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FOCUS: THE OF IMMIGRATION Surrey’s immigrant population is the fastest growing in Metro Vancouver. The Leader explores how increased ethnic diversity has changed and challenged the community.

November 2011

2 Surrey/North Delta Leader Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Our students Our students Our students deserve better deserve better Teachers are worried. Since guaranteed services for students with special needs were stripped from our contracts, many children are not receiving the support they need. Illegal contract stripping has meant almost 1,500 fewer specialist teachers in BC. In our community, we have lost 262 specialist teachers.

Restore guaranteed services. BC kids just can’t wait.

A message from the Surrey Teachers’ Association

Tuesday, November 22, 2011 Surrey/North Delta Leader 3


Changing places – A city transformed by newcomers Measuring the tide of immigration rolling into Surrey

What’s inside Region in 2031 6 City services 7 Multiculturism 8 Building a nation

by Jeff Nagel


steady flow of newcomers has already changed the face of Surrey. More than 150,000 immigrants have settled here so far and more are choosing the city as their home all the time. From business to politics, to entertainment and housing, the influx of foreign-born residents has profound implications for the city’s future. And this is just the beginning. Surrey’s immigrant population is the fastest growing in Metro Vancouver, climbing from less than 30 per cent of the population in 1996 to 38 per cent in 2006 (the latest census numbers available). More than 60,000 newcomers arrived in the city during that period.

Where they come from


or the largest group of immigrants who settled in Surrey, home was originally India. More than 52,000 Surreyites were born there – making up more than one-third of all immigrants in the city. (All numbers are from the 2006 census unless otherwise noted as the 2011 census results have not yet been released). For those leaving India, Surrey is their number-one destination in the Lower Mainland, accounting for half of all ethnic South Asians in Metro Vancouver. Of the newest immigrants, arriving in 2001-2006, those born in India number more than 12,000, or about 40 per cent of the 29,000 who arrived most recently. Asian-born residents overall account for two-thirds of immigrants in

Surrey (more than 100,000) and 82 per cent of the most recent arrivals in 2001-2006. More than 27,000 immigrants in Surrey were born in Europe – the next largest group – including 11,000 from Britain. But Europeans make up few of the newcomers. The Phillipines was the birth country of nearly 13,000 Surrey immigrants and Filipinos account for 3,700 of the most recent arrivals. Census data shows Surrey’s immigration surge didn’t really get rolling until the 1990s, a decade that saw 52,000 immigrants arrive – twice as many as during the 1980s. Another 29,000 settled here from 2001 to 2006, a further increase in the rate of immigration. But to population experts such as Urban Futures demographer Andrew Ramlo, the immigration levels paint an incomplete picture. Some foreign-born residents who arrived here decades ago – whether from Europe or Asia – have had plenty of time to integrate. And looking only at those born outside Canada ignores the children of recent immigrants, who also exert cultural influence, particularly as the number of Surrey residents of South Asian heritage grows. Ramlo says a different measure of the changing face of Surrey is the proportion of residents who count themselves as visible minorities. That number hit 46 per cent in the 2006 census and Ramlo said it’s certain to top 50 per cent when the latest count is tabulated. That means Asians and other non-Caucasians will form a “visible majority” in Surrey, as has already happened in Vancouver, Richmond and Burnaby. 10

Food bank evolution 11

Inspired to paint 12

From the Green Isle 13

Mixed marriages 14

In Surrey, on the air 16

ESL students 18 Ethnic enclaves 19


Social conscience 20

Cant’ get enough 22

Helping refugees 24

A fresh retail idea 26

Employment challenges 27

Becoming a citizen 28

Cultural connection 29

Fun on and off the field 30

Surrey in Focus was written by Leader reporters Kevin Diakiw, Boaz Joseph, Rick Kupchuk, Jeff Nagel and Sheila Reynolds, and contributor Tricia Leslie. Photographs by staff photographers Evan Seal and Boaz Joseph Cover and layout design – Glory Wilkinson EVAN SEAL / THE LEADER

A pair of new Canadians listen to proceedings during a citizenship ceremony in North Surrey last month.

Editor – Paula Carlson

4 Surrey/North Delta Leader Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Opportunities: Success and difficult times From page 3

Parlez vous Punjabi?


mmigration levels affect how many residents can speak English. Census statistics show there are large sections of Newton where 10 to 15 per cent of residents don’t speak English (as of 2006) – double to triple the Metro Vancouver average rate of just over five per cent. In contrast, the proportion of non-English speakers drops to less than two per cent in much of Cloverdale and less than one per cent throughout South Surrey. For all of Surrey, about 21,000 residents or 5.5 per cent of the population speak no English, compared to a provincial average of three per cent. According to 2006 census figures, 70.7 per cent of Surrey residents speak English at home, while 15.4 per cent speak Punjabi and 3.3 per cent speak Chinese, followed by Korean, Hindi and Tagalog (the language of Filipinos) at less than two per cent each. Put together, 215,000 Surrey residents list English as their mother tongue, compared to 174,000 who list languages other than English or French. The growing language diversity is making the job of planning community services more complex, Ramlo notes. Businesses, hospitals, schools, libraries and recreation centres all find themselves dealing with non-English clientele more often than in the past. “Catering to all that diversity is not a simple thing to do,” Ramlo said. “It’s easier to serve a community if you only have to communicate with them in one language.” While immigrants themselves may fail to learn English or at least favour their birth language, their

Canadian-born children invariably speak English, Ramlo noted. “You do become Canadian relatively quickly, if language is any indicator of that.” Arriving South Asians are also becoming less homogenous, with more Hindi speakers immigrating here than before.

Feeling at home


ome neighbourhoods of Surrey are highly populated with immigrants. Those not born in Canada make up 50 to 60 per cent of residents in some parts of Surrey, primarily Newton. That’s significantly more than the Metro Vancouver average of 40 per cent. The Scott Road and King George corridors are dotted with Indian restaurants, sweet shops, fabric stores, temples – and immigration lawyers. The ethnic clusters also mean bigger houses because Indo-Canadian families are often multigenerational, with grandparents living under the same roof. While South Asians from India are prominent in certain neighbourhoods, other ethnicities have added to the diversity in Surrey. Filipinos have tended to cluster near Guildford, where they make up 10 to 15 per cent of the population of much of the surrounding neighbourhood – close to triple the Metro average. It’s no wonder immigrants with a common language, culture and religion tend to settle together. Life is easier when you have better odds of speaking your own language with your next-door neighbour or when the temple or specialty grocer is a short walk away because earlier immigrants from your homeland blazed the trail. But does the preference for familiarity

breed division? Some research argues the formation of ethnic enclaves can mean newcomers, while feeling more protected and comfortable, are less likely to integrate or be as connected to Canadian society. “There are significant tensions in Surrey masked over by the fact South Asians are concentrated in certain areas and not in others,” says SFU economics professor Don DeVoretz. Highway 10 forms one of the clearest dividing lines between the Indian-influenced northern neighbourhoods and South Surrey, where visible minorities are less common. But that border is fast blurring, Devoretz said, adding South Asian influence will soon be felt in neighbourhoods across the city where it’s so far been negligible. “South Asians are becoming more affluent,” he said. “And they’re going to decide, ‘We like areas like Cloverdale and South Surrey just fine, thank you very much.’ It’s going to make Surrey a different place.”

By the numbers: Top visible minorities in Surrey ■ South Asian – 108,000 ■ Chinese – 20,000 ■ Filipino – 16,500 ■ Southeast Asian – 9,200 ■ Korean – 7,600 ■ Black – 5,000 ■ Latin American – 3,800 Top mother tongues ■ English – 215,000

What they bring


usiness leaders and politicians hope Surrey’s growing connection with India amounts to a cultural pipeline that plugs the city directly in to the world’s biggest democracy and one of its fastestgrowing markets. The opportunities aren’t lost on entrepreneurs who embark on trade missions to India with the mayor and other local politicians. But in terms of immigrants themselves, DeVoretz said their ability to boost the local economy is often overrated. “For every successful immigrant here there are a lot of foreign-born having a hard time,” DeVoretz said. See SURREY / Page 5

■ Punjabi – 73,000 ■ Hindi – 11,600 ■ Tagalog – 10,000 ■ Korean – 7,300 Citizenship in Surrey ■ Canadian citizens – 346,500 ■ Non citizens – 46,000

DIVERSITY IN OUR CITY “Mayor Dianne Watts and Surrey City Council embrace diversity as one of our city’s greatest strengths. We are proud of our residents’ countless contributions to the social, cultural and economic growth of Surrey and look forward to continuing to partner with you.”

