Page 1

Fe b r u a r y 2 0 0 8 •

Vo l u m e 1 • I s s u e 4 • w w w. t h e vo i ce i n d i • 905.920.1752




“Using the power of the pen to facilitate smooth integration for immigrants into the Canadian society.”

Diversity in the Workplace


your organization inclusive of racial minorities at all levels? This is a mind bogging question for each and every organization in Canada, and especially in Hamilton to provide honest answers to. Key players in Hamilton’s political, social, economic, academic, and cultural sectors gathered January 24th 2008 at the LI-

UNA Station in Hamilton to participate in Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion (HCCI) ‘Second Business Forum’ entitled “Diversity: Benefits & Challenges presented by Frances L. Tuer, a PHD candidate from McMaster University. It was a fact filled presentation of the challenges and benefits of making organizations more diversity fo-

Black History Month Celebrations

For Blacks:


We celebrate to let our children know they are descendants of great people who left the bondage and scars of slavery and colonialism, bowed, but not broken.

We celebrate to remind ourselves and others of the overwhelming odds that Blacks have overcome to be where they are today.

We celebrate because we want to showcase the achievements of the Black race.

We celebrate because it is an opportunity to share with others our beautiful history, languages, and religions.

We celebrate because we are proud of our heritage as proud, resourceful and talented people. We celebrate because we want to encourage our children to believe in them-

cused. Guest speaker Frances Tuer shared her research findings regarding diversity management in organizations. Some of her research findings show that 85% of Canadian organizations indicated diversity is a priority in their organization, while in fact, only 21% feel the culture of their organization is inclusive. 58% have a stra-

tegic plan for diversity management; less than 40% require employees to participate in diversity training; and only 24% provide incentives and rewards to managers for reaching diversity goals. What these staggering facts show is that diversity is not ∞ continued on page 

In Remembrance of the Holocaust On January 27, 2006, then UN SecretaryGeneral Kofi Annan made the following statement: “There can be no reversing the unique tragedy of the Holocaust. It must be remembered, with shame and horror, for as long as human memory continues. Only by remembering can we pay fitting tribute to the victims. Millions of innocent Jews and members of other minorities were murdered in the most barbarous ways imaginable. We must never forget those men, women and children, or their agony.” A Brief Introduction to the Holocaust Around 1933 to 1945, the Nazi German government tried to veliminate the Jewish people and other minority groups

in Europe. The Nazis killed over 5 million Jews, including 1.5 million children. There were approximately 3 million Jews left in Europe out of the over 9 million ∞ continued on page 

MOTHER - AFRICA Africa is a vast continent blessed with natural resources and rich cultural heri∞ continued on page 

The History of Valentine’s Day Valentine’s Day as we know it today, has had many influences, some pagan, some Christian, and some overwhelmingly cultural. The celebration of love for the sake of love, with its symbols of Cupid’s arrows, red roses and Valentine’s Day cards, evolved slowly over the last 2,500 years. Historically, Valentine’s Day celebration is traced back to the ‘Feast of Lupercal’, cec∞ continued on page 10

International Mother Language Day February 21st has been proclaimed as International Mother Language Day by UNESCO in 1999. Since 2000, it has been observed throughout the world to promote linguistic and cultural diversity. Now the question is why has February 21st been chosen? Let us get back to the background of February 21st – the language movement of Bangladesh. In brief, when India gained independence from British

rule in1947, it was divided into two states – India and Pakistan. Pakistan had two wings – East and West Pakistan. The majority of people in East Pakistan speak Bengali (Bangla) whereas most people in West Pakistan speak Urdu. Since the birth of Pakistan, the rulers of Pakistan who were predominantly from West Pakistan motioned to colonize the people of East Pakistan ∞ continued on page 10

Advertise with us Feedbacks We Need Your

Feb 2008 • Volume 1 • Issue 4

Call 905.920.1752

w w w.thevoiceindiasp

...continued from page 

In Remembrance of the Holocaust

...continued from page 

Black History Month Celebrations tage. WHERE THE JOURNEY BEGAN: THE SLAVE TRADE The Slave Trade started in Africa around the 600s and was by all accounts extraordinarily divisive, destructive and devastating. Historical reports attribute internal slavery to various perpetrators such as the freedom traders who had to move within the continent, to the collusion of political elites (selling slaves for their own gain), and to economic distress such as drought and famine. Over time, millions of Africans were transported as slaves. Approximately 7.5 million were transported across the Sahara, the northern route, 10 million in the trans-Atlantic trade and about 5 million to the east across the Indian Ocean. The slave trade was motivated by mainly “push” and “pull” factors. The demands of the plantation owners in the Americas (the “pull”) and the human misery and social dislocation in West Africa (the “push”) helped drive the trade, particularly in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. It is estimated that 80% of the slaves were transported between 1701 and 1850. Slavery disintegrated many societies within the African Continent, while others were severely destabilized. Some scholars propose that the spread of disease became more prevalent and destructive. By the 19th century, the slave trade was suppressed and “legitimate” commerce expanded. There was a growing interest in Africa, among Westerners and Europeans. A number of European explorers travelled to Africa to “discover” it. Europeans began ethnographic studies. Christian missionaries began spreading through Africa. It was an opportunity to rebuild disintegrating social structures and “organize and discipline the Africans”. The African sense

of hospitality enabled scientists, missionaries and traders to move relatively freely into the interior regions. After mid-century, European commerce with sub-Saharan Africa changed. Prices declined and African middlemen were squeezed out. They began looking to education as a way of finding a place in the new structure. The “scramble for Africa” simply completed and fixed a long process of influence, change, and disruption. COLONIALISM

countries, but to assume subordinate positions in the colonial system. The Europeans established an export economy that extracted raw materials and returned manufactured goods. Trade was oriented toward the metropolis. The economic advantages accrued mainly to Europeans. This economy was developed at the expense of indigenous populations. The Whites expropriated vast areas of the best farm land. African farmers could not compete with the large commercial White farms and many were often forced into wage labour. It created a dependency which in most countries still persists. Hence, the term “neo-colonialism”. The legacy of colonialism continues to contribute significantly to the instability and fragility of the African Continent.

Colonialism was a racially based (or racist) system of political, economic, and cultural domination forcibly imposed by a technologically superior foreign minority on an indigenous majority. It relied on “scientific” assumptions about White superiority. It assumed an innate moral inferiority of AfWestern hemisphere economies were ricans. Essentially, colonialism depended built through the forced unpaid labour on economic exploitation and political of Blacks. Slavery is a subject that many oppression. There were several different people rarely discuss because it evokes kinds of colonial organization: White setan array of emotions such as pain, despair, tler colonies (Kenya and Southern Rho-...continued from page  anger and shame. However, it needs to be desia [Zimbabwe]); Indirect Rule Colonies discussed as it shows man’s inhumanity to (Nigeria and Botswana) and Direct Rule man. Blacks should never be ashamed of Colonies (Senegal). The direct and indirect the history of slavery; instead, they should rule systems relied heavily on traditional African rulers. They were not organized celebrate the sweetness of freedom won to develop (even over time) independent by people who persevered even in the face of brutality. African nation-states. Food for thought: African countries The degree of colonization and its impact are today paying more money every year differed from place to place. The colonizin debt service payments to the IMF and ers were limited to small numbers of adWorld Bank than it receives in loans from ministrators, traders, and missionaries. them, thereby often depriving the inhabitFor instance, in Northern Nigeria, there ants of those countries from actual neceswas one white administrator for every sities. 100,000 Africans. Only 5% of the Africans were educated in missionary schools. They received a western style education, not in order to become leaders of their own

■ (Contributed by Veronica Chris-Ike)


The Voice in Diaspora P.O. Box 417 Hamilton, Ontario Tel: 905.920.1752 - Fax: 905.769.5483

Our Mission Using the power of the pen to facilitate smooth integration for immigrants into the Canadian society.

