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* Independent topical weblog of current affairs, opinion and issues, featuring stories making news in Canada from the immigrants and newcomers' point of view. Join our Forum

Citizenship Application and Charlottetown Islanders

Charlottetown Islanders: But the Charlottetown Islanders star forward remains focused on his future even as he deals with the cameras, frequent media coverage, various draft ranking updates and a citizenship application that slowly crawling through Canada immigration system. , according to Winnipeg Free Press. It easy to understand how a 17-year-old could get lost in the hoopla that comes with being the subject of consistent scrutiny and exposure. Daniel Sprong season has been full of distractions, including the TV crew that follows him around to document his every move. "I'm playing for my future," Sprong said in a recent interview. "I think it fair to say at the beginning of the year I was focused a lot on off-the-ice things with rankings, what people were saying about me, writing about me. I put a lot of pressure on myself." (www.immigrantscanada.com). As reported in the news.

Canada Immigration and Mexico

Mexico: When the Conservatives passed Bill C-31, otherwise known Protecting Canada Immigration System Act, and the Canadian Council for Refugees CCR were quick to point out the bill deficiencies, most notably hasty timelines and fewer rights for applicants who are from Designated Countries of Origin, according to Rabble. Currently, has created a petition to remove Mexico from the list of Designated Countries of Origin. It has collected over 1,200 signatures, according to an official press release and On Dec. 18, International Migrants Day, the Vancouver chapter of No One Is Illegal demanded the federal government remove Mexico from its list of Designated Countries of Origin used to determine refugee status. "Claimants from these countries to an even more expedited claim process that denies them a reasonable opportunity to prove their refugee claims," reads a statement from CCR. "Claimants from designated countries of origin will also be deprived of basic and emergency health care." (www.immigrantscanada.com). As reported in the news.

Climate Change and Philippine Movement for Climate Justice

Philippine Movement for Climate Justice: "For us it is either death or climate justice," said Gerry Arances, national coordinator for the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice, according to Rabble. The reality of an economic order built on white supremacy is the whispered subtext of our entire response to the climate crisis, and it badly needs to be dragged into the light. I recently had occasion to meet a leading Belgian meteorologist who makes a point of speaking about climate change in her weather reports. But, she told me, her viewers remain unmoved. "People here think that with global warming, the weather in Brussels will be more like Bordeaux -- and they are happy about that." On one level, that understandable, particularly as temperatures drop in northern countries. But global warming won't just make Brussels more like Bordeaux, it will make Haiti more like Hades. And it not possible to be cheerful about the former without, at the very least, being actively indifferent to the latter and The annual United Nations climate summit wrapped up in Lima, Peru, and on its penultimate day, something historic happened. No, not the empty promises from powerful governments to finally get serious about climate action -- starting in 2020 or 2030 or any time other than right now. The historic event was the decision of the climate-justice movement to symbolically join the increasingly global #BlackLivesMatter uprising, staging a "die-in" outside the convention centre much like the ones that have brought shopping malls and busy intersections to a standstill, from the U.S. to the U.K. What does #BlackLivesMatter, and the unshakable moral principle that it represents, have to do with climate change? Everything. Because we can be quite sure that if wealthy white Americans had been the ones left without food and water for days in a giant sports stadium after Hurricane Katrina, even George W. Bush would have gotten serious about climate change. Similarly, if Australia were at risk of disappearing, and not large parts of Bangladesh, Prime Minister Tony Abbott would be a lot less likely to publicly celebrate the burning of coal as "good for humanity," as he did on the occasion of the opening of a vast new coal mine. And if my own city of Toronto were being battered, year after year, by historic typhoons demanding mass evacuations, and not Tacloban in the Philippines, we can also be sure that Canada would not have made building tar sands pipelines the centerpiece of its foreign policy. (www.immigrantscanada.com). As reported in the news.

The Keystone XL Pipeline and Barack Obama

Barack Obama: U.S. President Barack Obama spent five minutes disparaging the potential benefits of the Keystone XL pipeline Friday. , according to Winnipeg Free Press. At a wide-ranging year-end news conference Friday, Obama maintained his recent pattern of expressed skepticism about the project: He played down its job potential, said it wouldn't lower gas prices for Americans and, employing the language of pipeline opponents, said it would merely help Canadian "tar sands" companies export their product overseas. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room in Washington, Friday, Dec. 19, 2014. U.S. President Barack Obama spent five minutes today disparaging the potential benefits of the Keystone XL pipeline project. He then kept it alive with five words. "I'll see what they do." AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster He then kept it alive with five words. (www.immigrantscanada.com). As reported in the news.