1188 11880 188 8880

Tuesday, November 22, 2011 Surrey/North Delta Leader 5


Surrey: A South Asian mayor someday, professor says From page 4 Immigrants in Surrey have a slightly higher unemployment rate than the broader city population and are slightly more likely to be low income. Immigrants employed full-time in Surrey on average earn $41,640 per year, less than the city average of $48,700. Sales and service are top occupations for immigrants here, followed by trades and transportation, business and administration, and manufacturing. In pure economic terms, Devoretz said new immigrants tend not to be a net financial benefit to the country, but added their Canadian-born children are major contributors. One trend that concerns him is that too few South Asian young men seem to go on from high school to post-secondary education. He hopes that’s temporary. But DeVoretz said a “phenomenal” number of South Asian women go to university and get degrees. Most immigrants arrive on the points system that rates their foreign vocational training and the skill set they offer EVAN SEAL / THE LEADER Canada. Rayyan Shafqat, 5, gets a high-five from Surrey-North MP Jasbir Sandhu during a A small minority are approved as Canadian citizenship ceremony last month in North Surrey. entrepreneur or investor immigrants who come on the promise of providing jobs and investment. The aim is to take in fewer older members still in India. The federal government has immigrants who are considered a drain India’s vibrant politics means South increasingly clamped down on the family on social services and more young Asians arriving here quickly fit in and category of immigration, particularly the can readily play roles at all levels of the ability of immigrants here to bring elderly people – policy that has angered South Asians trying to reunite elderly family political system. parents and grandparents to Canada.

“They’ve become substantial players in politics here,” Devoretz said. Surrey city council remains largely Caucasian – so far. “It’s going to change,” he predicted. “Dianne Watts will someday be replaced by a South Asian mayor.” Surrey has already passed other major milestones in terms of cultural change. The first Sikh RCMP officer to wear a turban as part of the uniform was stationed here. Surrey Memorial Hospital has grappled with cultural issues, such as ensuring staff respect the Sikh rule against cutting hair when preparing patients for surgery. Looking forward 20 years, Ramlo sees an older Surrey population – that’s a given – but also one that increasingly hails from Asia. “We’ll have a lot more coloured faces – a lot more cultural and ethnic diversity.” It may be too optimistic to count on a creative fusion of cultures to supercharge Surrey’s future. But experts doubt the city is heading for a dangerous period of trouble or division stemming from the challenges of ethnic change. Instead, expect a sometimes bumpy middle road, where Surrey continues to evolve as an overwhelmingly tolerant, diverse, multi-ethnic society, where people of different cultures increasingly mix well and inter-ethnic romances often bloom.

6 Surrey/North Delta Leader Tuesday, November 22, 2011



A diverse crowd of new Canadian citizens took their Oath of Citizenship last month. Visible minorities will soon be the majority in most of Metro Vancouver, according to projections from Statistics Canada.

Ethnically rich region to have ‘visible majority’ by 2031 No surprise in areas such as Surrey, demographer says by Jeff Nagel


thnic Chinese, South Asians and other visible minorities will form a solid majority in Metro Vancouver by 2031, according to Statistics Canada projections. So-called visible minorities who made up 42 per cent of the region’s population in the 2006 census should account for 59 per cent by 2031, the study shows. The proportion of foreign-born immigrants in the region is likewise expected to climb from 40 to 44 per cent over the same period. The concept of a “visible majority” is already a reality in major swaths of Metro Vancouver. Richmond’s concentration of Chinese Canadians means 65 per cent of residents there were already counted as visible minority in the 2006 census. Burnaby at 55 per cent in 2006 and Vancouver at 51 per cent also count as “visible majority” cities already, with Surrey (46 per cent in 2006) expected to soon join their ranks. “It’s a no-brainer to most of us here,” said Urban Futures demographer Andrew Ramlo. “This is not a new process at all.” But he said many people wrongly assume the trend entirely stems from immigration. “In part, it’s home-grown,” he said. The number of children born in Canada to visible

include Filipinos (204,000 or 5.9 per cent), Koreans minority families, some of whom have been here for (136,000 or 3.9 per cent), West Asians (89,000 or 2.6 generations, is rising all the time, he said. per cent), followed by blacks, Southeast Asians, Latin Ramlo also noted seven per cent of marriages in the Americans and other groups. Lower Mainland are interracial. The projections mean Metro Vancouver “It’s not just bringing more people here would continue to hang slightly behind through immigration,” he said. “The diversity Toronto as the country’s second most ethniof people already here is going to breed more cally diverse metro area. diversity.” The study also forecasts changes in reliHe said the changes raise workplace gious faith. issues such as publishing safety manuals in Christians made up just under half of more languages or considering the needs the population in 2006 but are forecast to of employees who might celebrate different decline to 46.6 per cent in Metro Vancouver religious holidays. by 2031. While there may be some challenges, Non-Christian religious denominations, Ramlo said a more diverse labour force also adds up to a major strategic advantage on the Andrew Ramlo at 16 per cent, are to grow to 20.8 per cent, due in part to an expected increase in Musworld stage for many employers. lims in Canada. The projections are based on Metro VanMetro Vancouverites who claim no couver’s population growing from nearly 2.2 religion are expected to be 32.6 per cent in 2031, down million in 2006 to 3.5 million by 2031. from 34.2 per cent in the latest count. The current 396,000 residents of Chinese ancestry The Abbotsford-Mission area is also becoming more are expected to more than double to 809,000 over the diverse, with the study projecting growth in the visible 25-year period, bringing them to 23.2 per cent of the minority population from 23 to 39 per cent. The numMetro population, up from 18.2 per cent now. ber of residents there born outside of Canada is forecast The South Asian population in the region is to grow to grow from 24 to 29 per cent. from 215,000 now to 478,000, or from 9.9 to 13.7 per cent of the Metro population. Other leading ethnic groups here by 2031 are to

“The diversity of people already here is going to breed more diversity.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011 Surrey/North Delta Leader 7


Bracing for even more cultural change Civic services and community events just part of plans by Kevin Diakiw



Members of the Goh Ballet Academy performed at Surrey’s Fusion Festival at Holland Park this past July.

ith a growing number of different cultures in the city, it was inevitable someone would throw a party that would cater to them all. And that’s what the City of Surrey did with Fusion Festival, an annual event which showcases the food and music of 40 different cultures each July. Created four years ago, the event now draws 90,000 people. It’s a far cry from where Surrey was 20 years ago, with a growing number of South Asians taking part in various events such as Miri Piri (a religious celebration) and Vaisakhi (welcoming the harvest) throughout the city. Vaisakhi is now one of the city’s biggest events, drawing more than 100,000 people during the oneday festival. The parade route, which begins and ends at the Gurdwara Sahib Dasmesh Darbar on 85 Avenue near 129 Street, and closes roads to automobile traffic along 125 and 128 Streets and 76 and 82 Avenues. The event was marred by controversy in previous years when images of Indian martyrs were put on a parade float, including people who belonged to groups Canada now considers terrorist organizations. That practice was brought to a halt this year. Along with the parades are a growing number of signs that South Asians are becoming a prominent percentage (now estimated at more than 33 per cent) of the population in Surrey. There is an increasing number of ethnic media – print, radio and TV. Other cultural events are becoming more promi-

nent, with festivals run by the Greek, Fijian and Jamaican communities gaining popularity. “We permit 110 events that the community itself puts on,” said Mary Rukavina, who oversees the permit process for special events in Surrey. And Ramadan plays a significant role in the ninth month of the Muslim calendar, when participants fast during the daylight hours for a month. At the end of the fast, Eid Al-Fitr is celebrated. At city hall, several events are officially recognized, including Vaisakhi, World Refugee Day, Rakhi, National Aboriginal Day, Eid, Diwali and Hanukkah, as well as Easter, Canada Day and Christmas. The mix of cultures is now so rich that some events have become a fusion of ethnic and non-ethnic activities. The Cloverdale Rodeo and Exhibition has long included a First Nations element, but now also features South Asian celebrations. Laurie Cavan, head of Surrey’s parks division, now aptly called Parks, Recreation and Culture, said the city has implemented several new strategies for the large number of people arriving from around the world. Key among them is getting the message out to new immigrants about the resources that are available. “They are a part of our community and we want them to access our services,” Cavan said. “We’ve seen an interest in sports like cricket and kabaddi,” Cavan said, as well as a boom in soccer, which is popular across many cultures.