Publisher/Editor Veronica Chris-Ike

Art & Creative Design Jihan Aydin www . A4AMEDIA . com

Advertising & Marketing Contact Us @ 905.920.1752 or via

Contributors Philip U. Okpala, Veronica Chris-Ike, Sayed M. Tora SISO (Settlement and Integration Services Organization)

Publication will be done Monthly. Free copies will be distributed to businesses, shopping malls, churches, Non-profit organizations, adult learning centers, etc, in Hamilton and environs. The Voice in Diaspora Newspaper is published and distributed monthly free of charge. The views expressed by writers do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Voice in Diaspora Newspaper. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without prior permission is prohibited. The Voice in Diaspora Newspaper is not responsible for the accuracy of information provided by

Here we are again for another edition of immigrants’ and visible minorities’ favourite newspaper. The Voice in Diaspora Newspaper and SISO are keen to ensure important issues affecting integration of immigrants in our community are addressed using this medium. We are more inspired than ever to bring quality information to your homes, businesses and offices that would inform and educate you about happenings in and around our community. SISO as a visionary organization is totally committed to the settlement and integration of new comers in our community. This they successfully do through the various programs and services they make available to new comers. Starting from this February issue, SISO’s activities and programs would be an insert inside the Voice in Diaspora Newspaper. Thus, you are not only reading the Voice in Diaspora Newspaper to know what is happening in Hamilton and environs, but also, you are being connected to quality services in our community, courtesy of SISO. A look at the themes for this month’s publication shows quite a wide range of topics. The themes were carefully chosen to cover most of the important public celebrations for the month of February. Some of which are: The Black History Month; Remembrance of the Jewish Holocaust; Valentine’s Day celebration, International Mother Language Day, amongst others. However, in the midst of our celebrations, let us reflect on the real meanings and importance of these events. It is important to remember what happened in the past, so that future occurrence of same ugly experiences would be averted. Also, we are once again touching on the issue of immigration strategy for the city of Hamilton. We deemed this issue very important, not only for the interest of immigrants residing here in Hamilton, but also for the overall good and benefit of the entire city. We want the city of Hamilton to act now. For the ‘Personality profile, we carefully selected Dr. Gary Warner, a renowned Canadian. He talked to The Voice in Diaspora about his life, career, and the black history month celebration. It is an interesting read. Finally, it is our mission to serve you better. Hence, we solicit your opinions and advices on how to make this newspaper better serve your needs. Thanks Veronica Chris-Ike

(Publisher/Editor) “The Voice in Diaspora Newspaper”

Morteza Jafarpour

(Executive Director) Settlement and Integration Services Organization

who lived there before the Holocaust. As soon as Hitler took power in 1933, the German government passed laws to remove Jewish people’s rights as citizens. Ultimately, in German-occupied Europe, the Jews were forced by law to live in specific zones within the cities, called ghettos. From there, the Nazis moved many Jews to labour camps and death camps. In addition to Jewish people, the Nazis targeted other minority groups. This included Gypsies, the disabled, political dissidents, Jehovah Witnesses, male homosexuals, and Soviet prisoners of war. In December of 1942, a single Nazi decree ordered Gypsies from all over Europe to be deported to the death camp in Auschwitz. When they arrived, 16,000 were immediately murdered. Throughout the Holocaust, the Nazis killed about 5 million non-Jews. These crimes finally ended when American troops overpowered the Nazis in the year 1945. Many of the survivors were forced to go to Displaced Persons camps because their homes and families had been destroyed. Children were hidden in orphanages throughout Europe, while their surviving relatives struggled to find them. The world has attempted to punish many of the Nazi war criminals. Many were tried during the Nuremberg Trials. However, some of these Nazi officials are still in hiding today. It is estimated that 3 million European Jews survived the Holocaust. The survivors can be grouped into three categories: the over 75,000 who survived the concentration camps; those who lived in hiding or used false identity papers to pretend they were not Jewish; and those who fought in the woods with partisan and guerrilla groups. After the war was over, the largest part of these survivors immigrated to Israel, and over 92,000 survivors emigrated to the United States and other parts of the world. They have attempted to rebuild their lives, and to pass along to the rest of the world the lessons they have learned from the Holocaust. ■

...continued from page 

Diversity in the Workplace yet a priority for many organizations in Canada. The changing immigration patterns; aging Canadian workforce, and decline in birth rates in this country are witnessing a tremendous change that will see minorities as majorities in Canadian work force in the near future. There is need now for a change in employment policies that would prevent serious catastrophic employment issues in many organizations who are presently resistant to ideas of inclusive organization. Some dignitaries that attended the business forum include, the Mayor of Hamilton Fred Eisenberger, Joseph Mancinelli,Vice-President LIUNA International; Jo-Anne Priel, Director Community Services Department of City of Hamilton, amongst others. Each spoke in support of minority inclusion into key sectors in our community. For them, allowing immigrants to use their talents where they are needed simply make good business better. (See Page 11 for Photos) ■

the advertisers & contributors.

w w w.thevoiceindiasp

Feb 2008 • Volume 1 • Issue 4

‘We may be underestimating the diversity of the black population in Hamilton – this is not a homogenous group’ ] Co-chaired the Advisory Committee for the Civic Centre project.

Highlights of Dr. Gary Warner’s biography: ] Retired McMaster Professor - 39 years career as professor of French African and Caribbean 17th-Century literature, as well as peace and international development at McMaster. ] Recipient - Hamilton Black History Month J.C. Holland Award 1998 ] Recipient - World Citizenship Award from the Hamilton Mundialization Committee, 2002 (jointly with wife) ] Recipient - McMaster Students Union Lifetime Achievement Award, 2004 ] Recipient – Order of Canada 2005 ] Recipient – Hamilton’s Citizen of the year, 2006 ] Inducted into Hamilton Gallery of Distinction, 2006 ] Champion of human rights, equity and social justice ] Past Board Chairman SISO ] Past Chair - Working Committee of the Strengthening Hamilton’s Community Initiative. ] International assignments – CUSO (Sierra Leone)



You are a black person, a minority residing in Canada for many years, you have had your struggles (or still having them), and many successes. Tell me about yourself, with central focus on how the journey began for you and how you reached where you are presently.


Originally from Trinidad, I went to France in 1960 on a French government scholarship. After completing my university studies in France, where I lived for seven years, I emigrated to Canada to take up a position in the French department at McMaster University. An experience I had within 10 days of my arrival in Hamilton sensitized me to the existence of racism in Canada. My wife and I went to view an apartment in Dundas, just opposite the University Plaza, and were promised the apartment. Half an hour later we received a telephone call, telling us that the apart-

Hamilton’s Centre for Civic Inclusion – (HCCI) Strengthening Our Community Hamilton’s Centre for Civic Inclusion (HCCI) is a community-based network, mobilizing all Hamiltonians to create an inclusive city, free of racism and hate. HCCI will assist the City, major institutions, business, service providers, and others to initiate and sustain transformative processes to create racism-free and inclusive environments. It will develop and share training and education resources, and enable easier access to relevant research and information. HCCI will also be a source of support and information to newcomer immigrant and refugee communities, diverse ethnoracial and ethno-cultural groups and Aboriginal communities. It will help build community leadership and enable productive dialogues and partnerships between marginalized and ‘centralized’ communities, organizations and institutions. Our Vision: A united community that respects diversity, practices equity, and speaks out against discrimination. Our Goal: To create in every sector, and among youth, effective and sustainable ways of integrating all Hamiltonians into the civic life of the community, using their contributions to create a strong and vibrant city Strategic Directions: • Promote the safety and security of all Hamiltonians. • Develop broad-based strategies to eliminate racism and hate. • Foster inter-faith and inter-cultural understanding and respect. • Foster civic leadership across the diverse communities, particularly youth. • Facilitate youth leadership and engagement. Approaches: • Build relationships across the community • Challenge and respond to incidents of discrimination • Foster inclusive, equitable and enduring civic participation. • Facilitate opportunities for on-going public education and aware ness. • Set strategic priorities using community input and sound research. Madina Wasuge Executive Director

