, plumbing, electrical and engineering programs. Completion of the KTTC is scheduled for April 2014; it will be in full operation in September 2014. Amid a serious skilledlabour shortage, Citizenship and Immigration Canada has announced a new program intended to speed the arrival to Canada of foreign trades people whose skills are in demand.

The Federal Skilled Trades Stream, which was kicked off on January 2, 2013, would process a maximum of 3,000 applications from foreign workers in its first year. n RELATED: New immigration stream, Page 11


12,450 25-44 The number of immigrants livAge range of the majority of ing in Peterborough (city and county)

3,210 The number of visible minor-

ities living in Peterborough (city and county)

immigrants (38.7%) in Peterborough at the time of immigration

$24.14 Per-capita spending on culture

in 2010, up from $9.68 in 2002

Source: Peterborough Social Planning Council Quality of Life Report 2012




Northumberland has new warden


orthumberland County has announced that County Councillor Hector Macmillan has been acclaimed as county warden for 2013. County Councillor Gil Brocanier, who is also the mayor of Cobourg, served as warden during 2012. The warden’s position is a one-year appointment; Mr. Macmillan previously served as warden in 2007. Mr. Macmillan is also the mayor of Trent Hills. He has been actively involved with a number of the county’s departments;

most recently, he served as a department coordinator for the county’s Hector Macmillan transportation and EMS divisions. “I appreciate the support of my colleagues on the county council and look forward to serving as Northumberland’s warden in 2013,” he said. n

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Meeting set for newly formed foreign-trained scribes group


oreign-trained journalists and writers in Durham, Peterborough and Northumberland have organized themselves to create a support group for newcomers. They will Don Sellar meet for the first time on January 30, 2013 at the boardroom of the Nothumberland County’s Economic Development and Tourism office on 600 William St. in Cobourg. Don Sellar, a retired journalist and ombudsman of a Toronto-based newspaper, has volunteered with the group to share with newcomers his journalism experience. Mr. Sellar has also taught ethics

in journalism to newcomers for a number of years. While the group is spearheaded by foreign-trained professionals, Canadianborn journalists and writers in Durham, Peterborough and Northumberland are also welcome to participate and attend the group’s first meeting. The group is aiming to foster a dialogue between newcomers and practicing writers and journalists in Ontario. n


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Downtown Oshawa has a new international face


f you haven’t visited downtown Oshawa recently, you might be surprised to see five new campus centres, some of which are nested in renovated heritage buildings like the old Regent Theatre. Oshawa is attracting a diverse international-student population. Over the past five years, the number of international students at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) has consistently grown. During Fall 2012, UOIT had 478 international students, up 98.34% from Fall 2008. UOIT’s international students come from 52 countries, according to UOIT’s office of the registrar. The top source countries for UOIT’s international undergraduate students are Saudi Arabia, China and Hong Kong, Nigeria, India, Pakistan, Bermuda and Botswana. UOIT has unveiled massive plans for growth in Oshawa’s downtown, with 5,600 students expected by 2015 and up to 10,000 by 2030. At nearby Durham College, international-student enrolment is also up by more than 85%, with 141 new international students.

ENTRIES OF FOREIGN STUDENTS TO OSHAWA 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 0



240 207 179 178 164 173 161 132 142 126 150 200 250



Number of people working in Downtown Oshawa 300

Source: Citizenship and Immigration Canada

More than 8,700 full-time students are attending Durham College’s Oshawa and Whitby campuses and Pickering Learning site. That includes 5,200 new students, Sally Grande for an overall increase of 12% in enrolment. Oshawa is also home to Trent University, which opened a modern $12.9 million facility on Thornton Road in September 2010, delivering programs to approximately 750 full-time students. Students are busy exploring Oshawa’s downtown and have found a cozy hideaway

for their study groups: the public library. The library? What can a library offer that’s not on the Internet? “Well, did you know that many of Ontario’s libraries are multilingual?” said Sally Grande, serials and multilingual collections librarian at Oshawa Public Libraries. “Books, films and often newspapers and magazines in many languages are all available for free.” At Oshawa Public Libraries’ McLaughlin Branch, books and films in 33 languages as well as magazines and newspapers in 12 languages are available. So are children’s books in several languages, books for teens and a vast selection of world music. “The McLaughlin Library


Number of students in Oshawa


Number of businesses in Oshawa

$529 million Value of building permits issued downtown in 2007-2010

Source: Oshawa’s Economic Development Services

Branch in downtown Oshawa is strategically positioned for an influx of newcomers because the library sits next to an ESL (English as a Second Language) Centre,” Ms. Grande said. “Working together with the ESL teachers, the library offers inhouse tours, citizenship study materials, ESL conversation circles, film showings and a taste of home with resources and book clubs in languages other than English.” n

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Same immigration levels for 2013


anada plans to maintain immigration levels of between 240,000 to 265,000 new permanent residents in 2013 for the seventh straight year. Another highlight of the 2013 Immigration Levels Plan was the increased room given to the Canadian Experience Class, which facilitates the transition from temporary to permanent residence for those with highskilled work experience in Canada, including international students and temporary foreign workers. Admissions under the CEC have increased from about 2,500 people in 2009 to a planned level of up to 10,000 permanent residents in 2013. n

New skilled trades stream for in-demand occupations The program criteria are built around four requirements that ensure applicants will have the right skills and experience needed to succeed in Canada. In order to qualify, applicants will need to: n

Jason Kenney


itizenship and Immigration Canada has launched a new Federal Skilled Trades Program to address Canada’s growing demand for skilled tradespersons. “The new skilled trades stream will help address serious labour shortages in some regions of the country, and support economic growth,” said Immigration Minister Jason Kenney. “For too long, Canada’s immigration system has not been open to these in-demand skilled workers. These changes are long overdue and will help us move to a fast and flexible immigration system that works for Canada’s economy.”




have an offer of employment in Canada or a certificate of qualification from a province or territory to ensure that applicants are “job ready” upon arrival; meet a basic language requirement; have a minimum of two years of work experience as a skilled tradesperson, to ensure that the applicant has recent and relevant practice as a qualified journeyman; and have the skills and experience that match those set out in the National Occupational Classification system, showing that they have performed the essential duties of the occupation.