8 Surrey/North Delta Leader Tuesday, November 22, 2011

THE CITY’S CHANGING FACE Multiculturism: ‘What Surrey is all about’ New, younger people needed to keep moving forward: Business leader by Tricia Leslie


nown for its diverse nature, the City of Surrey celebrates multiculturalism in a variety of ways, from the popular annual Fusion Festival, to its Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee, to participating in the province’s Multiculturalism Week. According to the last census (2006), Surrey had the second-highest number of foreign-born people of all the municipalities in Metro Vancouver. (Only Vancouver had more). “Multiculturalism is absolutely working in Surrey – that’s what Surrey is all about. We are so diverse,� said Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Association executive director Elizabeth Model. Immigrants not only help with population growth, but also with keeping the local economy strong by opening up businesses in Surrey, whether retail, restaurant or other small businesses. “We certainly need new, younger people coming in to keep our country moving forward,� Model said. “(Immigrants) make us a more diverse Canada, with a blend of cultures and ideas... we seem to embrace it all and still not lose our true Canadian identity.� See VILLENEUVE / Page 9

Surrey Hospice Society proudly celebrates 25 Years serving the Community of Surrey. What is Surrey Hospice Society about? It is about love, compassion and caring. Surrey Hospice Society has a Resource and Support Centre, where bereavement counselling and support groups are available to Children, Adults and Seniors in the Community of Surrey. Surrey Hospice Society holds events throughout the year honouring loved ones, and fundraisers to support programs and services. Dedicated volunteers are recruited and trained by the Society and they provide social, emotional and spiritual support for individuals and their loved ones at Laurel Place Hospice, the Tertiary Palliative Care Unit at Surrey Memorial Hospital and in the Community. Surrey Hospice Society


‘Multiculturism is absolutely working in Surrey,’ says Elizabeth Model, executive director of the Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Association.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011 Surrey/North Delta Leader 9


Villeneuve: Improvements are still needed in Surrey The total loan depends on the size of the family, according to an Immigration Services Society of B.C. report. Model points to the several excellent For example, the transportation loan restaurants and speciality grocery stores for one individual in 2009 was $1,563; for in the city that celebrate different ethnic a family of five headed by a single mother backgrounds, as well as things such as tai chi and yoga classes – things many may now with at least one child less than six years take for granted in Surrey, but weren’t always old, it was $7,010. Thirty days after arrival, each GAR is available. required to begin repayment of “There are so many different the loan. There is an interestcultural components in our free period from one to three everyday lives, yet we don’t years, based on the size of the even think about it any more.” loan. With a current population Immigration advocates note of more than 462,000, Surrey is Canada is the only country growing by 800 to 1,000 people in world that provides an a month, and while multiculinterest-bearing loan for its turalism and diversity are celGARs, and Surrey Coun. Judy ebrated, that doesn’t mean there Villeneuve said that eliminating aren’t challenges, Model said. the payback of that loan is an “I think government has to important focus for the city. find a balance – there has to “We’ve been trying for a be a balance of those who will number of years to get that truly embrace Canadian culture eliminated. Many (GARs) are and those who are unwanted, Elizabeth Model desperately working two to or trying to get into Canada for three jobs – if they can find the wrong reasons,” she said. them – to try to support their “We want people who underfamily and pay back this loan,” she said. stand that we are tolerant, but we are first Villeneuve said Surrey is a welcoming and foremost, Canadian.” and diverse community, but in order to She knows some may have trouble intekeep it that way, the transportation loan grating into a new way of life, and for some immigrants, especially Government Assisted payback needs to be eliminated and the city needs to also look at improving its Refugees (GARs) who come to Canada with transportation system, infrastructure and little or nothing, there is the added stress of institutions. paying back a transportation loan given to them by the federal government.

Fusion fun B.C. Cultural Bhangra Group performs at Surrey’s annual Fusion Festival, which celebrates diversity in the city.

From page 8

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10 Surrey/North Delta Leader Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Newcomers needed to build a nation, SFU professor argues Immigration: ‘Surrey’s population growth is right there’ by Tricia Leslie


ith glowing hearts, many Canadians are heartily proud of living in a country that is beloved around the world; a country known for its politeness, its love of hockey, and its welcoming and industrious nature. Canada is also a world leader on the national stage in many ways, from medical advances and technological discoveries to renewable energy efforts and competitive business strategies. Its major institutions are recognized, respected and imitated by other countries around the globe. Whether it be the friendly reputation or the amazing opportunities offered under the maple leaf flag, several hundred thousand citizens from other countries are choosing to make Canada their home every year, with many – more than 5,000 in 2006 alone – selecting Surrey as a settling point. In total, Canada receives a range of 225,00 to 250,000 new permanent residents each year, with last year (2010) showing a spike, with a total of 280,681. That equals about 38,000 to 42,000 new permanent residents in B.C. each year. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) spokeswoman Nancy Caron noted that, since 2006, the federal government has welcomed the highest sustained level of immigration in Canadian history. EVAN SEAL / THE LEADER Immigration has been Students fron Regent Christian Academy sing the Canadian national anthem during a citizenship court ceremony in October. At this important in the building particular ceremony, 79 new Canadians from 34 countries were sworn in as citizens. of this country, she said, as immigrants bring their skills, culture, traditions and people to support long-term economic growth and meet curworkers,” she said. knowledge. rent labour market needs,” Caron said. In Surrey, new permanent residents come primarily from “They innovate and contribute to the social and economic Simon Fraser University retired economics professor Don India, Asia, the Middle East and the Philippines, according to success of Canada,” she said, adding 2006 census data shows the DeVoretz agreed with that, although he disagreed with other 2006 statistics. proportion of Canada’s population who were born outside the immigration policies, including a recent announcement made With a current population of more than 462,000 and growing country reached its highest level in 75 years (6,186,950 foreignby Immigration Minister Jason Kenney means Canada will by the hundreds each month, the City of Surrey is one of the born). fastest-growing cities in Canada, and while the expansion is More importantly, immigration is needed to keep the country no longer accept applications from people who want to join their children or grandchildren, saying the purpose is to clear a definitely needed, it can pose challenges to the city in terms of financially viable. pressure on its health care system, infrastructure, schools and “During CIC’s most recent consultations on immigrant levels backlog. “I see it as out-and-out racist,” he said, noting the largest two community facilities, DeVoretz said. and mix, stakeholders all indicated that Canada still needs entry gates for grandparents are South Asia and China. He also said the government needs to address people getting Despite that, DeVoretz said Surrey and Canada need immia “passport of convenience” at “Hotel Canada.” gration in order to grow. “If they hold a Canadian passport but live abroad, (govern“That’s Surrey’s population growth right there,” he said. ment) should make them pay taxes and for their own private “I think what we need to do is build a nation and that takes health care.” immigration. If we didn’t have immigration, the population But many of them stay and live in the country as proud would decline... Canadians don’t have (enough) babies.” Canadians – and Canada has long been a destination of choice Children really are the future, he said, as they will be future for immigrants, Caron said, adding immigrants represent virtustudents, labourers, parents and professionals. ally one in five of the total population, the highest proportion SFU sociology professor Wendy Chan concurred. since 1931. “It seems obvious to me that without immigration, we will “Much of Canada’s success with and public support for immifind ourselves in a serious dilemma in another 10 years time gration is based on the positive outcomes of immigrants and Nancy Caron when the population continues to age, the birth rate remains their contribution to our economy and society,” she said. steady or likely declines, and there is a massive shortage of

“They innovate and contribute to the social and economic success of Canada.”

Tuesday, November 22, 2011 Surrey/North Delta Leader 11


New offerings at the Surrey Food Bank Food preference, language and diversity transforming both clients and social services by Boaz Joseph


ecently, the Surrey Food Bank (SFB) purchased two skids of canned chick peas at a cost of $3,500. The problem: The clients that food was intended for aren’t biting. “They’re giving it back,” says operations manager Rick Benson. “They want the real (dry) chick peas, not in a can. They keep handing it back.” The purchase, well-intended as it was, is part of an ongoing learning process for the food bank as it deals with a changing clientele. The transformation began some years back, when the food bank began to replace staples such as pork and beans with beans in tomato sauce, and more recently chick peas, to agree to the dietary restrictions of many new Muslim residents who do not eat pork. The SFB, which provides food for more than 14,000 people each month, has documented 37 different languages while registering new clients. The diversity is so prevalent now that the food bank has written its pick-up guidelines in 16 languages, says executive director Marilyn Herrmann. “We see people coming from countries that I haven’t even heard of.” If they can’t communicate, some clients will bring in relatives – sometimes children – to help with translation. Many of the newcomers are from East

Africa (mainly Somalia and Ethiopia) and Nigeria, says Feezah Jaffer, coordinator of volunteer resources. Some are also from Iraq, Iran and the Philippines. While some immigrants in Surrey, notably from India, don’t use the food bank because they rely on their families or temples, people from other countries or smaller communities have little choice. One woman who has lived in Canada for less than two months told Herrmann that since her family has no income or immediate job prospects, they must rely on the charity to survive. Herrmann says many new immigrants don’t know about other support services such as Progressive Intercultural Services Society (PICS) or DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society. “It takes time for them to find their way.” The food bank has also made efforts to organize a community kitchen (with the help of DIVERSEcity) to help immigrant families learn how to make meals from the food in their hampers. Some don’t know what to make out of a can of tuna, explains Herrmann. Others are confused by canned food in general, but they do appreciate fresh BOAZ JOSEPH / THE LEADER fruits and vegetables. Many are vegetarians, says Kris Hay- Many newcomers to Canada are not familiar ward, who works the registration desk. with canned food.