Feb 2008 • Volume 1 • Issue 4

ment was not available, as it had been previously rented. I threatened to take the matter to the human rights authorities, and we ended up getting the apartment. This was an early eye opener for me that I have never forgotten. I taught French literature for the first few years, until thanks to a chance encounter with a colleague from the University of Toronto; I began to turn my attention to African and Caribbean literature. I created the first ever courses in francophone African and Caribbean literature at McMaster University in the early 1970s. This led me to spend the 1973-1974 academic year on research leave with my family in Dakar, Senegal, where our son Remi was born on Martin Luther King’s birthday, January 15. Visiting the slave house on the island of Goree off the coast of Dakar from where slaves were dispatched on the Middle Passage to the Americas had special significance for me as a Caribbean-born person.We returned to Africa, three years later, this time to Sierra Leone, where I was posted for two years as the director of the CUSO (a Canadian international development NGO) program in that country, responsible for program planning and overseeing about 30 Canadian volunteers working mainly in education, agriculture and health and a budget for small local projects. I also had the opportunity to spend time in the Gambia, Ghana, Nigeria and Togo. I later served on CUSO’s international Board, including as its Chair. On my return to McMaster University I was fortunate to take on a variety of leadership roles, including as a department chair, Associate Dean, founding Director of the international office focused at the time on inter-university linkages and international development projects, co-director of a program on international justice and human rights, and the Director of the interdisciplinary Arts and Science program. I served at the provincial level as vice-chair of the then Ontario Council on University Affairs that made recommendations to the Minister of Colleges and Universities and chaired its equity committee. My work in the university’s international office broadened my experience, taking me to Nigeria, Uganda, Zambia, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Jamaica, Barbados, Cuba, Chile and Indonesia. A significant experience for me was meeting some of the top leadership of the ANC in Lusaka, Zambia, before the fall of the apartheid regime. Since the 1970s I have been engaged in broad social justice community activism related mainly to antiracism, human rights, immigration and international development. This has included volunteer work with antiracist organizations, a scholarship program for African Caribbean youth, and the ‘And Still I Rise’ exhibit on the history of African Canadians in the 20th Century, SISO and Strengthening Hamilton Community Initiative. Fairly recently retired, I continue with my volunteer community work, with local poverty as an added focus.


What does Black history month mean to you?


Carter G. Woodson initiated the first Black History Week in the U.S. in February 1926 to counteract racist stereotypes about Black people by exploring the contributions of Black Americans in scholarship and civilization, subjects that were absent from the history books and educational curricula. That week was expanded

w w w.thevoiceindiasp

to a month in the US in 1976 and adopted in the Canadian Parliament in 1995 on a motion by M.P. Jean Augustine. As late as the 1960s when the independence train was rolling across Africa and the Caribbean, Oxford University historian, Hugh Trevor-Roper, publicly asserted that “Perhaps in the future there will be some African history to teach. But at the present there is none; there is only the history of Europeans in Africa. The rest is darkness ... and darkness is not the subject of history”. The obliteration of the history, culture and achievements of people of African descent from mainstream history and educational curricula reinforces anti-black racism and continues to this day. I support Black History month as a strategic moment to counteract the negative stereotypes and to celebrate our African roots, resilience, achievements and the diversity of the contemporary Black experience. I recognize at the same time that the essential issues today revolve around equitable access to services, employment opportunities and advancement, representation not only in educational curricula but in terms of civic and political influence, and the elimination of negative pre-suppositions, latent or overt, about Black people - in other words, what is referred to as systemic racism. From this perspective every month is Black History month for me. It has been often pointed out that privilege and power are never ceded voluntarily. So we have to be vigilant, assertive and strategic in demanding fairness and equity, particularly for those who are most grievously affected by the absence of equitable treatment. Racism today is more often than not very subtle and denial of racism is rampant. The onus is also on the mainstream institutions to ensure that their practices meet the test of truly serving our diverse communities. I believe that the work of groups such as HCCI which are helping these institutions by pointing the way forward, providing tools, advice and advocacy, while still clearly articulating the expectation of tangible outcomes, is absolutely crucial.


There are diverse black population in Hamilton; the general consensus amongst them is lack of trust and unity. What do you think is the cause of this disunity and how could this be ratified?


We may be underestimating the diversity of the black population in Hamilton – this is not a homogenous group. Some have been here for many generations; others have come here at different times over the past 60 years or so from different African countries and from various parts of the African Diaspora, including the Caribbean, the U.K., and the U.S. There are different religious beliefs, different experiences, and different day-to-day challenges. It is important in my view to recognize the contribution of groups such as ACCA, the Black History Committee and others that work hard in different ways at bringing the Black community together. Maybe an important additional piece of the solution at present is to have more mechanisms that facilitate individual groups (i.e. associations based on country of origin or otherwise) partnering on specific activities or supporting each other’s organizations and activities. I don’t think there is any one easy answer. ❖ to be continued

Hamilton’s Immigration Strategy - The Time is Now! The

HR Matters-Hamilton Human Resource Strategy has identified the year 2013 as the year of critical impact for businesses in Hamilton to experience a severe shortage of workers. The results would directly impact production and the local economy. Attraction and retention of a skilled workforce and a population that can sustain economic development is therefore critical for our economy. It is critical for all industrialized nations. Studies from the Conference Board of Canada and Statistics Canada suggest that at current levels immigration will account for 75% of net population growth by 2011 and 100% by 2025. It will also account for 100% of net labour force growth by 2011. Immigration to Hamilton has fuelled its population growth for the past two decades. Based on data from Statistics Canada, the Canadian Business and Labour Centre released a report in 2003, which showed a retention rate of 130% for immigrants in Hamilton between 1996 and 2001. Since then, Hamilton has continued to attract immigrants, but at a lower rate, from an annual 4,264 in 2001-2002 to 3,836 in 2005-2006, while the total net migration has slipped from an annual 6,600 in 2001-2002 to 1,249 in 2005-2006. The downturn in local manufacturing, coupled with the economic boom and an acute labour shortage in Alberta and B.C. are prompting important demographic shifts. For Hamilton, this translates into a significant slow-down in population growth, as well as an important slow-down

in immigration. Back in 2001, Hamilton was a destination of choice for secondary migration, registering 130% retention rate for immigrants. During the past few years Hamilton has considerably lost its “appeal”, becoming more of a “transit” city for new immigrants, who, after probing opportunities in Hamilton for a few months, turn their eyes on other communities. Low net migration numbers for Hamilton in 2006 are not a surprise. The Hamilton Census Metropolitan area’s economy slumped in 2006, posting its worst performance in five years. What is most disturbing is that this is happening in the context of Hamilton being one of the designated “places to grow” on the provincial agenda, while our own Growth Related Integrated Development Strategy (GRIDS) identifies a target population of 700,000 by 2031 and an added 100,000 jobs by the same year. Indeed, shocking numbers from Statistics Canada reveal that the overall population growth for Hamilton has slipped to a low 2,763 in 2005-2006 from 8,701 in 2001-2002. Over the coming months we will publish excerpts from a SISO study which speaks about the economic importance of moving towards an integrated Immigration Strategy for Hamilton. The study includes a compilation of recent population statistics, related research, studies, reports and plans which, when together considered, show that we need to act quickly.