Canada will accept up to a maximum of 3,000 applications in the first year of the program. n WINTER 2013 | NEWCOMER BULLETIN



Safe-country list issued


itizenship and Immigration Canada has issued an initial list of countries whose citizens will have their asylum claims expedited for processing because they do not normally produce refugees.

“Designating countries is an important step towards a faster and fairer asylum system,” said Immigration Minister Jason Kenney. “It is remarkable that the European Union – with its democratic tradition of freedom, respect for human rights and an independent judiciary – has been the top source region for asylum claims made in Canada. What’s more, virtually all EU claimants either

Austria Belgium Croatia  Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Estonia Finland France Germany Greece Hungary Ireland Italy

withdraw or abandon their own claims or are rejected by the independent Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada.”

In 2011, of the total number of asylum claims filed by EU nationals around the world, over 80% were filed in Canada, even though EU nationals have mobility rights within the 27 EU member states. The majority of EU claimants do not appear for their Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada hearing as they withdraw or abandon their own claims. Of all EU claims referred to the IRB, an independent tribunal, 91% were rejected in 2011.

CIC acts on study-permit fraud


itizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) is proposing changes to limit study permits to students attending institutions designated by provinces and territories. The proposed changes would address concerns that some institutions are facilitating the entry of foreign nationals to Canada for purposes other than to study. CIC would work with provinces and territories to designate educational institutions that will be permitted to host international students. Non-designated schools may still be able to continue offering programs of six months or less to foreign nationals on regular visitor visas. Eligible international students attending designated institutions would also be able to work part-time off-campus. n




The initial list of designations covers 27 countries,

Latvia Lithuania Luxembourg Malta Netherlands Poland Portugal Slovak Republic Slovenia Spain Sweden United Kingdom USA   Non-EU Member 25 of which are European Union member-states. n

New FSW applications accepted again in May


he new selection system for the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) will take effect on May 4, 2013 at which time the program will re-open for applications. “The government’s number one priority remains jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity,” said Immigration Minister Jason Kenney. “The new Federal Skilled Worker Program criteria will

ensure Canada is selecting the skilled immigrants our economy needs, who are the most likely to succeed and fully realize their potential in Canada.” The improvements to the FSWP points grid are based on a large body of research which has consistently shown that language proficiency and youth are two of the most important factors in the economic success of immigrants. n

PROFILE THELMA DILLON CONTACT SoundsXtreme Entertainment Phone: (905) 373-1128 E-mail: Web: Web:

community is, when she was completing her clinical work at the Northumberland Hills Hospital as part of her school requirement to become a registered practical nurse. Dillon family – Terry; Zachary, 11; Thelma with Mason, 19 months; William, 8; and Dreydan, 6

LITTLE DREAMS NO MORE By DINDIN VILLARINO Thelma Dillon is quite living her childhood dream. As a young rural girl in the Philippines, Thelma Dillon fancied owning a small retail store, the momand-pop-store-type dotting the country's busy corners and providing a living to thousands of Filipino marginal business owners.


he also wanted to be a cultural dancer, focusing on Philippine folk dances. Fast forward to 2013 – Thelma is a cultural dancer and, along with her husband, also a business owner. Little did she know she would become what she had hoped to be in far-away Canada. Thelma came to Canada as a teen-ager in the early 1990s to study. She first settled in Bancroft and Ottawa, where many of her relatives also lived. Beyond family, the places hold a special appeal to her, owing to the presence of a supportive Filipino community. NEW HOME After she became a mother, however, she and her

DANCE GROUP Thelma does keep a busy lifestyle. She makes it a point to get involved at events at the New Canadians Centre and is part of its Women Newcomer Group, which meets each month.

band, Terry, contemplated moving to a new location, and Cobourg, in their evaluation, emerges as potentially an excellent choice: Terry’s family is in Cobourg, and the town is not only conducive for raising a family; its smallcommunity setting also means that word of mouth travels around faster and that drumming up awareness for a start-up business would be fairly easy. Additionally, Cobourg offers amenities normally found in bigger communities while retaining its small-town charm; it is also within close proximity to the Greater Toronto Area. For Thelma, the real clincher was the knowledge that Cobourg is also home to 100 or so other Filipi-

Thelma and Terry were also pleased that extra-curricular activities exist for their children – aged 19 months to 11 years. They had also found a school that offers French immersion, something that they wanted for their four kids.

Within the past one-anda-half years, Thelma has been chiefly responsible in organizing a group of Filipino cultural dancers, who share her love for dancing. The group, called “Dancing for Fun,” has performed in many charity and other public events in Northumberland and Ottawa.

nos. “Immediately, I felt at home,” she said.

Thelma has also obtained certification as a Zumba fitness instructor and leads weekly fitness dance classes at the Columbus Community Centre in Cobourg. Thelma and Terry also own SoundsXtreme Entertainment, a sound-system rental business.

She also discovered how welcoming Cobourg as a

The child in Thelma must be having a lot of fun. n

Thelma Dillon






Filipinos love to party. A Filipino home marks with a lavish celebration every milestone in the family – new baby, weddings, birthdays, graduations. Even death anniversaries. And when they run out of any legitimate reason to party, Filipinos jump at the minutest excuse to come together, have food and be merry – such as when Manny Pacquiao, the eight-division Filipino world boxing legend, goes into a televised fight.


o wonder that Nieva Tumbiga also threw a party when she had bought her first home in Peterborough in mid-2012. Her housewarming party on a rainy day in October 2012 marked a special event that many immigrants like her have, to some degree, set as one of the thresholds for their own success in Canada: buying a property. “There’s a sense of pride in home ownership,” said Clarence Collison, broker of record at Realty Executives Alison Ltd, during a forum organized by Newcomer Bulletin for newcomers in Peterborough. “Home ownership is often referred to as the Canadian dream. Why is it so special? Real estate often is an excellent investment, 14


Nieva Tumbiga

COVER STORY perhaps the number one source of wealth-building for families.”