Lentils and rice are popular, and chick peas continue to be purchased by the SFB. Herrmann says the SFB staff of 13 (assisted by volunteers) is more diversified than it used to be, which helps serve clients better. One group of volunteers recently branched off with their own Muslim Food Bank (www. in Newton to serve clients in Surrey with more specific dietary needs. (Some of its organizers still volunteer with the SFB.) Herrmann says she works hard to make no assumptions about the history of each immigrant, nor how long it should take them to settle in. She was recently humbled upon learning that one man she talked to was a medical doctor in the Philippines. He had to start from square one in Canada with an $8 per hour job. Of the 851,000 people who used a food bank in Canada last March, 11 per cent were immigrants or refugees, according to the 2011 HungerCount, an annual survey published on Nov. 1 by Food Banks Canada. The number of immigrant clients is 18.5 per cent in large cities, according to the survey. A total of 90,193 people were served by B.C. food banks in March 2011, down 4,166 from the previous year, but well above the 67,237 from the same month in 2001. For more information, visit or

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Bridging cultures Artist promotes understanding by Sheila Reynolds

and giving lectures. Singh was honoured with Surrey’s Civic ince emigrating to Canada from India Treasures award in 2008 for his cultural 11 years ago, Jarnail Singh has made his contributions. mark in Surrey – mostly with a paintExamples of his work can been seen in brush. murals throughout Surrey, including one on The son of a renowned Indian artist, Singh the outside of the PICS (Progressive Interculhad no formal training as an artist and gained tural Community Services Society) seniors his knowledge and ability solely centre in west Newton of the by watching and helping his Komagata Maru incident of 1914 father. Soon, Singh was doing and another depicting the hishis own paintings, incorporating tory of Sikhism at the Gurdwara everything he had absorbed Singh Sabha. about composition and colour. “My paintings tell about the His first painting sold when history and culture of Punjab and he was in his early 20s. And Sikhs. In a multicultural society there was no turning back. they play an important part in He completed portraits cross-cultural understanding, and community scenes and which is very crucial in a diverse documented historical events, society. They are building bridges attracting followers with an everbetween communities.” growing body of work. Still, much of his art also Jarnail Singh A decade after his father reflects his current home – his passed away in 1990, Singh, his broad collection including wife and two children moved to works that depict the local Surrey. The artist had already earned an inter- parks, mountains and forests. He recalls the national reputation and the bulk of his comnatural beauty of Surrey and the surrounding missions were coming from North America, area spurring him to pursue painting more so a move seemed natural. landscapes. Once in Surrey the demand for his work “It inspired me to paint nature as I have continued and he quickly became immersed always wanted to.” in the local arts community, exhibiting his art



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he once worked as a citizenship court judge, reviewing applications and welcoming new Canadians to the country for six

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Jubilee and Golden Jubilee Awards for Community Service in 1977 and 2002 and three years ago, received a B.C. Community Achievement Award for her contributions. However, what many may not know about Glass is that she is a former Olympic athlete. While still living in Ireland, she competed in the 100 and 220 yard and broad jump events at the 1948 Games in London. And after emigrating, she continued her athletic endeavours, playing for Canada’s women’s field hockey team at the 1959 World Championships, and then covering the 1968 and 1976 Olympics in Mexico and Montreal, respectively, as a radio reporter. Now a grandmother of nine, Glass can often be spotted cheering from the stands at local high school games and continues to be highly involved in the community. “I’ve learned from everything I’ve ever done,” she says.

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14 Surrey/North Delta Leader Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Love in a new land Barbados native, Canadian wife wait for word from immigration officials


Tennyson and Angela Vaughn were married in Ocean Park in 2009. Tennyson is still navigating the bureaucratic process of becoming a Permanent Resident in Canada.

by Tricia Leslie


e remembers what she was wearing when they first met. She knew she wanted to marry him within weeks. Busy in their cozy South Surrey kitchen creating a scrumptious meal – open-faced sandwiches layered with fresh veggies, onion, cheese and salmon salad on freshly baked bread – Tennyson and Angela Vaughn have travelled a long and often difficult road for several years because of their love for each other. Born in two different countries, the married couple is waiting for word on Tennyson’s application to become a Permanent Resident of Canada, which will allow him to live and work here. Tennyson, 27, grew up in Bridgetown, Barbados with a passion for music and his faith, which led to a lot of mission work abroad. Angela, who grew up in White Rock, is a piano teacher with the same beliefs and love of music. Now 23, she recalls first meeting Tennyson in 2006, while the two were working for a music missions organization in California. “It was not love at first sight,” she quips, smiling. “I have an issue with authority ...” “...and I was a team leader,” Tennyson

chimes in, also grinning. their 11-month engagement, when Angela “I was intrigued with her the minute I laid was in California and Canada and Tennyson eyes on her. She was wearing a white flowwas in Barbados. ered skirt and a lime green shirt. She looked Despite the stress of living in different radiant.” countries, love prevailed and they were marJazz standards play softly in the backried in Ocean Park in 2009. They decided to ground – live show recordings – while live in Barbados, where Tennyson had a job as Tennyson puts the finishing touches on the church musical director. But living in Barbasandwiches before they go into the toaster dos, Angela soon found, is far different from oven. The overhead light gleams on the red being a tourist there. formica-topped 1950s-style Known for its tropical table and retro turquoise beauty, tourism and sugar chairs, lending their small but cane, the island country clean home a timeless quality. of Barbados is located in Leaning on the counter, the Lesser Antilles, is only Angela remembers how her 431 square kilometres and aunt died about three weeks has a population of nearly into the three-month mis300,000. Locals speak Bajan, sions tour. an English-based creole Tennyson asked her if she language with a Caribbean Angela Vaughn wanted to talk about it, and flair that non-locals can find that question led to a fateful hard to understand. conversation that sparked a “I did not understand the neighbours for the first few committed relationship. months,” Angela says. “I trusted him... I knew at that point, that “We had a pet lizard behind the coffee beans this was a good thing,” Angela says, noting and a bird who would fly in every morning she had never trusted any other man the and feed herself with whatever we were having same way. for breakfast. The relationship was largely long distance The differences between Canada and Barover the next few years, however, with work and/or missionary commitments keeping the bados were immediately apparent to Angela, from the warm, humid weather to the cane couple anywhere but together, even during

“I trusted him... I knew at that point, that this was a good thing.”

fields to the goats and chickens wandering freely around. Central air conditioning is mainly found in tourist areas, although window units for the bedroom are common everywhere. While signs and information can be plentiful in populous areas, Angela notes it was extremely difficult to find her way around the more rural areas due to a lack of signage. “The locals just know,” Tennyson says. “The cost of living there is pretty high. There’s a 15-per-cent tax on everything. Fuel is very expensive and you don’t find central air conditioning in a lot of Bajan homes because of energy expenses.” The average person in Barbados makes about $40,000 Bajan a year; the ratio is approximately 2:1 when compared to U.S. dollars, so $1 US is worth about $2 in Barbados, he notes. Because of the “three Cs” – climate, culture and church – the couple decided to move to Canada to live and work, returning to the area where Angela grew up. She got a job as assistant bakery manager at Cobs Bread in Ocean Park and is currently the family’s sole provider, as Tennyson cannot work while he is waiting for his application to be processed and the answer as to whether he can stay in Canada as a Permanent Resident. See TENNYSON / Page 15

Tuesday, November 22, 2011 Surrey/North Delta Leader 15


Tennyson: Eager to work; waiting is the hardest part From page 15 His papers were filed more than three months ago and the first of the required fees paid – Angela is his sponsor – but there are still likely several more months to wait and, should the first part of the process go smoothly, more fees to pay. Tennyson is eager to work. With an associate’s degree in music and experience in leadership positions since 2003, he’s raring to find the right job. “There are more opportunities here. There’s more opportunity to do a job you love and get paid well,” Tennyson says. “Here, there’s bigger business and bigger budgets.” While the waiting is the hardest part in a financially stressful process, the couple still enjoys dabbling in their own interests (swing dancing, music, high-tech multimedia – sound, lighting, etc.) and count Crescent Beach as a favourite place to visit. Surrey has been a welcoming community, Tennyson says, noting he hasn’t had any problems (other than not being able to work). If all the news is good and Permanent Resident status is granted, the couple are ready. “After the paperwork hopefully goes through, it’s wide open. We’d like to eventually start a family,” Angela says. Tennyson, taking the perfectly toasted sandwiches from the toaster oven after the timer goes off, mentions they may try to travel a little – together, for a change. “Overall, it’s been a great experience,” Tennyson says of moving to Canada, as he and Angela prepare to eat – together, in the same country, where they hope to settle for good. “I think it’s only going to get better.”

