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Ask Tito Mike by Michael Scott  

It takes a community

by Michael Scott

Canada has joined with others in a global campaign promoting the positive aspects of immigration. The campaign entitled “It Takes a Community” brings international and domestic attention to the contributions of immigrants.

There is no lack of negative press against immigration in Canada and other countries so it is time to restore some balance in the public sphere. The project to promote immigration is the inspiration of stakeholders from government, business, youth networks and civil society. It has been facilitated by the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) and led jointly by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the governments of Canada amongst others. The initiative has a noble purpose of counteracting the anti-immigrant lobby whose adherents are worldwide.

It is said that unity of purpose is having a common enemy, but what about reversing the outlook and being inspired by a common friend? The end should not be to hate and discriminate against others as perceived to be different and a threat. In our country’s recent past, we had the lobby in Quebec, extolling the virtues of native Canadians – the “us” supposedly under threat of international hordes of immigrants at the door – the “other” or “autre.” The lobby painted the pictures of “us” against “them.” However, political reason prevailed and the voters understood that there is more context to the issue than simply polar opposites because the so-called “us” includes immigrants who have added to the net value of Quebec as a province and Canada as a country.

We need to embrace inclusiveness because it actually describes who we are as a country. Rather than build walls, we need – in words of Pope Francis – to build bridges. We need ways to bring more immigrants in and not creative ways to keep them out. They need Canada and Canada needs them.

Canada has an ambitious immigration plan for 2021 to offset the negative impact of the global pandemic and attract the necessary human resources our country requires. Immigration provides the solution to our supply side shortfall by providing skilled workers, reunified families, and the settlement of displaced refugees and protected classes. Each stream is included in the annual target of 401,000 landings for 2021, with approximately 60 per cent allocated to economic immigration.

Our country needs all immigrants. All serve our goals of economic and social growth and all enhance Canada’s international reputation as being one of the best – if not the best – destination for applicants from abroad. We have a vested interest in attracting and nurturing immigrant applicants but need to be aware of the loud opposition against immigration, which is promoted internationally and domestically. We cannot pull the covers over our heads and ignore these voices, but rather find an effective way to respond.

Canada has found a number of ways to respond to the critics and has embraced “It Takes a Community” as a way to offset negative press about caravans of others coming to the southern border of the United States, or the Syrian hordes travelling northward to Europe to be stopped at the Hungarian border. The consensus amongst Canadians has been in favour of immigration. But discrimination, racism, and exclusion of others has its supporters in Canada as well as other first world countries. We need immigrants to secure a healthy future for the country and we also need a healthy outlook and an understanding of the positive attributes of welcoming newcomers from abroad.

“It is important to recognize the many ways that migrants and refugees are giving back and contributing positively to their communities, both in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond,” said Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

“It Takes a Community” promotes living examples of immigrants who have made positive contributions to the country and can testify to their work to integrate themselves and add to the Canadian market place and society at large. Minister Mendicino explains the positive value and immediacy of witnesses, “by sharing their stories and speaking up about how our countries, cities and organizations are stronger when we come together, we can all play a role in this campaign to push back against discrimination and create more welcoming and inclusive communities for all."

We can hear the voices of real frontline respondents to COVID-19, such as nurses Ibrahim, Diala, and Yehya, and others or chefs like Adel Nabil, or meat cutters working on the production line who ensure that the country has effective health care and a secure food supply. There are high skilled immigrants like Mokhles who is helping build oxygen generators to supply industrial and medical facilities across Canada, and Anas who works in manufacturing critical goods in Niagara Falls, and entrepreneurs who have opened new businesses and created new jobs. The newcomers from all processing streams – skilled workers, family class and business sponsored family class members, investors and entrepreneurism, and refugee and protected persons – have added to the Canada’s economic growth and international standing. We are a choice destination because of the way we regard others. We can be proud of our county’s history of welcoming newcomers and ensure that it continues into the future.

The campaign launched in March of this year is intended to last twelve months but requires a lifelong commitment from all who value its purpose and its lofty goals. You can add your voice to the initiative by sharing your personal stories on social media under the hash tag “ITTakesaCommunity.” We can all play an important part in supporting the initiative. It starts by understanding the value of immigration to the country and being aware that refugee resettlement is not at the expensive of family sponsorship or skilled worker immigration. Rather refugee resettlement is part of Canada’s international commitments and humanitarian history. We should never forget who we all are as Canadians and that helping others supports Canada’s growth in the 21st century. “It Takes a Community” is a step in the right direction of helping Canada to help others who in turn help others to maintain our place as the choice destination for immigrants.

Michael Scott is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC, R525678) who has 30 years of experience with Immigration Canada and the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program. He currently works as a licensed consultant with Immigration Connexion International Ltd. Contact him at 204-691-1166 or 204-227-0292. E-mail: mscott.ici@gmail.com.

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