Beyond owning a home, Ms. Tumbiga has a full-time employment at a multinational company in Peterborough and also keeps a reflexology business on the side.


Although she has a computer-engineering degree in the Philippines, Ms. Tumbiga came to Canada through the Live-in Caregiver Program in May 2004.


The numbers in the Fraser Institute study were quickly debunked as flawed by two Simon Fraser University economists in a research study issued by Metropolis BC Project, an immigration and diversity research network. The economists, who examined the incomes of immigrants who arrived in Canada between 1970 and 2004, acknowledged the fiscal impact of immigration but said the cost could not be any higher than $450 per immigrant annually.

10 5 0

















Sources: Statistics Canada, Censuses of Population, and Catalogue no. 91-541-XIE





75.3 71.9 72.6 73.1


71 71.2 70.8 70.1


2011 88.1 85.1 85.8 85.6

% 90

77.8 75.1 73.1 75.1

The study, which uses 2006 census data, recommends that “to alleviate the fiscal strain on taxpayers, the country’s immigration-selection process should be reformed to emphasize a reliance on market forces to replace the existing, failed system of using points to select immigrants.”


82.4 82.2 82.4 82.6

As a result, the study argues, these immigrants impose a fiscal burden on taxpayers of about $6,000 each, or a total of as much as $23 billion annually for the nearly four million post1986 immigrants to Canada. Among the findings of the study were that these 1987-2004 immigrants earned an average income equal to about 72% of that of Canadian-born, and that they paid an average of $10,340 in taxes compared with $16,501 paid by other Canadians.

% of total population



84.1 82.2 82.4 82.9

FISCAL BALANCE Having arrived in Canada eight years ago, she was part of the wave of immigrants between 1987 and 2004 that, according to a study by Canadian public policy think-thank Fraser Institute, supposedly did not fare quite well economically, paying less in taxes yet receiving more in government services – health care, education and welfare, for example.

Millions of visible minorities

70 65


Europe Latin America




Source: Statistics Canada

Both studies attempted to figure out whether immigrants fully pay for in taxes the public services that they receive.

The earnings gap, they said, between immigrants and Canadian-born exists because many immigrants work jobs that are far below their qualifications.

Economists Mohsen Javdani and Krishna Pendakur said that one solution to ease the fiscal effect of imimigration was “to remove the barriers and disadvantages blocking the advancement of immigrants in the labour market.”

UNDER-UTILIZED Canada admits roughly a quarter of a million immigrants each year, and about 60% of them are highly educated and highly skilled. However, many wound up jobless for a long period of time while others WINTER 2013 | NEWCOMER BULLETIN




2017 1,051



South Asian




ere’s a typical situation many newcomers have encountered. They follow up on an interview and are told that they lack Canadian experience. I asked many Canadians and newcomers what Canadian experience means. The immediate answer is: “having worked in Canada.” However, we all know that Canadian organizations have hired newcomers who have never worked in Canada before; and all new Canadians who are currently working found their first job in Canada sometime somewhere. So “Canadian experience” and “having worked in Canada” are not the same. Then what does Canadian experience mean? Some people say, it means taking initiative, showing enthusiasm, getting along with co-workers. One Canadian jokingly said, “Having survived one Canadian winter.” SOFT SKILLS After many conversations, I realized that the answer lies in soft skills. In the recruitment process, technical skills are assessed at the résumé stage and soft skills at the interview stage. When a candidate’s soft skills don’t match interviewers’ expectations, the interviewers often have a hard time articulating that mismatch. Hence it comes out as “lacking Canadian experience.” Canadian new graduates face simi16



Black Filipino Latin-American Southeast Asian Arab West Asian Korean Japanese

1,820 1,832



542 213 337 204 280 194 423 110 276 92 203 68 86


Sources: Statistics Canada, Catalogue no. 91-541-XIE

struggled to keep their heads above waters by holding on to minimumwage survival jobs. There is an economic cost associated with under-utilizing skilled new immigrants, the Metropolis study said. The Canadian Labour Market and Skills Researcher Network (CLSRN), a network of academic researchers, estimates that marginalizing immigrants costs the Canadian economy between $2 billion and $5.9 billion a year. A September 2012 research by the Royal Bank of Canada released exclusively to Globe and Mail newspaper said that if immigrants’ skills were rewarded in a similar way to that of Canadian-born workers, the increase in their incomes would amount to $30.7 billion. Question: why do immigrants, who are allowed into Canada based on skills and education, struggle in the labour market and not earning to the extent that their credentials should allow them? A host of reasons exist. CLSRN blames professional and trade associations for imposing what amounts to protectionist barriers in their accreditation procedures, which

make it very difficult for skilled immigrants – particularly those coming from Asia and Latin America – to work in their fields. The group notes that “any on-the-job experience that skilled immigrants have obtained in other countries is worth precisely nothing.” The Metropolis study also cites “considerable employer discrimination against applicants with ethnic names or with experience from foreign firms.” A study by the University of British Columbia, based on a field experiment with 6,000 hypothetical résumés sent in response to online postings of jobs in the Greater Toronto Area, finds that job applicants with English-sounding names are 40% more likely to be contacted by employers for interviews than those with Chinese, Indian or Pakistani names. Each of the 6,000 mock résumés listed a bachelor’s degree and four to six years of work experience. They were tailored to job requirements and sent to online job postings from employers across 20 occupational categories, including administrative, financial, marketing, programming and retail.