University of Waterloo and Hal Mattson

Hal Mattson: Earlier this month, lawyer Hal Mattson won an adjournment on the sentencing of Yiyan Xie, 21, a Chinese national convicted of trying to kill his former girlfriend, Yiyang Hao, a University of Waterloo student. , according to Hamilton Spectator. On Wednesday, Hearn again agreed to adjourn sentencing, this time to Jan. 16. A defence lawyer remains concerned that China could "red-flag" his client for the death penalty. Justice Gary Hearn granted the delay after Mattson said he had just learned that if Xie gets a stiff prison sentence here and is deported, he could be put on trial in China for the Waterloo crime and sentenced to death. (www.immigrantscanada.com). As reported in the news.

Barack Obama

Obama: The key here was undoubtedly the release of U.S. citizen Alan Gross from a prison in Cuba and the corresponding freeing of three suspected Cuban spies in U.S. custody. No normalization of bilateral relations could have happened without these crucial confidence-building measures in place. Related Items Articles Obama gives Cuban regime new life U.S.-Cuba deal means end of golden era for Canadian tourists: experts , according to Winnipeg Free Press. By doing so, the United States and Cuba will now be in a position to discuss a host of bilateral issues -- including drug interdiction, disaster relief, the sharing of medical expertise and immigration -- that will be mutually advantageous to both countries. No longer will political, economic and security interests of Cuba and the United States be held hostage to past grievances and outmoded, Cold War thinking. In a striking departure from past U.S. foreign policy behaviour, U.S. President Barack Obama has agreed to take steps to normalize relations between Washington and Havana. With Canada acting as a key facilitator of U.S.-Cuban discussions, the Obama White House has embarked on a dramatic and long-overdue shift in Cuba policy. This simultaneous release of prisoners allows Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro to begin negotiations on re-establishing diplomatic relations between the two countries -- which were severed more than 50 years ago. According to Obama, the United States will move toward establishing a fully functioning embassy in Havana and permit U.S. officials to meet directly with their Cuban counterparts. (www.immigrantscanada.com). As reported in the news.

Syrian Border and Dan Constable

Dan Constable: The region along the Syrian border was home to many members of the Yazidi minority before extremist fighters swept in last August, killing or abducting hundreds and prompting tens of thousands of refugees to flee through the mountains. , according to Hamilton Spectator. The extremists had erected "defensive fighting positions and safe havens, places where they can engage from," Constable said in a teleconference from an undisclosed base in Kuwait where the Canadian jets are based. Canadian warplanes have been in action in Iraq once again, bombing enemy targets ahead of Kurdish Peshmerga forces which are pushing to completely break the siege in the Sinjar mountains. Col. Dan Constable, the commander of Canada task force for the Iraq mission, says two CF-18s bombed an enemy position about 100 kilometres northwest of Mosul, Iraq second largest city. (www.immigrantscanada.com). As reported in the news.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada and Racquel Talon

Racquel Talon: But there one big part of her life missing: her five children still live in the Philippines. , according to CBC. "I call, but it all the same. 'You have to wait,'" Talon said. "After three months, again I call and it all the same. I have to wait." Eight years after immigrating to Halifax, Racquel Talon has settled into life in Nova Scotia, first working as a live-in caregiver and then opening a house cleaning business with more than 30 clients. Nearly five years after she first applied to Citizenship and Immigration Canada to have them join her, their applications for permanent residence are still being processed. (www.immigrantscanada.com). As reported in the news.

Jamila Bibi and Federal Court of Canada

Federal Court of Canada: The 65-year-old woman was deported from Canada to her native Pakistan in September. She had been living in Saskatoon since 2007. , according to CBC. Bibi lawyer says this was her last chance in the legal system. The Federal Court of Canada has decided against hearing an appeal from Jamila Bibi. When it became clear she would be deported, Bibi friends began a campaign to keep the woman in Canada. (www.immigrantscanada.com). As reported in the news.