Mixed marriages on the rise Half of region’s South Asians live in Surrey by Jeff Nagel


ove is blossoming across ethnic groups as B.C.’s cultural mosaic grows ever more complex. Statistics Canada says mixed marriages – where couples are from two visibly different backgrounds – made up 5.9 per cent of all B.C. couples counted in the 2006 census, up from 4.9 per cent two years earlier. The province is home to the highest proportion of mixed union couples in Canada, and is followed by Ontario with 4.6 per cent and Alberta at 4.2 per cent. Nationally, the rate is now 3.3 per cent. Mixed marriages were most likely among ethnic Japanese – three quarters of their pairings included a non-Japanese partner. Latin Americans and blacks were next most likely to form a union outside their own culture. The phenomenon was least common among South Asians (12.7 per cent married nonSouth Asians) and Chinese (17.4 per cent). Nationally, the number of

mixed unions climbed by onethe city – now with 46 per cent third. counted as visible minority Demographers say it’s another – will likely also join the “visible example of our largely tolerant majority” ranks. society. Chinese Canadians More than 200 now make up 30 per different ethnicities cent of the populawere reported in the tion in Burnaby and count. Vancouver. “It’s an increasing Half of all South diversity of diverAsians in Metro Vansity,” said Urban couver live in Surrey, Futures demograpthe stats show, and her Andrew Ramlo. make up 27 per cent Visible minorities of that city’s populamade up nearly 42 tion, as well as 16 per per cent of Metro cent of Abbotsford’s. Vancouver’s populaFilipinos are B.C.’s tion in 2006. third largest visible The Chinese minority, making up population still grew nearly 8.7 per cent of fastest – by 11 per the population. Ramlo also noted cent from 2001-2006 Andrew Ramlo growing numbers of – but that was half each ethnic group the rate of growth are Canadian born of the previous five years. – 36 per cent of B.C.’s South Asians and a quarter of Visible “minorities” are now Chinese. a majority in Richmond – at 65 “People automatically think per cent – as well as in Burnaby (55 per cent) and Vancouver (51 immigrants,” he said. “But a per cent.) relatively good share are people actually born in Canada.” “Surrey is just a short, short step behind,” Ramlo said, noting

“People automatically think immigrants. But a relatively good share are people actually born in Canada.”

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More labour help B.C. to welcome more permanent residents in 2012 under the Provincial Nominee Program

Newcomer of note:

Raising a ruckus Broadcaster brought new edge to Punjabi radio

Black Press


he government of Canada will continue to provide B.C. with a record amount of space in the country’s immigration program in 2012, James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, announced earlier this month on behalf of Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism. In 2012, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) plans to welcome 42,00045,000 people under the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), including nominees themselves, their spouses and dependants. CIC is on track to welcome a record number of provincial nominees this year and could set another milestone in 2012 if provinces submit enough nominations early on to fill their allotted space in the program. B.C.’s proportion of nominations was 17 per cent this year. The PNP allotments for 2012 are still being finalized and will be released later. B.C.’s PNP has jumped more than eight-fold in recent years, from approximately 600 people admitted in 2004 to 4,900 people in 2010. Provincial nominees accounted for 16 per cent of economic class admissions and 11 per cent of total immigration to B.C. in 2010. “The government of Canada recognizes the valuable contributions of immigrants to British Columbia’s communities and economy,” said Moore. “We are committed to working with provinces and territories to meet local labour market needs.” Today, the PNP has become the second-largest source of economic immigration to Canada. The PNP gives provinces and territories an active role in immigrant selection by authorizing them to nominate for permanent residence individuals who meet specific local labour market needs. Each jurisdiction is responsible for the design and management of their respective program, including the development of nomination criteria. CIC conducted a national evaluation of the PNP last year and expects to release the results in 2012.

ping the film from the offending camera and Singh escorted the shaken BBC crew to safety. ournalist Harpreet Singh came to Surrey Then he went back to covering the story. after a colourful career as a newspaper His father, a brigadier-general in India, had reporter in India. some doubts about his youngest son’s choice The well-known broadcaster and talk of career. show host at Radio India first developed They had reached a compromise of sorts his rapid-fire interview where Singh would not follow his style as a reporter for the Hinfather into the military but would dustan Times of New Delhi, the instead study at university and largest English-language paper enter the civil service. in India with a circulation of His mother had to intercede 1.2 million and a reputation for when Singh switched to studying independent reporting. journalism instead. He was willing to work long It was more fun than managehours and had a habit of heading ment studies and it was a chance towards the sound of gunfire, to change things for the better, he covering the often-bloody fightsays. ing between government forces His father came around after and Sikh insurgents. reading Singh’s articles. Only once did he have a gun When Singh immigrated to Harpreet Singh pointed directly at him. Canada and couldn’t find a news“It was a misunderstanding,” he paper job, he quickly switched to says, during a secret meeting he radio, first at Radio Punjab. had brokered between a British news team and When he switched to Radio India, most some of the fighters. on-air debates in the South Asian community When one of the Brits tried to sneak some concerned events in India. photos, the furious gunmen drew their weapSingh, with the encouragement of the staons. tion’s owner, went after local B.C. stories. There was a moment, he says, when he wonPoliticians have learned to respond quickly dered whether that might be his last day. when Singh raises a ruckus about an issue. Fortunately, the gunmen settled for Black Press


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18 Surrey/North Delta Leader Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Living – and learning – in a new city Diversity in the classroom reflects the multicultural community around it by Sheila Reynolds


ou would hardly know it by speaking to her, but Navpreet Ghuman has only been living in Canada for about six months. Hailing from Haryana, a state in northern India bordering the Punjab region, the 17-year-old and her family moved to Surrey in April. “It’s not so difficult for me,” the smiling teen says of her transition to a new country and new home. “It’s really been easy for me.” Easing her adjustment is the fact that she already has a firm grasp of the English language for someone who’s only been in the country such a short time. Though her family speaks Punjabi at home, at school in India, all of Navpreet’s subjects were taught in English. Still, she says, she wasn’t able to hone her conversation skills because she and her friends didn’t speak English outside of the school’s walls. Now in Grade 11 at Frank Hurt Secondary, she takes English-as-a-Second Language (ESL) class instead of a regular high school English class, but all her other classes are with the rest of her peers and new friends. “Now, my English is much better,” says Navpreet, who also speaks Hindi. Speaking fluent English, 15-year-old Nicole Agpalo is in a similar position. Agpalo was born in the Philippines and lived there until about a year-anda-half ago before moving to Surrey. Her mom, dad and three siblings left their homeland in their search for “better living,” Nicole says, admitting she misses her homeland but is looking forward to exploring Canada. Navpreet Ghuman “I wanted a new experience,” she says. Like Navpreet, many of Agpalo’s school subjects in the Philippines were also delivered in English, so the language wasn’t new to her when she immigrated. Now in Grade 10 in Surrey, she is also in an ESL class to improve her Nicole Agpalo conversation skills

Fast facts about ESL:


There are approximately 14,870 English-as-a-Second-Language students in the Surrey School District. – and is taking a Spanish course as well. Some of her family still speaks Tagalog at home, but the teen is helping her dad with his English. The girls are just two of about 14,870 ESL students in the Surrey School District. With Surrey’s general enrolment growing at a steady pace – approximately 1,000 students per year – the diversity in the classroom is expected to continue to reflect that of the multicultural city around it. The most recent statistics show there are 114 languages other than English spoken in the home of students in the Surrey School District. The top ten are Punjabi, Hindi, Korean, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Mandarin, Chinese, Urdu, Spanish and Arabic. If current trends continue, there will be an estimated 134 languages represented by Surrey students by 2015. While a different language spoken at home doesn’t necessarily label a student an ESL learner, there are several elementary and high schools in the city where more than half the student population is from non-English-

speaking homes. About $15 million is alloforms to taking transit and finding a doctor cated to ESL programs by the Surrey School or other community resources. District this year. But often a parent’s first concern is Like all learners for whom English is not how they can get their children settled in their first language, new school. school-aged residents are While there are multicultural tested prior to enrolling at and settlement workers who ususchool to determine what ally work on-site in schools with level of language instruction students and staff, the Welcome or other unique assistance Centre functions as a hub for they require. staff and newcomers. About 8,000 While some are tested English Language Learner stuat their schools, many are dents and families are served at also evaluated at the English the Welcome Centre annually. Language Learner (ELL) WelStudents are assessed prior to come Centre, near 75 Avenue going to school, so that before Nicole Agpalo they arrive, there is time for and King George Boulevard, which opened in 2008. With school staff to prepare and coorstaff members who speak dinate any special support that more than two dozen lanparticular pupil may require. guages, the federally funded centre helps new So far, Navpreet and Nicole have everyCanadians – whether they be immigrants or thing they need. Almost. refugees – navigate their new lives, assisting Now they’d like to learn French. with everything from filling out government

■ ESL students are those whose primary language is not English, and who require additional services to help them reach their full potential.

Settlement workers in schools:

■ ESL is not an actual subject, but a transitional service where students are in the process of learning the language of instruction and, in many cases, the content matter of subjects appropriate to their grade levels.

■ Reach out to new arrivals, including visiting ‘hard to reach’ families. ■ Provide orientation about Canadian culture and services.

My mom, dad and three siblings left our homeland for “better living.”