Percent of total population





Canada Census metropolitan area Toronto Vancover Montréal Ottawa-Gatineau* Calgary Edmonton Hamilton Winnipeg Windsor Kitchener Rest of Canada





1,753 741 454 139 166 136 64 84 40 45 418

3,194 1,261 749 316 295 211 125 115 97 79 679

37 36 13 17 17 14 9 12 13 10 3

51 49 19 28 24 18 15 16 23 15 4

Sources: Statistics Canada, Catalogue no. 91-541-XIE

Up to 16% of job applicants with English names received a callback, compared with 11% for applicants with Pakistani, Indian and Chinese names who had the same level of education and job experience, the study finds. India and China are one of the top source countries of immigrants to Canada. The callback rate dropped to 8% for those with foreign-sounding names who had Canadian experience but obtained their education outside Canada; it dropped to 5% for those who also lacked experience working within Canada. IMPACT Amid an apparent deterioration in the economic outcomes of new immigrants compared with the Canadianborn population, the raging question emerges: what is the impact of immigration on the country’s overall economic well-being? Results from the 2006 census show that earnings disparities between recent immigrants and Canadian-born workers continued to increase into the first decade of the 2000s, according to Citizenship and Immigration Canada. In 1980, recent male

* Ontario part only

grants earned 85 cents for each dollar received by Canadian-born males. By 2000, the ratio had dropped to 67 cents, and by 2005 to 63 cents. The corresponding ratios for recent female immigrants were 85 cents, 65 cents and 56 cents, respectively. Immigrants also had a higher unemployment rate of 6.9%, compared to 6.4% for the Canadian-born; for very recent immigrants, the unemployment rate was 12%, according to Statistics Canada. Consequently, the proportion of recent immigrants (in Canada for five years or less) in the poverty threshold (defined as falling below the Statistics Canada Low-Income Cut-Off) increased from 24.6% in 1980 to 34.2% in 1985 to 31.3% in 1990 to 47% in 1995, falling to 35.8% in 2000 and 36% in 2005. Still, a paper released by CLSRN cites a few positive effects of immigration. “Immigrants obviously increase aggregate demand, especially associated with housing but also with investment,” some of which could potentially come from the business immigrants, the paper titled, Macroeconomic Impacts of Canadian Immigration: Results from a

OFTEN THE PROBLEM IS THAT NEWCOMERS FOCUS ALL THEIR ENERGY ON LEARNING TECHNICAL SKILLS lar difficulties. Some new graduates are told after the interview “you lack relevant work experience” when it is clear from the resume that the new graduate has not worked in the field before. Another variation of this issue is when a newcomer, probably having worked in Canada in a different field, is told after the interview that he or she does not have a license, when a license is not absolutely required for the job. For example, engineers and accountants can work in their field as long as they are supervised by someone who has a license. Or a newcomer is told after the interview that he or she does not know the software used by the company. Properly diagnosing the problem is the first step to effectively solving it. Many newcomers take action without fully understanding the problem. Some start learning new software, some try to get a license, while others go back to school to get a graduate degree. Eight months or two years and tens of thousands of dollars later, they still can’t land a job. Knowing that soft skills (not software) are the root cause guides newcomers to work on their soft skills. Often the problem is that newcomers focus all their energy on learning technical skills. Going back to school is a great way to learn soft skills. When I took my HR courses for my designation, I met many newcomers. All HR courses include a team project. Newcomers often have difficulties working with their peers. They are focused on getting good grades and often consider that their Canadian teammates are not working hard enough and will therefore lower their grades. Instead, newcomers can use this great opportunity to learn how Canadians work in teams – how they set goals, divide work, give each WINTER 2013 | NEWCOMER BULLETIN




other feedback and hold each other accountable. Some newcomers spend a lot of money, time and energy to get their foreign degrees assessed and then wonder why their credentials are still not recognized by employers. I asked many recruiters and managers, “If someone’s resume shows that their university degree is evaluated by, say, University of Toronto, as a Canadian equivalent, does that make a difference?” The answer is, “it depends.” Some people answered, “No, it doesn’t matter. I am looking for what they have done with that degree.” Others said, “Yes, it will give me some comfort level. However, the candidate must demonstrate that they have the experience and the skills required to do the job.” Others said, “I am hiring for attitude. I need workers who are conscientious and hard working.” ACCREDITATION In some professions – for example, health care – credential recognition is absolutely necessary. However, each regulatory body – College of Nurses, College of Pharmacists, Professional Engineers Ontario – does its own credential assessment. They will not recognize the accreditation by other institutions. So it’s very important to research how much of a difference credential assessment makes to the target employers; if it is critical to be licensed or registered, determine who should do the accreditation in order to maximize the return on investment. I want to end this article by sharing a story. The HR manager of a life-science company said that she hired a newcomer with a PhD who worked in a meat packaging factory as his first job in Canada. She was impressed by his initiative and selfmotivation. In conclusion, technical skills get newcomers past the resume screening; soft skills get them hired. n CAROLINE YANG and her business partner Lionel Laroche run a CIC-funded Train-theCoach workshop for employment counselors throughout Ontario. Their web address is:



321,600 2%

569,900 3%

634,900 3%

Very recent immigrants (5 years or less) Recent immigrants (between 5 and 10 years)