Pilot Program

pilot program: Under the Immigrant Investor Venture Capital pilot program announced Tuesday, each investor will be required to make a non-guaranteed investment of $2 million over 15 years and have a net worth of $10 million. , according to CBC. "The funds will be invested in innovative Canadian-based start-ups with high growth potential." The Canadian government will give permanent residency to approximately 50 millionaire immigrant investors and their families under a pilot program set to begin in the new year. "Through the launch of this pilot program, we are attracting investors who can make a significant investment and who have the education and proven business or investment experience necessary to achieve success in Canada," Immigration Minister Chris Alexander said in a news release Tuesday. (www.immigrantscanada.com). As reported in the news.

Agricultural Seasonal Worker Clinic and Clinicas De Salud Para Trabajadores Agricolas Migratorios

Clinicas De Salud Para Trabajadores Agricolas Migratorios: Their focus isn t groceries so much as a unique health office, Clinicas De Salud Para Trabajadores Agricolas Migratorios, or Agricultural Seasonal Worker Clinic , housed in the food chain extra space. The clinic was created to serve the more than 4,000 migrant farm workers toiling at farms and greenhouses in the region south of Brantford, according to The Star. These folks work long hours and have no transportation. Some don t speak the language, said Peter Szota, executive director of the Grand River Community Health Centre, which runs the clinic. This is a great example of breaking down the barriers for access and Migrant farm workers have been lining up at Simcoe Town Centre every Thursday or Friday evening since May for a free shuttle bus to the Real Canadian Superstore three kilometres away. Designed to eliminate some of the systemic barriers migrant workers face in getting basic health care, the pilot project has been a resounding success reducing visits by such workers to the Norfolk General Hospital by 80 per cent. (www.immigrantscanada.com). As reported in the news.

Karyn Freedman and Miriam Toews

Miriam Toews: Literary heavyweights David Bergen, Joan Thomas and Miriam Toews all released new novels to great acclaim and some hardware . On the non-fiction front which was heavy with First World War and hockey tomes , Winnipeg-born Karyn Freedman and local Maurice Mierau produced emotionally charged, highly talked-about memoirs. , according to Winnipeg Free Press. It was a big year for Manitoba-born writers. Here are some of the Free Press book reviewer favourite titles of 2014, both fiction and non-fiction, listed alphabetically by title. (www.immigrantscanada.com). As reported in the news.

Winnipeg and Australia

Australia: A report released Friday by Toronto-based rating agency put Winnipeg in second place in a 50-city comparison spanning Canada, Australia, the U.S. and the U.K. over the past 10 years. The only place that done better is Darwin, Australia. , according to Winnipeg Free Press. 2014 New Homes: The Winnipeg housing market might be starting to slow, but it a well-earned break after a decade spent outperforming places such as New York, Toronto and Sydney, Australia. Winnipeg steady-as-she-goes housing market has served the city well for the past decade. Here' a quick snapshot of where things are in the market right now: (www.immigrantscanada.com). As reported in the news.

First Nations and Perry Bellegarde

Perry Bellegarde: One new issue that Perry Bellegarde, newly elected chief of the Assembly of First Nations, raised was the suggestion that people moving from reserves to the cities be supported in the same manner as new citizens coming to Canada. Implementation of this suggestion would ensure aboriginal people have a much better start in the city and ultimately significantly more opportunity for success. If we can afford to offer these services job training, housing assistance etc. to immigrants, then surely we should provide similar if not more assistance to First Nations on a one-time basis. Send a Letter to the Editor , according to Winnipeg Free Press. To send a letter for consideration on our Letters page: Fill out our online form at the link above, or Email letters@freepress.mb.ca, or Fax 204 697-7412, or Mail Letters to the Editor, 1355 Mountain Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R2X 3B6. Support indigenous relocation The Free Press welcomes letters from readers (www.immigrantscanada.com). As reported in the news.