 We have matched many newcomer families with Host volunteers.  We are now delivering English Conversation Circles throughout the City of Hamilton.  One of the highlights of 2007 was the number of women and children who

became involved in our regular program activities.  As always, we paid special attention to services and activities for newcomer youth, taking them to places where they have never been before, involving them in activities that they enjoy, at the same time providing them with opportunities for learning and socializing. These achievements would not be possible without the involvement of many community partners and the support received from members of our community who generously gave their time as volunteers.

Join the Host Program and Make a New Friend!


tarting life anew in an unfamiliar culture comes with many challenges. It is difficult for many newcomers to adjust to our fast-paced, “24/7” society because they have to learn a new language, adapt to unfamiliar foods and weather patterns, and deal with different banking, school, transportation and government services. The stress of separation from family and friends at home, combined with the trauma some have experienced in their homeland, make transition to Canada very difficult. The work of SISO is fundamentally about breaking down barriers which often prevent newcomers from reaching their full potential as participants and contributors to

and access to meaningful opportunities are issues of equal importance for all Hamilton residents.

How can Hamilton achieve such a goal? The studies, reports and best practices related to successful attraction and retention of skills and talent summarize the ingredients for success as follows:

Hamilton’s growth and prosperity depend on a combination of factors. Amongst them, the city’s ability and capacity to both attract and retain global skills and talent is critical.

 Job opportunities are critical  Existence of a welcoming community and adequate settlement and integration system is important

About the Host Program was an exceptionally challenging but very successful year for all of us here at the Host Program. We have witnessed a tremendous increase in capacity to deliver quality programming throughout the year. Examples of our successes:

The competition to attract global skills and talent, coupled with a general tendency to “regionalize” immigration, has resulted in a highly competitive environment for our provinces and for our city-regions to attract and retain immigrants. Hamilton is currently losing this game and it needs to re-take its place as a destination of choice for immigrants.

 Quality of life matters

An Immigration Strategy ensures that the importance of immigrants is properly acknowledged and promoted by connecting a responsible population growth plan with economic and social development plans and strategies.

An Immigration Strategy, which balances attraction with retention of both skills and investments, is critically needed today for Hamilton’s economic growth and development.

A strong, welcoming and inclusive community, coupled with a strong employment outlook, will attract skills and talent, while skills and talent will in turn attract more investment and economic growth. Unfortunately for Hamilton, population growth and attraction/retention of skills are not yet part of the City’s economic agenda, while immigration is still regarded as an entirely social matter.

The Immigration Strategy is needed now! The implications of not moving in this direction are far too important. In the words of the Singapore’s Minister of Trades and Industry “unless we succeed in this game, we will lose in every other game. Talent attraction is the foundation of everything else we do.”

Well paid jobs, affordable housing, health care, social services, legal system, education programs, childcare, a proper and affordable transportation system, proper representation in the local administration

Statistics Canada, Annual Demographic Estimates: Census Metropolitan Areas, Economic Regions and Census Divisions, Age and Sex; 2001 to 2006

Canada’s prosperity and growth. SISO’s Host Program helps adult newcomers and their children adjust to life in Canada and learn about Canadian values and traditions. With the assistance and understanding of Host Program volunteers, newcomers to Canada begin to feel more at home in their new country and community. Becoming involved in the Host Program gives Canadians an opportunity to learn about another country and language, discover a new culture, and forge new friendships. They may see things about life here in Hamilton that they had never noticed or appreciated before, through someone else’s eyes. Most importantly, they have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to make a difference in someone’s life and help them make a new beginning.

w w w.thevoiceindiasp

Volunteer Corner


’s Host Program can help you meet someone from another culture! It takes just two social hours a week and can make a world of difference for a newcomer in adjusting to life in Canada. There are individual, family, and group opportunities. The Host Program is an excellent way for families with children to volunteer together. To learn more contact Susan at 905667-7496 or

Feb 2008 • Volume 1 • Issue 4

Break Down Barriers! Use Cultural Interpretation and Translation Services

If language is a barrier, we are a committed team working to serve newcomers from diverse communities by making all available services accessible. What is Cultural Interpretation? It is the art of actively listening, recalling the message, and instantly making an oral translation from one language to another, while using an awareness of cultural concepts and backgrounds to facilitate full understanding between the parties in an interaction. What are the Purposes of Cultural Interpretation? • To enable service providers such as social, health, legal, educational, governmental and other essential services to communicate with clients who have language barriers • To increase access to human services by linguistically and culturally diverse individuals • To reduce the possibility of decisions based on misunderstood information or racial/cultural stereotypes. Liabilities with UNTRAINED Cultural Interpreters: • Confidentiality problems. • Role conflicts • Invalidated documents. • Distortion, addition or omission of information. Training After completing the recruitment process, SISO’s interpreters undergo an intensive training. Regular training sessions are held to ensure that a high standard is

SISO’s Youth ProgramHost Services Welcome to our first SISO Host Youth Program insert! We are honored to take part in such a wonderful community newspaper. First, I would like to introduce you to the Youth Program. It focuses on developing our youth with all the tools needed to integrate easily in our society to become advocates of their own destiny. The program encourages youth to build positive decision making skills, self-exploration and self-esteem, while allowing our youth to participate in fun recreational activities and workshops. Our goal is to help newcomer youth to feel welcomed and settled, make new friends and assist them in the integration process. We offer many activities and programs including Homework Clubs (French tutors on site), English Conversation Circles, Francophone Boys Sports, Francophone Girls Club, Youth leadership, Girls Club, Field Trips, Dances, Special Events, Sports and more fun-based activities. You will find below our Youth Calendar and articles regarding our program.

maintained. ➤Volunteer Orientation Session - monthly ➤First face-to-face interview about their interest and confidentiality issues ➤Cultural Interpretation Training emphasizing the matter of confidentiality, their knowledge about Balance of Power in a 3-Way Communication / Standards of Practice / Ethical Principles / Roles, Responsibilities and Rights of Interpreter Language Assessment Tests We administer the following tests for the Hamilton area: Interpreter Language and Skills Assessment Tool (ILSAT)  Cultural Interpreter Language and Interpreting Skills Assessment Tool (CILISAT) These tests are designed to test the proficiency in English and the other language, as well as the ability of the interpreter to perform consecutive interpretation and sight translation. The purpose of these tests is to assess these skills as part of the requirements to provide efficient interpretation services.

need to provide the name and nature of your business, the address, and name and phone number of a contact person. We will send you a service agreement which includes an outline of the terms and conditions of the service. After this you are just one call away from accessing a high quality, reliable service. The agreement does not commit you to frequency or minimum usage of the service. Direct fax number: 905-529-CITS (2487) 24/7 Service: 905-928-CITS (2487) e-mail: Direct Line: 905-667-7500 Interpretation: 905-667-3174 Translation: 905-667-7501 Services Available ✓ Interpretation ✓ Consecutive Interpretation ✓ Simultaneous Interpretation ✓ Whispered Simultaneous Interpretation ✓ Sight Translation ✓ Telephone Interpreting ✓ Relay Interpreting

How to Access Cultural Interpretation and Translation Services?

✓ Video-conferencing Interpreting

If you are not registered with SISO’s Cultural Interpretation and Translation Services and you think your agency or business could benefit from the service, call 905667-7500 to register. For registration, you

✓ Telephone Message Relay

✓ Verbatim Translation Translation ✓ Regular Translation ✓ Relay Translation

✓ Back Translation Available Languages Albanian, Amharic, Arabic, Armenian, Assyrian, Azeri, Bahasa, Bengali, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Caldenean, Cambodian (Khmer), Cantonese, Creole, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dari, Dinka, Dutch, Dzaga, Estonian, Farsi (Persian), Filipino (Tagalog and Ilocano), Firulano, French, German, Greek, Gujarati, Hakka, Hebrew, Hindi, Hokkien, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Juba, Karen, Kirundi, Korean, Kurdish, Laotian, Lingala, Lithuanian, Luganda, Macedonian, Malay, Mandarin, Moldovan, Nuer, Ohomo, Pashto, Patois (Broken English), Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Sindhi, Sinhalese, Slovak, Slovenian, Somali, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Tamil, Telugu, Thai, Tigrinya, Turkish, Twi, Ukrainian, Urdu, Uzbek, Vietnamese, Yoruba, Zulu Who Benefits From Our Services? SISO provides cultural interpretation and translation services directly to immigrants and refugees who are registered clients as well as to a variety of other service providers, such as: health centres, social services, educational institutions, lawyers, shelters, etc. Individuals and organizations interested in accessing cultural interpretation and translation services at SISO should contact the CITS Department directly, and inquire about the applicable fees. Cultural interpretation and translation services are available in over 80 languages.