2,757,400 15%

Establihed immigrants (more than 10 years) Born in Canada

14,415,500 77%

Non-landed immigrants

Sources: Labour Force Survey, 2011

Macro-model said. “Over the long term, the impact of immigration on the industrial structure of regions can be substantial. The ability to attract international talent has long been a defining characteristic of leading financial centers.” The paper acknowledges that government spending in response to new immigration will rise but argues that taxes paid by immigrants will exceed expenditures for a number of reasons: the taxes are more immediate while many of the expenditures come later; there are economies of scale in the provision of government services; and immigrants tend to enter in the taxpaying years of their lifecycle. The paper recommends improving the economic integration of immigrants into the Canadian labour market “because such integration is also likely to enhance the generally positive impact that immigrants have on the Canadian economy.” Immigration can also foster increased productive economic activity between Canada and the source countries of immigrants, it said. A Conference Board of Canada study finds that a 1% increase in immigration from a specific country could

lead to a 0.1% increase in the value of Canadian exports, largely as a result of the international networks that immigrants bring with them. They also bring with them a desire for goods from their home markets, which would contribute to a 0.2% growth in the value of imports and a more interesting and varied market for all consumers. Indeed, a multicultural marketing and consulting firm based in Toronto sees the newcomers as an important market that could fuel Canada’s economic growth. “Over the next 10 years,” according to the Diversity Marketing Services Inc., “70% of the growth in Canada’s economy will come from newcomers. Between now and 2020, $64 billion of $90 billion in economic growth will come from recent immigrants to Canada.” A research from CIBC World Markets seems to reinforce that forecast, saying that about 70% of the growth in retail sales in Canada over the next decade will likely come from visible minorities. “The growth of visible minority consumers is changing merchandising strategies in mainstream stores, spawning new modern indigenous stores, and altering the shopping dynamics of urban centres,” retail analyst Perry



15-19 20-24 25-29 30-34 35-39 40-44 45-49 50-54 55-59 60-64


Landed immigrants








12.5% 10.1%



Very Recent



17.8% 20.9%











10.4% 13.4%
















15.4% 13.2%



Born in Canada



11.1% 10.6%










9.6% 10.7% 10.6% 10.3% 11.1% 12.4% 12.0% 9.0%



Source: Labour Force Survey, 2011

Caicco at CIBC said, noting that ethnic retailers are now gobbling up market share, raking in between $4 billion and $5 billion in food sales each year. According to a 2010 study by Solutions Research Group Consultants, a Toronto-based market research firm, Chinese and South Asian shoppers spend more on groceries than other Canadians. The study finds that Chinese Canadians spend $136 on groceries weekly, 9% more than the average

shopper in Toronto and Vancouver. And South Asian Canadians are veritable foodies, spending 23% more. With the arrival rates for Filipinos, to whom big parties are very much part of their culture, accelerating, they may not actually be far behind on the list of big-time food spenders. To digress a little, here’s a little foretaste into the Filipinos’ profligacy on parties: Food – and booze too – flow

like they last for weeks. Party’s not over until someone roars with an Engelbert Humperdinck tune in the karaoke, a ubiquitous fixture in nearly every Filipino home. And when the party does start to wind down, expect to see a queue of party guests around the buffet table, food plastic containers in hand, ready to dig in again to take some food home. Tomorrow will be another festive day: an impromptu leftover party. n




THE GREATER THE DIVERSITY IN OUR CLASSROOMS, THE MORE ENRICHED THEY BECOME our classrooms, the more enriched they become.” At the KPR, well-being and a sense of belonging are as important as academics to student development and success. KPR believes that schools must be places where students learn and feel valued in equal measure.

From left: Liana Orlovskaya and her two children – Kostia and Lida

WHEN MORE IS BETTER Liana Orlovskaya remembers having mixed feelings when she, along with her two children, arrived in Canada from Belarus in 2009.


here was a sense of excitement. There was also fear of the unknown: How would her two teenaged children, both of whom did not speak a word of English, learn English? Where would they go to school? How would they 20

feel a part of the community? Enter the Settlement Workers in Diane Lloyd Schools (SWIS) program of the New Canadians Centre (NCC). A partnership between the school boards, the Canadian government and the NCC, SWIS is focused


on supporting immigrant children and their families as they adjust and integrate into Canadian society. “We are fortunate to welcome students and families from around the world into our elementary and secondary schools,” says Diane Lloyd, chairperson of the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board. “We believe it is imperative that everyone be treated with dignity, respect and care. The greater the diversity in

“KPR believes that public education is the cornerstone of a successful democratic society,” says Rusty Hick, the director of education. “It offers one place where Rusty Hick people of all backgrounds and beliefs can come together to learn, to grow and to share knowledge and perspectives. We sincerely welcome and embrace diversity.” The KPR board covers close to 7,000 square kilometres, including the Municipality of Clarington, as well as Northumberland County and Peterborough City and County. According to a 2012 Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants report titled, “Make Ontario Home,” immigrants make up 8% of the City of Peterborough’s population. Figures from Statistics Canada show that about 5.2% of Peterborough City





KPR has initiatives that directly support new Canadian families whose first language is neither English nor French. To support English Language Learner (ELL) students and their families, KPR is using the Language Line Telephone translation service, which provides a live interpreter on the telephone, to help parents and students communicate effectively with school staff. The service is free for schools to use. KPR also supports new Canadian families through: partnership with SWIS, a collaborative program with the New Canadians Centre ■ English Second Language resource teachers who may conduct an initial assessment of a newcomer student’s English language proficiency, and who work with school staff from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12 to support new English Language Learners ■ professional development for teachers on programs, assessment and evaluation for English Language Learners ■ English Second Language classes for high school students at Thomas A. Stewart Secondary School ■

KPR believes that excellence in education is founded on respect for the dignity and humanity of all individuals and that an excellent education system also focuses on developing human potential, to enable all individuals and groups to contribute fully within a diverse society. and County residents, 6.3% of Clarington residents, and 4.4% of Northumberland County residents speak a mother tongue other than English, French or an Aboriginal language. Thanks to the support of SWIS, Liana and her two children – Kostia, now 16 and Lida, 19 – have successfully integrated fully into the community. n

CONTACTS For more information on equity, diversity and inclusion at KPR, please contact the Equity and Diversity team in Human Resources at 1-877741-4577, ext. 2249. For details on the SWIS program, English Language Learner translation services, or any other ELL services, please call 1-877-741-4577, ext. 2170.



o support families with children, the federal and provincial governments give child benefits in the form of monthly cash payments and annual tax-saving credits to qualified supporting parents. The tax-saving credits include a dozen of refundable and non-refundable tax credits such as GST credit, dependant credit and fitness, art and activity tax credits. If you are qualified, you should apply and claim all the applicable child benefits and credits.