Richard Gwyn and John A. Macdonald

John A. Macdonald: Born in Scotland, Macdonald emigrated as a boy with his family to Kingston, Ont. where he was educated and built a legal practice before beginning political life in the 1840s. A rigorous thinker, bon vivant , political survivor, a man of culture, sometimes a problem drinker and always a wily adversary, Macdonald extraordinary life has been well chronicled by able biographers including the late Donald Creighton and the Toronto Star own Richard Gwyn. Canada Transformed , however, is the first attempt to gather a comprehensive selection of Macdonald public political utterances in a single volume, according to The Star. Sources of the oratory include accounts published in colonial newspapers as recounted by journalists and the sometimes sketchy legislative and parliamentary transcriptions of Macdonald era. The newspaper business flourished in Macdonald time, but technology did not allow for verbatim recording. Macdonald voice on these pages is reconstructed and no doubt shaped to some extent by the memories, attitudes and deadline haste of nineteenth-century political reporters. Parliamentary debates were not officially transcribed until 1875, almost a decade after confederation. The editors usefully provide a concise introduction and helpful footnotes that provide context while maintaining a readable tone and pace for a general, rather than strictly scholarly, readership and January 10, 2015 will mark the 200th anniversary of John A. Macdonald birth. So begins a year of commemoration and celebration of Canada first Prime Minister. It a suitable preliminary to the 2017 sesquicentennial of the Canadian state Macdonald helped form. Editors historian Sarah Katherine Gibson and journalist/political speech writer Arthur Milnes have assembled a useful compendium ranging in chronology from the beginnings of Macdonald political career to his final words in Parliament spoken just weeks prior to his death in 1891. (www.immigrantscanada.com). As reported in the news.

Catherine Farquharson and Sean Evans

Sean Evans: During the first eight years that Sean Evans, a 43-year-old business coach, lived on a quiet street in the St. Clair West area, he rarely talked to the neighbours on his block. Then, last fall, his girlfriend, photographer Catherine Farquharson, gave him what looks a bit like an oversized birdhouse for books: a peak-roofed box with a glass door and a shelf, installed firmly on a 4X4 post sunk into their front lawn. More Related to this Story, according to Globe and Mail. Looking for a good caper? Here are six new crime books you should read In a city etched with stubborn social divisions, it remarkable how a wooden box full of old books can bring a community together. Fort York branch a rebuke to the Fords and much more (www.immigrantscanada.com). As reported in the news.

Catherine Swift and Monica Pohlmann

Monica Pohlmann: Catherine Swift, chair of the board of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, was interviewed on Aug. 1 by Monica Pohlmann. Possible Canadas on innovation and economy, according to Globe and Mail. CEO Annette Verschuren: We are polarized on the environment In a six-week series of interviews, Canadians with a variety of experiences discuss the major challenges our country is facing and how best to address them. This instalment deals with increasing the innovativeness of our economy. Zahra Ebrahim on the power of innovation: Designers are a critical part of any strategic team (www.immigrantscanada.com). As reported in the news.

CD Howe Institute and Adam Kahane

Adam Kahane: Bill Robson, president and chief executive officer of the CD Howe Institute, was interviewed on Oct. 20 by Adam Kahane. Possible Canadas on innovation and economy, according to Globe and Mail. CEO Annette Verschuren: We are polarized on the environment In a six-week series of interviews, Canadians with a variety of experiences discuss the major challenges our country is facing and how best to address them. This instalment deals with increasing the innovativeness of our economy. Zahra Ebrahim on the power of innovation: Designers are a critical part of any strategic team (www.immigrantscanada.com). As reported in the news.

Exercise Video

exercise video: So, a curious thing happened last week. I was all finished posting the FGF, and I was feeling pretty great, smug even, when I saw it. The infamous exercise video. Apparently I'd been living under a rock because I had not seen it yet, even though it was probably "all the rage" and most of you will be all " I saw this last month. ", according to Rabble. Happy Friday and It time for another Feel Good Friday. Regardless, I proceeded to watch this video. Over and over again. It mystique and power pulled me in. And, perhaps, informed this Feel Good Friday a little too much? You decide. (www.immigrantscanada.com). As reported in the news.

Syrian Refugees

Syrian refugees: Statistics tabled in the House of Commons last week showed 457 refugees had arrived as of mid-November. Syrian refugees arrive in Nova Scotia Syrian refugees: UN agency counting on Canada to boost commitment Amnesty International calls Syrian refugee assistance pitiful , according to CBC. Refugee advocacy organizations in Canada have been asking the government to take in 10,000 more Syrians over the next two years, and the UN says it is in dire need of assistance as the civil war intensifies. Why no commitments in Geneva? Canada has been struggling to meet an earlier commitment from July 2013 to resettle 1,300 Syrians by the end of this year. On Tuesday, the government updated that number to 703. Kevin Menard, a spokesman for the immigration minister, wrote News on Friday saying the numbers are "going up fairly quickly." (www.immigrantscanada.com). As reported in the news.

