Saturday, December 3, 2011

Toronto as a model for diversity

© Fatih Cicek
I just attended the Diversity-congress in Cologne which was organized by the Maytree Foundation, Bertelsmann and the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Integration (MAIS) of North-Rhine Westfalia. Experts from Canada and different areas presented their immigrant integration practices and projects. I just wanted to make these great projects more public, since I have the opportunity to transfer them to the European societies.

Countries all over the world are struggling with immigration. Canada is certainly one of the countries with the biggest minority population in the world. Actually, the people with immigration background - as the germans say - do not really constitute a minority any more. Toronto has for instance an immigrants ratio of almost 50 per cent. Alan Broadbent, founder and Chairman of the Maytree Foundation said, that Canada wants to see immigrants as assets, not as liabilities, in which they want to invest. The hyper-diversity can not be ignored, he said. 

Labour Market
© Fatih Cicek
Finding a job, finding the right job, is probably the single most critical indicator of successful settlement in integration for an immigrant. Most of them are skilled, have a university degree.  Elizabeth McIsaac presented the TRIEC, an organization, which tries to promote skilled immigrants, to connect skilled immigrants to the right jobs and to hire their qualifications, through mentoring, workshops and finding professional connections and networks for them. 95 per cent of the volunteer mentors said - after the relationship with their mentees - they would offer their immigrant colleagues a job. However, to the question, if they have also projects to promote non-skilled immigrants, McIsaac could not give an answer. "We are not perfect, but we will improve our work in the future" she said.

Education and Media
The Toronto District School Board is the largest school board in Canada, is recognized as one of the most diverse in the world and serves almost 259,000 students. 68 per cent of them are born outside Canada. Its aim is to sustain high levels of excellence for "all" students. 
© Fatih Cicek
What I found quite interesting were the Community and Faith Walks for the teachers. The goal of that was to "support educators in being responsive and relevant in their teaching practices by bridging any gaps between the home, school and community", said Donna Quan. The participants of this program visited places of worship such as mosques, temples, churches and synagogues. It seems that the leaders of TDSB have understood the necessity of the interfaith and intercultural dialogue. These walks effected a lot. The students appreciated their teachers for trying to understand their students faiths and cultures. "They increased trust and faith in our schools. They feel that we care enough to go into their space, instead of them always coming to us, us going to them, is just as important." Hardly surprising! If you ask me, these students represent the global future.
Matt Galloway, a Broadcaster of the Canadian radio channel CBC, struggled for creating  diversity within the media, to integrate the immigrant communities. He tried to change the non-diverse audience into a diverse audience, which did not clash with the reality, that there was a 50 percent visible minority in Toronto. For instance, the CBC broadcasted an interview with a kidnapped girl`s mom in their original language. Of course, you did not have to understand what she said, to get the emotions that were in that voice. This experiment changed the way the city felt.  Since I asked him for an interview, you will read more about him, his projects and the lectures we should draw from them.

Lectures for us
Actually hearing of some of these great ideas draws everyone to think of our policies in Europe, especially in Germany. Giving the immigrants a feeling of being welcomed in our nation should be our main goal. The world is becoming more and more global like a small village. The future lies in the diversity - diversity within the media, the schools, the economic life or in politics. There are already medial projects like the CBC, such as the DIB-Platform, Ebru TV, MiGAZIN or others in Germany. But we need to expand them!

1 comment:

  1. It's very interesting. I like your reports.

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