CANADA CHILD TAX BENEFITS CCTB consists of Child Basic Benefit, National Child Benefit Supplement, and Child Disability Benefit. In Ontario, the provincial child benefit is also administered by CCTB program. The benefits are paid on the 20th of each month. The maximum amount is about $400 per month for a child under 18 years of age. The amount decreases slightly for each of the extra children in a family. The amount decreases with the increase of your adjusted family income over $25,000. In addition, there is Child Disability Benefit of $220 per month per child. To be qualified, the Disability Tax Credit Certificate needs to

be signed by a doctor and approved by Canada Revenue Agency.

UNIVERSAL CHILD CARE BENEFIT UCCB, $100 per month, is a taxable benefit paid to eligible families with children under six years of age. The payment is different from that of CCTB, but paid to you also on the 20th of each month. The amount you received for a tax year is reported on a slip called RC62, sent to you automatically by the end of the year. You need to report this amount as income in your tax return. CHILD TAX-SAVING CREDIT Child tax-saving credits include the refundable credits (such as GST credit, Ontario sales tax credit and activity tax credit) and the non-refundable tax credits (such as child basic tax credit, eligible dependent tax credit, education credit and child fitness and art tax credits). Also, if you paid medical and childcare expenses for your children, you can claim them in your tax return to save your income tax. The government does not give you the credits automatically. You have to claim any of the applicable tax credits to maximize your child tax benefits. n

FOREST LI is a certified income-tax consultant.




Estifania Suelo, left, is acknowledged with a gift, handed by Theresia and Bob Laing, as the most-recent newcomer during a Filipino Christmas party in Peterborough. Beside her is Ann Dizon, her granddaughter.

CIC reports 87% approval rate for super visas


itizenship and Immigration Canada said there has been a strong uptake of the new super visa, which allows parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens and permanents residents to take multiple entries to Canada over a 10-year period, two years at a time. Acceptance rate is at 87%, according to a CIC news release. More than 10,000 super visas have so far been issued since the program was unveiled in December 2011. “We listened to Canadians who told us the old program with eight-year wait times just didn’t work,” said Immigration Minister Jason Kenney. “Our government is committed to family reunification. I’m happy to see that the program is growing and that more and more eligible parents and grandparents are getting the opportunity to spend longer 22


Total applications received Total applications with final decision Total applications pending final decision Withdrawals Approval rate (% of final decisions) Refusal rate (% of final decisions)

15,581 13,216 2,284 81 87% 13%

Source: Citizenship and Immigration Canada

periods of time with their loved ones in Canada.” CIC’s 2013 Levels Plan includes the admission of 25,000 parents and grandparents for the second year in a row, for a total of 50,000 between 2012 and 2013 – a 60% annual increase from 2010 and the highest level in nearly two decades. To be eligible for the super visa, applicants must be the parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens and permanent residents. Host child or grandchild must meet a


minimum income level. One of the key requirements for the super visa is a minimum of $100,000 emergency medical coverage with a Canadian insurer for one year. “The emergency medical coverage protects an individual against unexpected medical expenses,” said Eileen Madder, financial advisor with Manulife Securities during a forum organized by Newcomer Bulletin for newcomers in Peterborough. “Visitors without medical insurance could pay in excess of $2,000 per

day for hospitalization in Canada. And that number could climb, depending on the age of the patient and the complexity and severity of the medical condition.” Super visa is part of the family reunification program, an effort at cutting the backlog and wait times for sponsored parents and grandparents. When the program was launched in 2011, more than 165,000 parents and grandparents have applied to become permanent residents of Canada and whose applications – pending for as long as seven or eight years – still await final decision. “Action must be taken to cut the backlog, reduce the wait times, and ensure that the parents and grandparents program is sustainable over the long run,” Mr. Kenney said. Super visas are processed within eight weeks or less. n


FLEMING: QUEST FOR LEARNING From improving your English to developing career-related skills, or learning something new just for fun, Fleming College offers more than 1,000 Continuing Education courses in a variety of subject areas offered in-class and online.


ontinuing Education courses can help local newcomers improve their communication skills, meet new people in the community, and assist with their professional development. Many newcomers seek the opportunity to practise and improve their communication skills. Through Continuing Education at Fleming College, they can gain confidence in their

ability to speak and write in English. For example, in the Communications I course, students practise writing, speaking, reading, listening, locating and documenting information, and using technology to communicate professionally, which helps them succeed in both education and workplace environments. And for those interested in learning a different language, Fleming offers French, Italian,



and Spanish classes too.

duction to financial ratios.