A day at the Youth Program

Youth Sports

My first day at SISO felt like it was the day that I was reborn. The atmosphere was peaceful and everywhere welcoming faces made you feel accepted. The more that I started learning about SISO, the more I realized that SISO is our Hamilton community. As a Child and Youth Worker, I now see how much SISO benefits new immigrant families and their youth. I feel privileged that I have this opportunity to be part of such an amazing movement. SISO helps strengthen our community and its people. This is my life, my work and my home.

On December 27th SISO youth played in the OSA Soccer Tournament at Soccer World. It was a great day playing against teams from around the Hamilton Area. It was so much fun and we look forward to playing in more tournaments in Soccer World’s house league as well as weekly soccer scrimmages at Soccer World. If you are interested in participating in the Youth Soccer Program, we meet every Wednesday at 3:45 at Soccer World (40 Frid Street, right by the Hamilton Spectator Office).

Joana is one of our placement students from Mohawk College and will be with us until April. Welcome!

We look forward to seeing all of you at our Youth Program!

From Gigi, Youth Organizer For further information and to register with our program please contact us at (905) 667-7476 or email All our programs are free of charge.

Feb 2008 • Volume 1 • Issue 4

Deanna is our Sport & Recreation Youth Worker.

w w w.thevoiceindiasp

Settlement Workers in Schools-Hamilton (SWISH) Newcomer immigrants and refugees face various challenges in their efforts to adapt and integrate themselves in the society. Even though there are settlement services available to support newcomers in the first difficult stage of settlement, many newcomers don’t use them because of lack of information. It is important to take the services to the newcomers instead of waiting for them to come for the services. Newcomer parents or guardians need information about schools and the Settlement Workers in Schools (SWIS) program was designed for this purpose. The program focuses on providing information to the newcomer students and parents about the Canadian educational system and on facilitating a smooth relationship with the

Settlement Counselling Program Counselling Services are provided in three areas that facilitate and support a successful integration of immigrants and refugees in Hamilton. Settlement Services: The program provides a wide range of services that assist immigrants and refugees to settle, adapt and integrate, and to overcome the barriers they may face in accessing services to which they may be entitled. A team of dedicated Counsellors provides information and orientation to newcomers. They provide assistance with

school. Settlement Workers in Schools-Hamilton (SWISH) was launched in May 2001 within Settlement and Integration Services Organization (SISO) and in collaboration with Hamilton-Wentworth Public District School Board, Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board, and Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). The program was developed to meet the needs of parents. The program has nine SWISH workers operating in 41 Public and Catholic schools in the Hamilton area. A SWISH worker is also assigned to the Public and Catholic Assessment Centres where newcomer students are assessed for their English and Math level. The settlement workers in the various application forms such as: Subsidized Housing, Social Insurance Number, Health Card, Refugee Claims, Subsidized Childcare, Preparation for Canadian Citizenship, Child Tax Benefit and Immigration related forms such as: work permits, spousal sponsorships as well as parent sponsorships. Settlements services also include advocating for the client’s rights, individual or family counselling and offer other services. Settlement Health Services: SISO has health workers who identify clients’ health issues through assessment of present and past medical history and refer them to

schools speak many different languages; French, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Punjabi, Urdu, Hindi, Farsi, Dari, Amharic and Russian, which is crucial in reaching out to those people who might not access the services due to language barriers. From April 2007-December 2007, SWISH workers had served 1,434 new clients. The other important role of the SWISH workers is facilitating active communication between newcomer parents and the school. Through different sessions that bring the newcomer families together, the workers initiate parents’ involvement in their children’s education and outreach to parents who are difficult to reach, and bring them to the school. The SWISH workappropriate healthcare professionals as needed. The goal of the Settlement Health Program is to support newcomers through education (plan and organize presentations on health topics; coordinate training sessions and activities) and advocacy. We support healthcare professionals who provide services to the target population: Government and community Sponsored Refugees and immigrant client with special needs, e.g., pregnant women Children’s Mental Health Outreach Program (CMHOP): Provides culturally sensitive mental health services to children

w w w.thevoiceindiasp

ers organize additional sessions on health care and other community issues for particular groups with the aim of connecting the newcomers with available resources. In future years, the SWISH team envisions increasing their network, thus reaching out to more newcomer families. This definitely would not materialize without the involvement of the useful stakeholders like the school board members, principals, teachers, other school staff and most of all, the courageous parents and students who crossed oceans to come to Hamilton with strong will and hope. For more information, please contact Souhaila Dihaini, SWISH Manager, at 905-667-7494, or by email: sdihaini@ 0-18 years of age. This program mainly focuses on refugee children who are/have been directly and/or indirectly affected by postwar conflict and trauma. By providing individual/family counselling and advocating for the refugee children, CMHOP promotes the positive emotional health and well-being of children and their families who are new to Canada. CMHOP collaborates with families, schools, social service organizations and community groups in order to address the emotional difficulties of children so that they can live full, rich and healthy lives.

Feb 2008 • Volume 1 • Issue 4

Highlights from The Labour Force Survey released by Statistics Canada for December 2007


ollowing seven consecutive months of increases, employment edged down in December (-19,000). Over the year, however, employment was up an estimated 2.2% (+370,000), similar to the growth rate of 2006 (+2.1%) and the fifteenth consecutive year of employment growth. The unemployment rate held steady at 5.9% in December.

Wages continued to rise in December, increasing to 4.9% from December 2006, exceeding the most recent increase in the Consumer Price Index of 2.5%. At $23.50, Alberta’s average hourly wage stood well above that of other provinces, up 8.8% or close to two dollars from 12 months earlier, and far above that province’s Consumer Price Index change of 4.7%.

to 2006 when it edged down (-0.4%). All of the self-employment gains were in fulltime work in 2007.

Manufacturing experienced another drop in December (-33,000). Following a decline of 2.4% in 2006, employment in this industry was further reduced by an estimated 6.2% in 2007.

Employment in the service-producing sector rose an estimated 3.3% (+417,000) in 2007. Above-average gains occurred in public administration (+9.4%); information, culture and recreation (+8.9%); professional, scientific and technical services (+5.7%); transportation and warehousing (+4.8%) and “other services” (+4.8%).

Employment in Ontario also edged down in December, as losses in manufacturing; accommodation and food services; and finance, insurance, real estate and leasing were only partially offset by gains in trade and public administration. This brought Ontario’s unemployment rate up 0.3 percentage points to 6.5% in December, 0.6 percentage points above the national average.

All of the employment losses in December were among employees in the private sector, leaving gains for this group of workers up a tepid 0.4% over the course of the year. Gains for the year were mostly in the public sector and self-employment.

Self-employment rose by an estimated 22,000 in December, bringing growth in 2007 to 4.5% (+114,000). This is in contrast

In December, employment in the private sector declined by 51,000, offsetting the gains made the previous month. Over the year, private sector employment notched up only 0.4% (+47,000), driven by parttime work.