Hamilton Woman Abuse Working Group and Bill Cosby

Bill Cosby: The 77-year-old has been under fire in recent weeks as a total of 19 women have accused him of sexual abuse. Actress and model Beverly Johnson was the latest to come forward this week and allege that Cosby had drugged her decades ago. , according to CBC. In a press release, the Hamilton Woman Abuse Working Group says it is deeply concerned that Cosby performance is still going ahead as scheduled in the midst of such serious public allegations of sexual violence. Hamilton Woman Abuse Working Group is telling the public to denounce Bill Cosby upcoming Hamilton show and is planning to protest if it goes ahead. None of the allegations have been proven in court. Bill Cosby Hamilton show still on amid sex assault allegations Kitchener Bill Cosby fans should evaluate support, says sex assault support centre (www.immigrantscanada.com). As reported in the news.

Jason Kenney and Social Development Canada

Social Development Canada: On Tuesday, Minister of Employment Jason Kenney confirmed to The Globe and Mail plans to bolster Employment and Social Development Canada with more staff as nearly 10,000 Canadians complained about poor service, unanswered phone calls and long waiting times for EI inquiries, according to Rabble. The government has cut the number of EI processing centres from 120 to 19 across the country, according to the Public Service Alliance of Canada Around 30 per cent of callers to EI report being unable to reach a representative for help with their benefits claims, reporting instead that they recieve nothing but automated messages and People waiting for employment insurance EI benefits may get their questions answered sooner than before, as the federal government has promised to add around 400 new public servants in order to deal with a high number of complaints. The same day Kenney made his statement, NDP MP Nycole Turmel noted in question period that processing delays have increased by 54 per cent since 2006 and the number of complaints have spiked by 40 per cent this year alone. (www.immigrantscanada.com). As reported in the news.

Geographical Distance and Friendship

friendship: An immigrant from India lovingly wrote about his friend enduring support to help him get settled in Canada, according to The Star. This fall, asked readers to tell us about a special friendship that changed their lives in a meaningful way. We received dozens of emails and letters describing bonds that bridged geographical distance, age differences and cultural beliefs. Some ties persisted since childhood, others popped up fortuitously in mid-life or later and We heard from The Sisterhood, nine retired teachers whose friendship has survived nearly 50 years and a van trip to Nova Scotia. One woman talked about a childhood pal who stayed a steadfast friend through eight decades of letter-writing. (www.immigrantscanada.com). As reported in the news.

Syria and Chaker Al Samman

Chaker Al Samman: Years after fleeing war-torn Syria, the parents and 27-year-old brother of a Lower Sackville man arrived with only what they could carry in half a dozen suitcases to start a new life. , according to CBC. "He says they had two bombs on our street and he got scared," Al Samman translated for his father Bassam, who speaks Arabic. Hugs, kisses on both cheeks, joyful cries. There was an emotional reunion at the Halifax Stanfield Airport Thursday night as grandparents embraced grandchildren they had never seen before. Chaker Al Samman last visited his parents in Syria four and a half years ago but it been two years since they fled Damascus abandoning their home and clothing shop. (www.immigrantscanada.com). As reported in the news.

Ancaster Old Town Hall

Ancaster Old Town Hall: Embrace the holiday spirit at the Ancaster Old Town Hall on Friday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Enjoy the live music, hot cider, festive treats, quilt raffle draw and Christmas Tree Awards. A delightful concert and carol singalong with the Kaleidoscope Singers will also take place. , according to Hamilton Spectator. Town singalong Admission is $10 per person or $20 per family. The Ancaster Old Town Hall is located at 310 Wilson St. E. in Ancaster. hamilton.ca/index.htm (www.immigrantscanada.com). As reported in the news.

Carolyn Bechard and Christmas Tradition

Christmas tradition: Carolyn Bechard remembers her mother spending evenings at the kitchen table writing out cards paired with family portraits as a part of their Christmas tradition one she has also embraced as her own. , according to Winnipeg Free Press. "I understand for some people it doesn't and that OK. But for me, it wouldn't feel like the holidays if I wasn't giving out Christmas cards." Carolyn Bechard writes in a Christmas card as her youngest son Asher, 1, sits with her at their home in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday December 11, 2014. Bechard remembers her mother spending evenings at the kitchen table writing out cards paired with family portraits as a part of their Christmas tradition - one she has also embraced as her own. THE Darryl Dyck "I am very much a traditionalist," said Bechard, who is behind the blog Moments in Mommyland. "I have very specific things I remember growing up with, and by doing those, it kind of brings me joy and brings me back to my own childhood. So tradition definitely plays a part in it but it just makes me happy. (www.immigrantscanada.com). As reported in the news.
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