Some newcomers may need to develop career-related skills for their job or to assist with their job hunt. Continuing Education offers professional development, and some lead to recognized certificates. One helpful course for those needing to improve their math skills is Business Math. The Business Math course covers basic arithmetic and algebra, and provides students with mathematical tools and concepts needed for other college courses and for future employment. Fleming also offers Accounting Basics I online, which teaches students how to record business transactions, prepare financial statements, end-of-period adjustments, accounting for merchandising firms, accounts receivable, cash management and an intro-

Another opportunity offered through Continuing Education is to take general interest courses. They are fun and help you interact with new people. Courses like Basic Latin Ballroom Dance teaches students the Tango, Rumba, Cha-Cha; or Garden Design, where students learn the general principles and elements of garden design, and can bring along a sketch of a property to help create and put their plan into action. Fleming’s Continuing Education courses will give students a competitive edge, and lead them on a pathway to greater knowledge and skills. From communication and professional skills, to generalinterest courses, Continuing Education at Fleming College has something for everyone. n

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Photo by Naser Miftari


Carl and Ruth Hudson

THE POWER OF TWO By NASER MIFTARI Carl Hudson and his wife Ruth, both in their early 70s, may have both retired from their professions – he as a social worker, she as a teacher – but they showed no signs of slowing down. On this quiet post-Christmas morning, they are catching up with get-togethers with friends and family.


arl didn’t like to see himself as retired. “I call it the change of the seasons,” he said in jest. They are heavily involved in community work as volunteers both in Peterborough and abroad. In May 2012, they were named Volunteers of the Year during the 24

annual general meeting of the New Canadians Centre (NCC) in recognition of their volunteer work over the past three years. Their volunteer work at NCC included taking groups of newcomers to local museums, public library, hospital, and local coffee


shops and stores – tours that they call “Welcome Walks.” They also coach newcomers one on one. “We want to help people. We are Christians. And having been abroad, we know how difficult it is if you don’t know the language, the places, or the people. We put ourselves in the newcomers’ shoes,” Ruth said. THAILAND Since 2003, Carl and Ruth have been involved in a humanitarian project that helps children from Thailand, many of them left behind by their parents, or refugess from Myanmar (formerly Burma), putting them through school and steering them away from organized prostitution. The project, organized by

Mighty Oak Foundation, was started by Carl’s elder brother Albert and his wife Carolyn. “We provide education for children from primary school to university. We have 19 kids going to university right now, and the project has 100 children,” Ruth said. Funds come mainly from other Canadians who signed up as sponsors. As volunteers, Carl and Ruth teach English to the kids. “We have not been there long enough to make it really thorough, but we love it. We love the people,” Ruth said. Many of the children are orphans. “We sponsor them. We go and interview all families


WE WANT TO HELP PEOPLE. HAVING BEEN ABROAD, WE KNOW HOW DIFFICULT IT IS IF YOU DON’T KNOW THE LANGUAGE, THE PLACES, OR THE PEOPLE. – usually grandparents of those children – and we also interview the sponsors. This is how connections are established,” Ruth said. “Our desire is to see that the kids grow up safe and receive the education that would help their families back home.” Carl and Ruth are hopeful that they might travel back to Thailand within the year. MENTORS Carl and Ruth have helped newcomers in their process of feeling more at home in Peterborough. For instance, more recently Carl coaches a Romanian newcomer, who is an NCC client. They also take the lead in forming a seniors group at NCC. And during last year’s Multicultural Canada Day Festival, which NCC organized, they staffed the water tent all day and supervised young volunteers. In handing the Volunteers of the Year award to the couple, NCC, in its letter of recognition, states: “Carl and Ruth have made a huge difference in the lives of many newcomers. They epitomize the spirit of the wonderful volunteers we have, and we are truly grateful to them.” n






he New Canadians Centre offices in Peterborough and Cobourg held their annual Winter Celebration Potluck Party, respectively, on December 4 and 12, 2012. The parties were not only meant as a family social evening but also as a venue where newcomers can meet other members of the community.

Chinese Children’s Group Dancing to the Pocket Kings Band

Dancing for Fun group

English Conversation Group

NCC Staff Children’s Choir

Duet by Myoungju Heo and Scott Shin

NCC Citizenship Group leads the singing of O, Canada

Guests queue up for food

Hajni Hos singing If I were a Rose

Student volunteers

Carolina Orduz, Emi Okada, Christine Waicks and her baby Laura

Jenny Santos and Gabriel Ribadeneira

Anne Elliott, middle, with two student volunteers

A piano rendition by Dongik Oh

Duet by Julia and May

Cobourg potluck guests

NCC holiday gift items

Sharon Heta

Alona Poplawski

Luz Ofelia Maya

Marilyn Collison AMP Mortgage Agent License No. 10530

Rebecca Lyon and Tony Fernandez

Call Me Today! Bus (705) 741-3307 Cell (705) 768-2152 Fax (705) 749-2307

#200-311 George Street North Peterborough, ON K9J 3H3 Corporate Office: 2005 Sheppard Ave. E Suite 200, Toronto, ON M2J 5B2 Toll Free 1-877-366-3487 • Local (416) 499-5454 • 26





n November 21, 2012, Newcomer Bulletin and the New Canadians Centre jointly organized a forum called Newcomer Challenges and Opportunities at the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce boardroom. Resource speakers discuss housing opportunities for first-time home buyers, super visa and employment issues and challenges.

Eileen Madder of Manulife Securities

Dindin Villarino

Clarence Collison of Realty Executives Alison Ltd

Michael Vanderherberg and Carole Vanecko

Jason Stabler, Joan Barrett, Jane Lang, Gabrielito Garcia (standing) and Clarence Collison

Angel Lim, Jing Solis and Claire Magallano

Greg Thompson and Forest Li

Betty and Jason Dennison

Ester Itong and Marcelino Saplagio

Mabub Alam, Carmela Valles, Betty and Jason Dennison



n December 6, 2012, Northumberland County hosted the fourth workshop of the series on Strengthening Northumberland as a Welcoming Community. Sponsored by the New Canadians CentreCobourg and Horizons of Friendship, the workshop discussed strategies to address the top three barriers to successful integration: Canadian experience, access to health services and language training. Photos by Thelma Dillon and Craig Frayne

Lorena Arimon, Patricia Orantes, Rosa Ortega, Charmaine Lindsay and Caroline McNamara

Hajni Hos, Linda Essak and Luz Ofelia Maya

Workshop participants – community partners and newcomers

Thelma Dillon, Kari Spry and Dindin Villarino

Rosa Ortega, Patricia Orantes and Lorena Arimon

Rosa Ortega, Patricia Orantes, Lorena Arimon and Liliana Quispe




At the Zhangjiajie National Park in Hunan province

I was to provide round-theclock care to ensure their health, safety and enjoyment at all times. My clients also deemed my understanding of the Chinese business etiquette essential in facilitating transactions.