■ Refer students or families to appropriate school and community programs. ■ Provide cultural interpretation and help school staff, parents and children communicate

Multicultural workers:

■ Facilitate communication between home and school. ■ Enhance cross-cultural understanding by providing information to schools about family/cultural background. ■ Assist school staff with conducting multicultural education activities.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011 Surrey/North Delta Leader 19


Ethnic pockets – support or segregation? Immigrants creating micro-communities not a new phenomenon by Tricia Leslie


ifferent parts of Surrey house different kinds of people. Most neighbourhoods have a mix of nationalities and races and a variety of beliefs and cultures. In some areas, however, people of the same ethnic backgrounds have settled together, creating ethnic neighbourhoods or pockets throughout Surrey. Surrey’s South Asian enclave, perhaps most obvious near the Scott Road Guru Nanak Sikh Temple, stretches from Strawberry Hill to Kennedy Heights, and from Bear Creek Park to Newton. Here, it is common to see men with turbans and women wearing colourful tunics and saris going about their business, with children and/or grandchildren in tow. Alongside big-box stores and franchise chains of restaurants, there are several South Asian business large and small, from jewelry stores to excellent South Asian restaurants. And if anyone was around this neighbourhood during the Stan-


ley Cup Playoffs earlier this year, they would have been impressed with the enthusiasm with which the entire community has embraced hockey culture and the Vancouver Canucks NHL team. In the Guildford area, Filipino residents are more noticeable, and other parts of Surrey are also emerging as areas where people of certain ethnic backgrounds are settling, such as Whalley, City Centre and central Newton, according to an Immigration Settlement Services of B.C. (ISSBC) report entitled Changing Faces, Changing Neighbourhoods. “People of the same background settling and forming ethnic ‘pockets’ is not new,” said ISSBC Settlement Services Department Director Chris Friesen. “Think Little Italy. Chinatown. It’s not a recent, contemporary phenomenon – it goes back to the same reasons as when immigrants first arrived in Canada, to create a community of support with the same cultures and values that will support you and your family as you settle.”

South Asian shops and restaurants abound along the Scott Road corridor.

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From 1975 to 1980, racism escalated. “Skinheads started attacking people,” Gill haran Gill came to Williams Lake said. “Rocks and eggs were being thrown at from Hong Kong in 1967. South Asian homes, in Delta and Surrey as He had worked two jobs in Hong well... some people were so afraid, they were Kong, as a banker and as a proofgoing to leave Surrey and go to Vancouver.” reader for the South China Morning Post. Gill decided something had to be done. Coming here as a skilled He helped put together the immigrant, he worked at a mill B.C. Organization to Fight in the northern B.C. city. Racism and Gill was elected When a newspaper story president. about a baby tossed in a dump“They asked me to take ster by a family who couldn’t the lead – nobody wanted to afford to raise the child caught take the lead because they his eye, he was driven to pursue were afraid of being killed by a career as a social worker and the KKK,” Gill said. “I was pursued an offer in Surrey. targeted already, so I said, ‘I’ll On arriving here, Gill was take the lead.’ ” armed with a variety of skills Soon after, he wanted to and a strong social conscience. help immigrants settle in But it was 1972 and a very Canada. different world than it is now. He founded the Progressive Charan Gill White supremacists were hitIntercultural Community Serting the airwaves denigrating vices Society (PICS) in 1987. people of colour in Canada. At the time, it was Gill and There were only 20 to 30 an assistant had $80 in operatIndo-Canadians living in Surrey at the time, ing funds. Gill recalled, and they were under attack. PICS now has 170 staff and an $8-million “David Duke came in from the KKK (Ku annual budget and offers programs includKlux Klan) and he preached hatred towards ing settlement, employment assistance, all immigrants, and even First Nations,” Gill housing and language services. said.

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Surrey: Leadership of the city is ‘amazing’ From page 19 Friesen says the same continues today, especially with people arriving from other countries as refugees, who often don’t have any money, literacy or language skills when they come to Canada. Between 2005 and 2009, the majority of Government Assisted Refugees (3,743 in Metro Vancouver) settled in Surrey (33 per cent), Burnaby (22 per cent) and Vancouver (16 per cent). The Karen and Somali people are increasing in number as choosing Surrey for their hometown, with the Karen most noticeable in the Whalley neighbourhood of 128 Street and 96 Avenue (Cedar Hills). Friesen said there are pros and cons to people of one background settling into the same general community. “On the pro side, it can make it easier to target newcomer communities and help newcomers integrate into Canadian life,” he said. “On the con side, there is the impact on the local school system, community centres,

infrastructure, etc. It can create significant challenges to local service providers and institutions. It can also create more marginalization... if we are not reaching out to them and they’re not using the resources available to them, it can lead to isolation and anxiety.” It is also important for newcomers to embrace Canadian culture as well as the culture of their home country, and living in an insulated enclave may not help with that integration, he noted. “It’s about how well we respond to these impacts,” he said. “The leadership the City of Surrey has shown in being a welcoming and inclusive society is amazing.” Friesen, along with other advocates who help newcomers settle in Surrey, is especially pleased with the city’s efforts to call on the federal government to end the need for Government Assisted Refugees to repay the interest-bearing transportation loans provided to them by the government, which can be as high as $10,000.


Above: Immigration Settlement Services of B.C. Settlement Services Department Director Chris Friesen. Below: Some examples of foreignlanguage signs in the city.


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22 Surrey/North Delta Leader Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Newcomer of note:


‘Proud to be a Canuck’


From rock anthems to O Canada “While I’ll always be an Englishman, Canada has given me so much for which I e’s well-known for belting out am grateful. the rock anthem “All Right Now” “My wife, your former Miss Canada with the British band Free, but Cynthia Kereluk, a new and extended famlast month in North ily and the chance to be truly Surrey, Paul Rodgers – the free in a country that with its platinum selling singer, songquiet strength combines the writer and musician who has best of so many worlds. performed in packed arenas “I’m proud to be a Canuck.” with the likes of Jimmy Page, Rodgers has been named Jeff Beck, Queen and more – number 55 on Rolling Stone thrilled a small crowd with a magazine’s list of the “100 heartfelt rendition of another Greatest Singers of All Time.” popular anthem. After forming Free in the On Oct. 26, after becomlate 1960s, Rodgers went ing a Canadian citizen at a on to form Bad Company, ceremony at the Central City which toured successfully tower, Rodgers led the group in the 1970s and early ’80s of other newcomers in the with such hits as Feel Like Paul Rodgers singing of O Canada. Making Love, Can’t Get More than 100 new citizens Enough and Shooting Star. from 30 different countries Rodgers lives in the took part in the annual ceremony. Crescent Beach area of South Surrey “It may not be my native land but and has called Canada home for about Canada is surely now my home,” Rodgers 14 years. said. Black Press

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24 Surrey/North Delta Leader Tuesday, November 22, 2011


A safe haven from hardship 36% of Canada’s Government Assisted Refugees choose Surrey as their new home by Tricia Leslie


he sits cross-legged on the floor playing with her two-year-old son in the childcare centre, surrounded by colourful blocks and boxes, paints and toys. Shouts, laughter and the sounds of other youngsters playing with their parents and grandparents fill the room at a regular dropin at Surrey’s UMOJA Compassion Society – bells, whistles, music, joyful yells and the occasional unhappy wail. Some adults chat quietly amongst themselves and several different languages can be heard, as UMOJA helps new immigrants to Canada settle into their new lives in Surrey. Amid the cheerful play, clutter and noise, Shell Aye patiently hands her son, Ehtawnee Oo, the toy he is after. Just last year, Aye, her husband Mya Oo, and their son came to Canada for a better life, as Government Assisted Refugees (GARs), to escape the refugee camps and violence in Myanmar (Burma), which shares a border with Thailand, where they came from. Aye and her family are Karen, a SinoTibetan language-speaking people who live mainly in southern and southeast Myanmar and Thailand. Many Karen refugee camps dot western Thailand’s border with Myanmar, with most refugees being forced to flee their homes because of the violence and human rights abuses in Myanmar. Life in Canada, although still challenging, is much better than struggling to survive in Thai refugee camps, Aye said. “In Burma there was so much fighting, so much war, all the time,” she said, speaking English precisely but sometimes searching for the right word. (Aye keeps a notebook and pencil on hand at all times, to write down new English words she doesn’t understand and wants to learn). “In Canada, everything is good and everything is clean. I like the law – it is a democratic society and I am glad we are here.” Life in Myanmar and Thailand was much different. Every day was a struggle to survive – a struggle to find enough food and water


each day, and not being able to leave the refugee camps to do so. There was no way to look for jobs or to make money while in a refugee camp; finding enough clothes for the family to wear was difficult. “Life in Canada is so easy,” Aye said with a smile, when talking about hot showers or washers and dryers for doing laundry. “I used to have to clean clothes by hand, in the river. All the water – for drinking, for cooking, for laundry, for bathing – came from the nearest stream.” Aye and her family are among many GARs who choose Canada as their new country and Surrey as their new home. According to the city, 299 GARs settled in Surrey in 2009 (36 per cent of all GARs arriving in Metro Vancouver) and in 2010, 212 GARs settled in the city (36 per cent again). Aye’s husband Mya Oo works at a potato farm and Aye has already worked at one job, but hopes to put her green thumb to use earning a living as a greenhouse gardener, working with the flowers and plants she loves. The couple also has a son to raise – he will learn English and the Karen language, Aye said – and other challenges, but compared to what their daily life used to be, they much prefer Canada, which they chose because some of their relatives and neighbours are already here. “My first year here I was very cold – I wore three jackets!” Aye said. She loves the mountains, but misses the bamboo, and said noodles are her favourite food, along with many vegetables. But some food... not so much. “I smelled a smell and someone told me it was pizza? The smell was not good to me,” she said, wrinkling her nose, but it quickly returns to her natural, friendly smile. “Everyone has been nice. I like living here and want to stay here.”