1.4% in 2007, mainly due to weakness in the goods-producing sector (-5.6%). Not only were there losses in manufacturing, but also in agriculture; natural resources and construction over the year. Manufacturing employment in this province dropped 6.5% (-64,000) in 2007, primarily in motor vehicles, body and parts; fabricated metal; and wood products manufacturing. Despite these weaknesses in the goodsproducing sector in Ontario during 2007, there were notable gains in the services industries (+3.6%): public administration; education; information, culture and recreation; and professional, scientific and technical services. Employment growth was all in full-time work in the province.”

Ontario’s employment growth was a tepid

A Quick Look at Employment Programs and Services at SISO 1. Job Search Workshops for Newcomers Program (JSW) Provides group and individual information, assistance and support related to: The Labour Market, Job Search Strategies, Career Decision Making, Portfolio Development, Workplace Culture, Licensing & Accreditation and Interview Skills.

ternships, student placements, mentoring or volunteering. 6. Resource Centre Offers access to specialized resources,

A modularized, participant-centred bridging program to assist International Engineers transition into their field and/or gaining registration with a professional regulatory body.

Additional Services: The Ontario Works Accreditation Project Qualified social assistance recipients may obtain funding for training related to licensing and accreditation.

2. Career Development Provides Career Decision Making assistance and support for newcomers to Canada. Includes specialized assistance to identify career opportunities.

Specialized Information Sessions Workshops and sessions related to employment for newcomer youth, licensing and accreditation and business start-up for newcomers.

3. Job Development Bridges labour force supply and demand, while providing assistance and support to both job seekers and employers. Provides direct links to employment by tapping into the hidden job market and raising awareness of local employers regarding the pool of skilled candidates. 4. The Newcomer Mentoring Program Provides support in developing professional networks by linking InternationallyTrained Professionals and Tradespeople with mentors working in the same field. 5. ELT (Enhanced Language Training) Program Offers higher language training (benchmark 7 and above), along with workplace exposure, including: paid and unpaid in-

Library & SISO Settlement Partnership (LSSP) Program In partnership with the Hamilton-Public Library and Citizenship and Immigration Canada, SISO is pleased to offer the Library SISO Settlement Program (LSSP). The focus of this program is to provide settlement services to newcomer youth and their families who have been in Cana-

Feb 2008 • Volume 1 • Issue 4

in our programs. Launched in November 2004, the web site hosts approximately 400 resumes at any given time. Approximately 80 employers are registered at any given time.

Education Assessments

information, training, and assistance to assist internationally-educated/trained professionals and trades people, employers and employment-service providers. 7. Career Transitions for International Medical Doctors (IMDs) Group sessions and individual assistance for IMDs considering alternative careers in health care. 8. Bridging Program for Engineers

da for a short period of time. This program helps to connect them to resources in the community, as well as the Library’s programs and services, and assisting them with their settlement needs. Local Information and Referral counsellors for the LSSP program are placed in five branches of the Hamilton Public Library, including Central, Westdale, Terryberry, Red Hill and Salt Fleet, as well as the Book Mobile, in order to serve our diverse communities in Hamilton. The LSSP Counsellors are able to link their clients to many different programs and services within the community.

9. Workplace Development Toolkit On-line HR-related tools, information and resources to assist employers recruit and hire internationally trained professionals/ tradespeople and better integrate diversity in the workplace. 10. The SkillsAdvantage.Com The SkillsAdvantage.Com is an interactive web site, which features a searchable resume database and the possibility for employers to view the resumes of all employment-ready candidates registered The LSSP Counsellors are able to provide their clients with a one-stop service point for newcomers, with direct access to settlement resources at the Hamilton Public Library branches, Book Mobile, SISO and services in the wider community. This program encourages recent immigrants and their families to become HPL members and to become more familiar with the library programs and services in order to assist with their settlement in the community. The Hamilton Public Library branches and Book Mobile will continue to add materials to their collection, to enable the

w w w.thevoiceindiasp

Assistance for newcomers to obtain educational assessments for the purpose of employment or access to further education. Corporate Training and Consulting Specialized Corporate Training and Consulting for companies embarked on a pathway to recruit and integrate diversity. Services include information and training to address professional development for staff and management as well as consulting related to policies and practices.

Library staff, LSSP Information and Referral Counsellors and newcomer families to share information and become better informed of each other’s strengths, resources and newcomer needs. Through the LSSP Program, there has been an increased awareness and linkage between newcomer families, libraries and the community. Additional available services include Cultural Interpretation to parents or guardians as well as library staff if needed.

“And mankind is not but a single nation.” Quran : 2-213

nations and tribes, that you may know one another” [Quran 49:13] Racism was and still is one of the severe diseases of human society. Everyone remembers how our fellow black Africans were transported across the oceans, packed in specially designed ships, treated like livestock. They were made slaves, forced to change their names and religion and language, were not entitled to hope for true freedom, and were refused basic human rights. When God’s Messenger was raised as a Prophet, the same kind of racism, under the name of tribalism, was prevalent in

Makka. The Makkan tribe “Quraish” considered themselves in particular and Arabs in general, superior to all the other peoples of the world. God’s Messenger came with the Divine Message and proclaimed that no Arab is superior over a non-Arab, and no white is superior over black. And superiority is by righteousness and piety alone.

Scriptures (Peace Be Upon Them). For the past week, I have been utterly speechless and spellbound by the graciousness I see displayed all around me by people of all colours.” Malcolm X

God the Almighty says (interpretation of the meaning):

“All of you go back to Adam, and Adam is –created- of dust”

“And among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the variations in your languages and your colours; verily in that are Signs for those who know” [Quran 30:22] “Never have I witnessed such sincere hospitality and the overwhelming spirit of true brotherhood as is practised by people of all colours and races here in this ancient Holy Land, the home of Abraham, Muhammad, and all the other prophets of the Holy


people are the descendants of one man and one woman, light skinned and dark skinned, male and female, poor and rich, noble and lowly. We all go back to the same origin. Islam does not pay attention to differences in colour, race or lineage. All people come from Adam, and Adam was created from dust. God the Almighty says (interpretation of the meaning): “O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into

From that land, and over fourteen centuries ago, Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him) declared:

Racism is just plain ugly, is not it? ■ Sayed M. Tora Imam & Social Worker. Hamilton Downtown Mosque

Land Transfer Tax Refund Program ers in Ontario. The rebate will apply to the provincial land transfer tax on all new and resale properties for first time buyers. Previously, this program was only available for first time buyers of new homes or condominiums. Report By Philip U. Okpala ...continued from January.


is proposed that eligible home be defined as follows:

1. A detached house; 2. A semi-detached house, including a dwelling house that is joined to another dwelling house at the footing or foundation by a wall above or below grade or both above and below grade; 3. A townhouse; 4. share or shares of the capital stock of a co-operative corporation if the share or Another reason to smile if you are a soonto-be first time home buyer in Ontario: the province just announced a tax break of up to $2000 for all first time home buy-

The McGuinty government is giving all first-time homebuyers a break on land transfer tax by proposing to expand the Land Transfer Tax Refund Program to include purchases of resale homes. On December 13, 2007, proposed amendments to the Land Transfer Tax Act were announced in the 2007 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review.  The proposed amendments must be passed by the Legislature and receive Royal Assent to become law. It is proposed that the Land Transfer Tax Refund Program for First-Time Homebuyers be expanded to include purchases of resale homes. The maximum refund would be $2000. This proposal to include resale homes would be effective for agreements of purchase and sale entered into after December 13, 2007. How to Claim the Refund

Until the Proposed Amendments Become Law; Newly Constructed Homes Eligible first-time homebuyers of newly constructed homes should continue to have their lawyers claim the refund under current procedures at the time of registration. The date the agreement of purchase and sale is entered into is not a factor with respect to newly constructed homes. Resale Homes Until the proposed amendments become law, first-time homebuyers of resale homes applying for a refund must pay Land transfer tax at registration and submit the following documentation to the Ministry of Revenue: 1. A properly completed form - Ontario Land Transfer Tax Refund Affidavit for FirstTime Purchasers of Eligible Homes (Resale) 2. A copy of the registered instrument on which land transfer tax was paid (in the case of electronic registration, please include a copy of the docket summary which relates to the transaction);

w w w.thevoiceindiasp

3. A copy of the agreement of purchase and sale (only those agreements of purchase and sale entered into after December 13, 2007 may qualify) along with a copy of the statement of adjustments. Refund applications on resale homes cannot currently be made electronically. Although eligible first-time buyers of resale homes may apply for the refund once the transaction has closed and the tax has been paid, the ministry would retain the refund requests for processing and would issue refunds if the proposed amendments become law. The following eligibility requirements are proposed to apply for resale homes, and continue to apply for newly constructed homes: 1. The purchaser must be at least 18 years of age. 2. Application for the refund must be made within 18 months after the date of the conveyance or disposition. 3. The purchaser must occupy the home as his or her principal residence within 9 months of the date of closing.