At the site of the Leshan Giant Buddha in Sichuan province


Mary couldn’t believe how Kentucky Fried Chicken and Häagen-Dazs shops dominate the big cities. Nor did she expect the extravagant interior design of a Pizza Hut franchise. She kept wondering why many of the Chinese managed to stay physically slim even though some of them do not necessarily seem to observe good and healthy diets.

We were bathed in China’s summer heat and humidity. I was hired by two Peterborough residents as a private interpreter, business assistant and tour guide for a 45-day trip across China.


ur journey encompassed 10 provinces and special economic zones, including Sichuan – of which the city of Chengdu is a part, the city where I was born and raised until I, along with my mother, moved to Canada. I have made two trips back to China since 2006, when I first arrived in Canada as a 14-year-old; this was the second. Still, it was irrevocably emotional to me. I inevitably ran into friends and familiar faces, many of whom have not had the opportunity to 28

EYE-OPENER The cross-cultural implications were another matter. The trip was an eye-opener to my clients and even challenged some of their fundamental beliefs. Food, for instance, was quite a test, as I struggled to order the right food for these two vegetarians.

From left: Mr. A. Demonte, Chen Rao and Mary Thomas

venture out of the city’s confines. For much of China, the landscape has dramatically changed, with the country’s seemingly never-ending construction activity. Lavish spending is apparent as the country transitioned from communism to the materialistic phase of modern China. REAL CHINA The Chinese tourism indus-


try is developed but underregulated. There is a lot of scam, and service in English costs extra. My clients, Mary Thomas and Mr. A. Demonte, wanted to see the “real China” – meaning, not the designated places tour agencies wanted foreigners to see. Our itinerary also included visits to seven factories in brick, cement, solar-heater, mineral and charcoal industries.

We did not find a definitive answer, but we were told that sugar, fat and salt content in Chinese cuisine is much lower than that in North American food. Also, the Chinese keep a busy lifestyle. Mr. Demonte and Mary quickly developed a special aptitude for “crowd management.” There were queues everywhere, and the hordes of people were just overwhelming for those who were used to having private space in Canada. City streets

SPECIAL FEATURE TRAVEL are jammed – too many cars and people and not enough rules being followed. The ability of our taxi drivers to navigate through the busy streets made Mary comment about how it was a real art to drive in China. They were awed by China’s grand museums and often said to me: “Look at those exquisite artifacts! How did you folks lose your culture?” I explained to them that the real answer to China’s future lies in its ability to strike a balance between keeping its rich history and culture and embracing modernization. One thing I did share with Mr. Demonte was the passion for learning a language. He was amused by how pistachio was translated into “the smiling, happy nut” in China. In case we got separated, I kept quizzing him about simple Chinese characters and emergency contact numbers. He thought learning Chinese, contrary to common belief, was easy. He was able to make associations between the new characters and things he was already familiar with. “The fire character is just an upside-down Y with two strokes on either side. The fire department is reached at 119. I just flip 911,” he said. Mr. Demonte, the mountainclimber, went up the Yellow Mountain by foot even during a pouring rain. Mary and I had our fair share of workout, catching up with him. My shoes were beyond redemption two weeks into our seven-week journey. NEXT STOP Our journey allowed us to see numerous world-heritage sites, including the TerraCotta Army and The Forbidden City. We are on our way to the next stop.

At the Yellow Mountain in An’hui province

4 5 D AY S I N C H I N A Beijing Shanxi


Tianjin FINISH

Henan An’hui


Yellow Sea


Zhejiang Hunan Guangxi Newcomer Bulletin Graphics

START East China Sea

Guangdong TAIWAN Hong Kong

The train jerked. Someone cursed in the toilet. I heard a screeching sound as the train conductor slammed on the break. A digital sign “No toilet while stabilizing” caught my eye. “You know,” Mary looked up at me, “it is really for scenic beauty that they shut off the washroom when stopping the train. It’s just a hole on the floor.” Until we reach our next three-star hotel, we had better stock up some sleep. n PHOTOS BY CHEN RAO AND DAQING RAO





SAVE THE DATES WHAT : 32nd Annual One World Dinner Vegetarian Potluck WHEN : Saturday Feb 2, 2013 WHERE : St Paul’s Presbyterian Church ■ ■

Doors open at 5:00pm; dinner starts at 5:30pm Tickets at the door: $5 per person, $10 per family or PWYC

Please bring a vegetarian contribution to feed 4-6 people (no desserts please). Provide a list of ingredients and a dish pack. Proceeds go to support the work of the New Canadians Centre, Kawartha World Issues Centre, Jamaican Self-Help and World University Service of Canada.

To learn more about ordering tickets or sponsorship opportunities for the NCC Masquerade Ball, please contact Gabriela Revak at, (705) 743-0882, extension 235. This event is supported by the Peterborough Community Futures Development Corp. A United Way Member Agency

205 Sherbrooke St. Unit D, Peterborough, ON, K9J 2N2 • Tel (705) 743.0882

WHAT : NCC Masquerade Ball: One Night in Venice WHEN : Saturday March 2, 2013, 6:00pm WHERE : The Venue This must-attend event will be an evening of fine dining, enchanting conversation, spectacular entertainment, silent auctions and dancing. Enjoy a night out with your friends and colleagues. ■

Ticket: $100 each (charitable tax receipt of $50 will be provided; available online or at the New Canadians Centre). Twitter hashtag: #NCCgala

Newcomer Bulletin Winter 2013  
Newcomer Bulletin Winter 2013  

Newcomer Bulletin is a magazine resource for newcomers and longer-term immigrants to Ontario, Canada.