Shell Aye, 23, and her son Ehtawnee, 2, are Karen refugees who came to Surrey to escape violence and the refugee camps in Myanmar (Burma).

Settling in Surrey – immigrant services help Starting a new life can be exciting, but also stressful and overwhelming by Tricia Leslie


mmigrating to a new country is likely an exhilarating experience. But it can also be scary and difficult, especially if you don’t know the language or customs or even how to use everyday devices and appliances you’ve never seen before. “It can be extremely overwhelming,” said Amos Kambere, who founded UMOJA Operation Compassion Society in 2002 with his wife, Edith. “They come from villages or refugee camps – an uneducated life. There is no electricity or running water or even telephones.” That’s why UMOJA was founded – to help new African immigrants and other minorities integrate into their new community. The organization offers a wide range of programs and services for newcomers to B.C., with help from all levels of government as well as sponsors. Staff members run programs at the UMOJA newcomer family services centre in Surrey six days a week, including ESL (English as a Second Language) and life skills classes, parent-child drop-ins, youth and children’s programs

attends programs to learn English and life skills – and to such as Homework Club, conversation classes and sewing classes. Child-minding and bus passes are provided for volunteer. Bundled up in a black winter coat and warm gloves, those who need them. Kambere, who immigrated to Canada from Uganda in Mbambu admitted with a wide smile that she has never 1992, said newcomers to the country seen snow but is looking forward to the experience. are first taught the basics (if needed), such as what a telephone is and how So far, people have been friendly to her but she misses her home to use it, emergency numbers, and other skills that most people take for country’s warm climate. granted, before they start on ESL and “It is so cold here,” she said, clapping her gloved hands together. other related skills, such as using a computer. Cradling a doll used by youngsters in UMOJA’s childcare centre, When immigrants have built up their language capability, UMOJA Mbambu said she hopes to evenhelps them on the job hunt, from how tually work with kids and loves volunteering with them at UMOJA, to search for jobs to getting Social but needs to improve her language Insurance Numbers to preparing Amos Kambere resumes. skills first. One new Surrey resident who is She likes many of the luxuries Canadians enjoy every day, including clean running working toward finding a job is Juliette Mbambu, 20, who immigrated to Canada from Uganda just two months water, and some foods she never got to try in Uganda. ago. She is being sponsored by a family here that she See FUTURE / Page 25 knew back home, and found help at UMOJA, where she

“They come from villages or refugee camps – an uneducated life. There is no electricity or running water or even telephones.”

Tuesday, November 22, 2011 Surrey/North Delta Leader 25


Future: ‘Depends on immigration’

Resources include:

From page 24

■ Citizenship and Immigration Canada Coming to Canada online info package, Living in Canada info packages, resources, links, etc.

“I like apples. The red ones. They are so sweet,” she said, noting she had never tried an apple before she came to Canada. ‘But I miss beans. The beans here are not the same (as in Uganda)... there are no fresh beans.” Kambere is proud of the many services UMOJA offers but said that of course, with additional funding, more could be done to help new Canadians settle in Surrey. At the Immigration Services Society of B.C., now the largest multicultural immigrantserving society in western Canada, ISSBC Settlement Services Department director Chris Friesen said government started investing more in such services about four to five years ago, in response to growing numbers of immigrants settling in Surrey. But he doesn’t deny that more funding is always welcome and the need is on the rise. “Immigrants play a vital role in B.C. and Surrey and this role will only increase,” Friesen said. “Our future depends on immigration. How well we support and integrate our immigrants into the community and the labour market will determine our own success.” In 2006, the city’s immigrant population was 150,230, or 38 per cent of the then-total population of 394,976. With Surrey’s current total population at more than 462,000 and with 800 to 1,000 people (immigrants and nonimmigrants) moving to the city each month, both Kambere and Friesen noted that Surrey already does a fairly good job supporting immigration, with initiatives such as the city’s multiculturalism committee, intended to build a more welcoming and inclusive society.

■ Welcome BC Provincial government online resource ■ Immigration Services Society of B.C. 604-684-2561 Surrey office (multilingual employment resource centre): 604-595-4021 ■ UMOJA Operation Compassion Society 10025 Whalley Blvd. 604-581-5574 www. ■ PICS – Progressive Intercultural Community Services Society


UMOJA Operation Compassion Society founder Amos Kambere with Juliette Mbambu, who immigrated to Canada from Uganda just two months ago. Staff members run programs at the UMOJA newcomer family services centre in Surrey six days a week, including ESL (English as a Second Language) and life skills classes, parent-child drop-ins, youth and children’s programs such as Homework Club, conversation classes and sewing classes.

■ DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society 604-597-0205 #1107-7330 137 St., Surrey ■ SUCCESS #206-10090 152 St. 604-588-6869

26 Surrey/North Delta Leader Tuesday, September 22, 2011


Newcomer of note: Tako van Popta, Managing Partner

From small store to $100M in sales Fruiticana owner found success in fresh produce Singh would visit farms in the Fraser Valley searching for the freshest produce. He would also import products from India, Pakistan, Thailand, Dubia, Australia and the Philippines. Realizing he was on to something, Singh opened a second outlet in Richmond less than a year later. Eight years later, Fruiticana was doing business in Alberta, where there are currently two stores in Calgary and another in Edmonton. The company now does more than $100 million in sales annually, and its success has been recognized. Singh has won the Surrey Board of Trade’s Businessperson of the Year Award, and a Cultural Diversity Award from the SurreyDelta Immigration Services Society. Fruiticana also gives back to the community, staffing the annual telethon for B.C. Children’s Hospital.

by Rick Kupchuk

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hinking that running a small produce store would provide a decent living, Tony Singh had no idea what he would be starting. The president of Fruiticana oversees 13 stores in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley, as well as another three in Alberta, stocking fresh fruit grown locally as well as specialty products from around the world. Singh was born in India, but his family moved to Montreal when he was 10. The family Tony Singh came to Surrey in 1992, and two years later, Singh opened his first Fruiticana store in Newton with himself, his father and one employee making up the staff. Long days lay ahead, with duties including cleaning, banking and purchasing the produce.


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Tuesday, November 22, 2011 Surrey/North Delta Leader 27


Career challenges Many new immigrants have difficulty finding work in their chosen professions by Rick Kupchuk


anada is viewed by many as a land of opportunity and equality. But for new immigrants seeking work here, it doesn’t always work out that way. Having a solid work history, or a university degree, doesn’t guarantee immediate employment in a chosen profession. In many cases, it’s not enough for a job at all, and many newcomers to Canada find themselves in that distressing situation. “They come to this country with experience, a degree or other credentials and expect they will get jobs in their area of training,” said Satbir Cheema, director of employment programs and planning with PICS (Progressive Intercultural Community Services Society), adding that “quite a few” immigrants are surprised to find they are suddenly not qualified to continue in their profession. “Canada has its own requirements in regulated professions, particularly in health, engineering and education,” Cheema said. But while the odds are stacked against them, they are not impossible to overcome. And sometimes, it all comes down to chance. “It often depends on who they meet, or if they have family when they get here,” said Cheema. “If they go to a resource centre and get guidance, they navigate the process quite easily. There are quite a few courses set up by the government to upgrade skills and meet the requirements to get work in their profession.” Many will accept jobs as labourers, which isn’t a bad thing, Cheema noted. “They end up in jobs requiring less skills than what they are trained to do. But that’s better than sitting

around in depression. It’s better they learn the Canadian way of life and work by interacting. “And some will work in a warehouse to support a spouse who is upgrading his or her skills.” But even after going through the process to meet Canadian standards, the lack of work experience in this country is a second barrier. A 2008 Statistics Canada report stated “42 per cent of immigrant workers aged 25 to 54 had a higher level of education for their job than what was normally required, while 28 per cent of Canadian-born workers were similarly over-qualified. Regardless of period of landing, immigrants had higher shares of overqualification.” The report also noted immigrants tend to earn less than Canadian-born workers, with 45.5 per cent of all landed immigrants earning $10-20 per hour, compared to 38 per cent of all Canadian-born workers. The number is higher among recent arrivals (in Canada for less than five years), with 52.8 per cent in the $10-20 bracket, a number that drops to 42.4 per cent among those in the country for more than 10 years. Cheema said making it easier for immigrants to upgrade their credentials and work would be of benefit to workers and their chosen country. “Some programs are available only to people on EI (employment insurance),” he said. “They should be made available to new immigrants as well, people who will take a job short term then go on EI to qualify for the program. It’s a waste of time, and doesn’t add anything to the economy. “It’s a loss to the Canadian economy when these immigrants can’t work in areas where they are trained.”


Satbir Cheema, director of employment programs and planning with the Progressive Intercultural Community Services Society, helps newcomers find meaningful work.


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28 Surrey/North Delta Leader Tuesday, November 22, 2011



Above: New Canadian citizens share a laugh during proceedings at a recent citizenship ceremony in Surrey. Among those sworn in were (below left) Surrophine Chambers and (below right) Shih Chen Huang.