Feb 2008 • Volume 1 • Issue 4

❖ to be continued

Dietary Habits/Patterns and Health Outcomes Veronica Chris-Ike Contributed by Veronica Chris-Ike


ietary patterns and habits are crucial to our overall health and wellbeing. As the trend of migration is rapidly changing, people from different cultural backgrounds are living together and so, everything around us is changing. In the haze of this cultural blending, it is very easy to copy the wrong things; ignore sound nutritional advice; and stick to some of our ancient cultural practices and habits which increased the demise of some ethnic populations. Some immigrants are from tropical climates where delicacies prepared and consumed in that climate would contribute to serious health conditions if consumed here in Canada. Though many immigrants are living in Canada for many years now, little or no change has been noticed on their part in eliminating some harmful dietary ...continued from page 

The History of Valentine’s Day celebrated in the honour of the Roman God of Fertility. This day falls on the 15th of February every year. According to a time worn custom, on the eve of Lupercalia (14th of Feb) a ritual of ‘name drawing’ was followed, during which a young man drew the name of a girl from the lot, who was to be his sweetheart for the whole year. Romance, has, of course always made the world go round but we must say that these Romans knew how to make it official. Since then, this day (14th of Feb) has been considered as the day of Cupid, the mischievous son of Venus -the Roman Goddess of Love. Lovers through the ages have taken this day as their own - a day to celebrate the finest human emotion. The reason for celebration is ageless, but it was much later that a great lover gave the day his name.

habits, which are the causes of many untimely deaths in their countries of origin. For some people, it is tradition to prepare certain foods in certain ways and whether that traditional method is harmful to one’s health or not, they do not worry about it. These traditions are still adopted and practiced. We have heard so much about baking food instead of frying it in deep oil, yet most of us choose to ignore this information and still fry our plantains, meats, fish and other delicacies. We are aware of the chemical transformations that fried oil undergoes which could contribute to added plagues to our arteries and cause cardiovascular diseases, yet we ignore the advice. Most times, I think that it is a nonchalant attitude and nothing else that could be blamed when harmful cultural practices are passed down from one generation to the next. With community education and enlightenment, remarkable improvements on the health and well-being of our diverse population would be achieved. The onus is on well-meaning individuals to take up this challenge and create some health awareness activities for their communities. Having said that, it is not only the negative ‘cultural’ dietary habits that endanger the lives of the immigrants in our communities, but also the adoption of the host country’s negative dietary habits and behaviour. These contribute to further negative health outcomes amongst immigrants. Some immigrants are as quick to forget their heritage when in a new country as they are much more eager to erase horrible memories of years of abuse, neglect and torture from

Though humans are the same whether from cold or warm climates, there are certain differences in genetic compositions that might predispose immigrants from warm climates not to tolerate certain Canadian foods. I stand to be corrected if this assumption is erroneous, but that is my understanding. Hence, knowing what foods your genetic composition could tolerate and sticking to them is a lesson in learning. However, no matter where one comes from, whether a warm or cold climate, making wrong dietary choices of high fat, sugar, starch and low fibre can contribute to the development of chronic health con-

International Mother Language Day

The eternal lover that gave us the famous word ‘Valentine’ and originated the tradition of writing love letters on this day is believed to be Bishop Valentine. He was a priest in Rome when, the city was ruled by ‘Claudius the Cruel’. In spite of the fact that Claudius had forbidden Christian conversions and Christian marriages, the Bishop refused to surrender to Roman Gods and carried on his religious duties in secret. He was imprisoned for disobedience, but even in prison he converted the convicts. While he was in prison, the jailer’s daughter became his friend and was loyal to him through his ordeal. When Claudius came to know that imprisonment had not broken his enduring Christian spirit, the bishop was executed. However, on the day of his death Valentine wrote a note to his friend, ‘the jailer’s daughter’ and signed it - ‘From Your Valentine’. This great man who died for his beliefs, for his enduring love of the Christian God, was chosen as the patron Saint of lovers. 14th February has since been celebrated as Valentine’s Day. Romantic souls all over the world have preferred to focus on the romantic twist of this tale, the story of the man who united lovers in the holy bond of marriage; a man who loved his jailer’s daughter and started the tradition of writing love notes.Happy Valentine’s Day to our readers. ■ (From the Voice in Diaspora Newspaper).

Bangla is an ancient language – over thousand years old. It evolved mainly from

Feb 2008 • Volume 1 • Issue 4

Furthermore, some of the immigrants’ children are under intense peer pressure that as a result, they distance themselves from their cultures in order to be accepted by friends. Most immigrant parents are at loss as to which food or snack to prepare for their children. Even cooking traditional food at home is now being met with much criticism and resistance by some of our children growing up here. Most times, the children cover their nostrils to wade off ‘smells’ emanating from cultural foods being prepared in the homes. It is disturbing, yet amusing to watch the calculated efforts these children make to hide their jackets away from the traditional food ‘odours.’ It is the opposite case when Canadian foods which they prefer and relish are being offered as meals.

ditions and increase morbidity. stop It is disturbing to see how much we consume during the summer months in this country, immigrants and Canadians alike. Almost every neighbourhood is filled with flesh burning aromas from the barbeques. Our community beaches are busy with activities centered around food and snacks and less on actual recreation. Many community associations organize barbeques with the central purpose of sampling varieties of their native and Canadian delicacies with no agenda left for physical activities. Going to some of these community barbeques and seeing the amount of food displayed and eventually consumed by invitees’ lingers on my mind. These practices make us put on unnecessary weight and facilitate the development of multiple chronic illnesses. ❖ to be continued

Are you an ethnic/ cultural artist? Do you want to showcase your work and talent?

The Voice in Diaspora wants to hear from you to participate in a cultural artistic exhibition taking place fall next year.


for more information. Also visit our website at

...continued from page 

culturally, economically, linguistically and politically. Although most people of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) speak Bangla, rulers of Pakistan that time attempted to impose Urdu (as the state language of Pakistan) over the 70 million Bangla speaking people (Bangalees) of East Pakistan. In 1948, the year after the partition Jinnah, the leader of Pakistan, declared that “Urdu and Urdu only, will be the state language of Pakistan”. The people (especially the University Students) of East Pakistan strongly protested against Jinnah’s arrogant statement. This was the beginning of the Language Movement and it reached its climax in February 1952. Students, politicians and the general people banded together in a move to implement Bangla as an official language, alongside Urdu, and the state language of East Pakistan. On February 21st in 1952 at Dhaka, the capital of then East Pakistan, the police and army opened fire on a mass-rally claiming Bangla as state language, and killed Salam, Barkat, Rafiq, Jabbar and others. They were the first martyrs of the East Pakistan Language Movement. It was a great sacrifice of human lives, the first in human history, for the defense of the mother tongue. This sacrifice to defend the mother tongue became the turning point of Language movement– which eventually led to War of Independence. As a result, East Pakistan disappeared and Bangladesh emerged on the world map in 1971 after a nine months bloody war against West Pakistanis. Bangla upheld its glory and became the official language of Bangladesh.


their homeland. Therefore, some people copy the worst cultural trends from their host country believing that such things would accelerate their acceptance and integration into their new abode.