Becoming Canadian – a long process Processing time can take anywhere from 70 days to 49 months, depending on the type of application by Tricia Leslie


he red maple leaf represents so much to so many. For those immigrating to Canada from other countries, the symbol on the country’s flag can mean freedom from oppression, or freedom to freely express one’s thoughts, or the right to follow – or not follow – any religion one chooses. Canada also represents opportunities for many: to work, study, travel, learn or to join family members who are already settled in the country. To become a Canadian citizen, according to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), an applicant must follow these steps: • Determine if you are eligible to become a citizen; • Apply for citizenship; • Take the citizenship test, if you are between the ages of 18 and 54; and • Attend a citizenship ceremony, if you are 14 or older. Anyone who applies for Canadian citizenship must be at least 18 years old; to apply for citizenship for a child under 18, certain conditions must be met, such as one parent being a Canadian citizen, or applying to be one at the same time. Applicants must have permanent residential status in Canada and that status cannot be in doubt. Adults must have lived in Canada for at least three of the past four years before applying; have adequate knowledge of English or French; not have any criminal history prohibitions; and must also demonstrate they understand the rights and responsibilities of Canadian citizenship. People already living in Canada may choose to apply to live in Canada permanently under several statuses, from Federal Skilled Worker Class to Canadian Experience Class, an application for temporary workers and graduates with Canadian credentials who are already in Canada and wish to apply for permanent residence. Those living outside Canada can apply to immigrate to Canada permanently under several classes as well, from

Skilled Worker Class, Canadian Experience Class (CEC), Business Class, Family Class and Provincial Nominees to humanitarian-designated classes (such as those applying for refugee status). A Quebec-selected skilled worker category allows people who have been selected by the Quebec government to settle and work in Quebec, while the CEC allows people who have recent Canadian work experience or have graduated and recently worked in Canada a chance to immigrate. Investors, entrepreneurs and self-employed people can apply under a different economic class if they want to start a business in Canada, each with different criteria (i.e. investors must show they have business experience, a minimum, legal net worth of $1.6 million and make an $800,000 investment

that CIC will return, without interest, about five years after payment). When applicants decide how they’ll apply to become a citizen of Canada, they must fill out an application package, include any required supporting documents and pay all related application/processing fees, which vary from $75 to more than $1,000 depending on the age and category/class the person is applying under. Processing time – including the assessment of any sponsors – can take anywhere from 70 days to 14 months to 49 months, according to CIC, depending on the type of application (i.e. whether it’s an economic class application or a family class sponsorship). For more information, visit

Tuesday, November 22, 2011 Surrey/North Delta Leader 29


Newcomer of note:

Could you pass the quiz?

Filipino fun

Newcomers tested on knowledge of Canada by Tricia Leslie


ne of the basic requirements of citizenship is for newcomvers to show they have adequate knowledge of Canada. The citizenship test is used to assess knowledge of Canada and the rights and responsibilities of being a citizen in Canada. The questions below are similar to the questions that are found on the citizenship test. Test your knowledge against what new Canadians have to learn to pass the citizenship test. (The correct answers are highlighted in red).

What are three responsibilities of citizenship? a. Being loyal to Canada, recycling newspapers, serving in the navy, army or air force. b. Obeying the law, taking responsibility for oneself and one’s family, serving on a jury. c. Learning both official languages, voting in elections, belonging to a union. d. Buying Canadian products, owning your own business, using less water. What is the meaning of the Remembrance Day poppy? a. To remember our Sovereign, Queen Elizabeth II. b. To celebrate Confederation. c. To honour prime ministers who have died. d. To remember the sacrifice of Canadians who have served or died in wars up to the present day.

How are Members of Parliament chosen? a. They are appointed by the United Nations. b. They are chosen by the provincial premiers. c. They are elected by voters in their local constituency (riding). d. They are elected by landowners and police chiefs. Other study questions (answers can be found in the citizenship study guide Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship online at Citizenship Guide, online at english/resources/publications/discover/ index.asp): • Name two key documents that contain our rights and freedoms. • Identify four rights that Canadians enjoy. • Name four fundamental freedoms that Canadians enjoy? • What is meant by the equality of women and men? • What are some examples of taking responsibility for yourself and your family? • Who were the founding peoples of Canada? • Who are the Métis? • What does the word “Inuit” mean? • What is meant by the term “responsible government”? • Name two Canadian symbols. • What provinces are sometimes referred to as the Atlantic Provinces?

Diversity = Enrichment

Busy volunteer celebrates her roots “We love the noise I guess.” She started the independence day event when she realized there were urrey’s growing Filipino com- 17,000 Filipinos in Surrey and there munity has a strong champion in was no good reason for them to go to Narima Dela Cruz. Vancouver to celebrate. The mom and local realtor “I thought ‘Why not bring it to founded the Surrey PhilSurrey?’ So that’s how it lipine Independence Day started.” Society, which hosts an The three-year-old gathannual celebration of their ering has become so big it homeland’s independence now happens at Holland each year in June. Park. She was partly inspired Lately, the organizaby the annual Folkorama tion has been branching multicultural festival in out into other assistance Winnipeg, where she first services or events to help lived when she immiFilipino immigrants and grated to Canada from the seniors. Phillipines in 1998. “I always have a soft spot A few years later Dela for the new immigrants Cruz moved with her husbecause I know how hard band to the West Coast it is for them to start,” she Narima Dela Cruz and they have lived in said. “I want them to feel Surrey since 2005. they belong and that they “I just like it here – I have a welcoming gesture feel at home,” she said. here, some company that belongs to Like many other Filiipinos in Surrey, the same culture.” they live in Guildford. Dela Cruz was recognized for her “We love being in an urbanized volunteer efforts with an honourable environment, where the mall is, where mention in the Leader’s 2011 Commuthe traffic is – we’re used to that,” Dela nity Leader Awards. Cruz said. by Jeff Nagel


Home is where the Heart is.

Approximately 45 per cent of students attending school in the district are from a household in which a language other than English is spoken. We’re proud to have a rich mosaic of cultures represented within our student population and we are committed to ensuring a positive school experience for all our students.

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30 Surrey/North Delta Leader Tuesday, November 27, 2011


Newcomer of note:

Having a ball in Surrey CFL all-star excels on the field and in the community by Rick Kupchuk

finished second all-time in receptions with 185, and receiving yards with or more than a decade, Geroy Simon 2,059. has been catching passes from B.C. After a two-year stint in Manitoba, Lions quarterbacks. playing for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, And recently, he’s Simon tried to earn a roster been doing a little more. spot with the Kansas City Simon and fellow B.C. Chiefs of the National FootLion Barron Miles are ball League. members of the Cloverdale He was cut in the sumCommunity Football mer of 2001, and joined the Association, coaching Lions for the last half of the their sons and close to 30 season, playing as a backup other young children with in six games. In his first full the Cloverdale Bobcats season in 2002, he led the team in the Pee Wee diviteam with 50 receptions, he sion of the Vancouver start of a career that would Minor Football Associasee him finish the curtion. rent season ranked second A year-round resident of all-time in receiving yards Surrey, Simon also partici- Geroy Simon (just 66 yards away from pates in several commuthe career record), fifth in nity programs run by the pass receptions and third in B.C. Lions, including Lions Pride, Lions touchdown receptions. in the Hour, and Read, Write and Roar. He has been a CFL all-star five times, Born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania in and won the 2006 CFL Most outstand1975, Simon went on to play football at ing Player award. the University of Maryland, where he


Coverage You Can Count On


All smiles

A new Canadian citizen can’t hide her happiness during an official ceremony in Surrey last month.



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urre scccho urrey ools win C. ttitles ADERR EAD THEE LEA SEAL / TH

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VAN EVAN wn ow own d dow stepped forr has steppe r to run rals vin Falcon als. ministe B.C. Libera he B.C s health of the hip eaders

Wednesd We W

De ecem e mber 1, 2010 m Servvvi ving i Surrrrey r and

om surreyleader.c

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y ncy ncy en ency mergen Em Emergenc me ome come co New & Wel Welcom ay tie rda rday urday Patients turda tur atur Sat Satu Saturda Satur Bu Bui Building cee Build

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& a le abl able ening ts availa available Evening ents availabl ments appointmen

Liberal leadership by Jeff ff Nagel KEVIN FALCON

Judges are co

l i


Cloverdale MLA unveils key allies

Falcon to run for

ner status in thetook over frontrunship race, with atB.C. Liberal leaderbacking his bid least 10 MLAs to Campbell as party replace Gordon leader and B.C.’s next premier. He didn’t roll in on his tradem m k

Tuesday, November 22, 2011 Surrey/North Delta Leader 31


Canadian Tire Stores Our Faces… Canadian Tire is proud to do business in the community of Surrey. We make a commitment to this vibrant city to provide support to local organizations as well as through Canadian Tire sponsored initiatives.

the Surrey Food Bank, along with two vehicles over the past years - striving to make their jobs helping the needy, easier! Canadian Tire Stores have created over 400 jobs for Surrey residents. Our stores carry products that every household needs. We carry Environmental Safe products which support City Initiatives and Bylaws.

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32 Surrey/North Delta Leader Tuesday, November 22, 2011


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