Sanskrit. Also Hindi, Urdu, Farsi, English –all contributed lots of words and terms to form this language. The Bangla alphabet originated from the Brahmi alphabet of the Asokan inscription. Bangla at the present day has two literary styles. One is called “Sadhu Bhasha” and the other “Chalit Bhasa”. The former is the traditional literary style based on the Middle Bangla of the sixteenth century. The latter is practically a creation of the present century, and is based on the cultivated form of the dialect and day to day talks. The Sadhu Bhasa has the old and heavier forms while the Chalit Bhasa uses the Modern and lighter form. Bangla is a very rich language – producing lots of world-class writers, poets, musicians, actors, and film directors. There is a common saying that all Bangalees are poets by nature. In 1913, the Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore received the NOBLE award in literature. Not only he - there were two more Bangalees, Professor Amartya Sen and Professor Muhammad Yunus were awarded the NOBLE Prizes for Economics and Peace. February 21st 1952 is one of the most significant days, not in Bangladesh only, but in human history because on that day there was unprecedented sacrifice made by the Bangla speaking people of Bangladesh to defend their sweet mother tongue. Since 1952, 21 February has been observed every year to commemorate the martyrs of the Language Movement. In 1999 UNESCO adopted a resolution proclaiming 21 February as the International Mother Language Day to be observed globally in recognition of the sacrifices of Bangla language martyrs who laid their lives in establishing the

w w w.thevoiceindiasp

rightful place of Bangla. In its resolutions UNESCO said – the recognition was given bearing in mind that all moves to promote the dissemination of mother tongues will serve not only to encourage linguistic diversity and multilingual education, but also to develop fuller awareness about linguistic and cultural traditions throughout the world and to inspire solidarity based on understanding, tolerance and dialogue. The observance of International Mother Language Day – February 21st has great significance in Canada, considering Canada’s spectacular multilingual and multicultural society. When immigrants come in Canada they bring their linguistic and cultural heritages as well. Canada wants us to be integrated by keeping our own cultural roots and heritage and develop understanding, respect and tolerance for each other – which are unique in a Canadian Way. Canada has been exemplary in the world for living all together with peace, respect and tolerance as a multilingual and multicultural nation. But there is still room for improvement! Feb 21st – International Mother Language Day reminds us of that true message - love your mother tongue and support and protect your language and also other languages! ■ Asm Tabaruk Jahan President Bangladesh Association of Hamilton 275 James Street North Hamilton ON PO Box 37052 P.C. L8R 3P1

The Voice in Diaspora Newspaper and SISO are proud sponsors of the “World Mother Tongue Day” activities, Feb 24th, 2008.

Liberal Party Candidates

w w w.thevoiceindiasp

Feb 2008 • Volume 1 • Issue 4



Immigrant Women – Canadian Perspective ...continued from January.


fter their arrival in Canada, three out of five women work in an occupation different from their field prior to immigrating. Well more than half of immigrant women who arrived in Canada between 2001 and 1991 work part-time. The vast majority of home-workers and contract shop employees in Canada’s garment industry are immigrant women of colour. This sector is unregulated with very low pay, irregular work, and no option for benefits. (Yanz, Lynda, Bob Jeffcott, Deena Ladd, and Joan Atlin, 1999. Policy Options to Improve Standards for Women Garment Workers in Canada and Internationally. Status of Women, Ottawa). Domestic workers are almost exclusively immigrant women. Often living in the homes of their employers, they are particularly vulnerable to economic exploitation and human rights abuses. (National Organization of Immigrant and Visible Minority Women of Canada, 2004. Releasing the Wellspring: Addressing the Economic Reality of Immigrant Women. Ottawa). The numbers of non-status workers in Canada is unknown, but the majorities are likely women and girls. They are at high risk of abuse because they have limited access to information, and contacting authorities puts them at risk of deportation (Rights of Non-Status Women Network, 2006. Non-Status Women in Canada: Fact Sheet. Toronto). Alarmingly Low Incomes: Recent immigrants make significantly less than other women. In 2000, women who immigrated to Canada in the previous decade had an average income of just $16,700. This is about $6,000 less than the average for all foreign-born women ($22,400), as well as Canadian-born women ($23,100). In 1980, immigrant women were paid 23% less than Canadian-born women of similar ages and education. By 2000, this gap had doubled to 45%. In 2000, 35% of women who immigrated to Canada between 1991 and 2001 were living in a low-income household. Fortytwo percent of female immigrants under the age of 15 were living in a low-income household (almost three times as many as their non-immigrant counterparts at 17%). (Stats Can. 2006). The Barriers to Employment: Language barriers and the transferability of foreign credentials are the most common challenges for both immigrant women and men as they seek employment (Stats Can. 2003). Immigrant women have difficulty accessing employment and training services due to eligibility criteria (Khosla, Punam, 2003. If Low Income Women of Colour Counted in Toronto. The Community Social Planning Council of Toronto, Toronto.). Refugee women, in particular, are frequently denied access to services because they are not permanent residents (National Organization of Immigrant and Visible Minority Women of Canada, 2006. Creating Employment Opportunities for Immigrant Women in Canada, Project Report. Ottawa). Lack of


childcare is a barrier for immigrant women trying gain Canadian experience through volunteer work or wanting to access employment and training services. Childcare is also a tremendous challenge for the many immigrant women employed in seasonal, irregular and shift work positions (Canadian Council on Social Development, 2001. A Community Growing Apart: Income Gaps and Changing Needs in the City of Toronto in the 1990s. United Way of Greater Toronto, Toronto). Many studies link racial prejudice and unemployment (Ornstein, Michael, 2006. Ethno-Racial Groups in Toronto, 1971-2001: A Demographic and Socio-Economic Profile, Institute for Social Research. York University, Downsview). From 1991 to 2001, 74% of all immigrant women were visible minorities, compared with 52% in the decade between 1971 and 1980,(Stats Can. March 2006) and since this time the income and employment gaps between immigrants and Canadian-born people have increased. Since the 1970s, income for most racialized groups of women has steadily declined in relation to non-racialized women’s income (Ornstein, Michael, 2006. Ethno-Racial Groups in Toronto, 1971-2001: A Demographic and SocioEconomic Profile, Institute for Social Research. York University, Downsview) Very Limited Access to Old Age Pension: Immigrant women must live in Canada for ten years between the ages of 18 and 65 before they can collect 25% of Old Age Pension (OAP). To collect full OAP, they must reside in Canada for forty years or more between ages 18 and 65. (Women Elders in Action (WE*ACT). 2004. Pensions in Canada: Policy Reform Because Women Matter. Vancouver). This applies even if they have Landed Immigrant Status or are a Canadian Citizen and is a policy contravenes the Charter of Rights and Freedom (Women Elders in Action (WE*ACT). 2004. Pensions in Canada: Policy Reform Because Women Matter. Vancouver in 2001, women made up 54% of the immigrant population aged 65 and over (Statistics Canada. March 2006. Women in Canada). ■



: 905 525 5090

T/FREE : 1866 925 5090


174 King Street West, Corner King/Bay 1 BLK West of Jackson Square, Hamilton. Phone: (905) 525 5090 - Fax: (905) 525 5093 E- mail:


We celebrate because we are proud of our heritage as proud, resourceful and talented people. MOTHER - AFRICA We celebrate because it is an o...