Immigration Matters: How immigrants are relevant to Canada’s development

Immigration Matters: How immigrants are relevant to Canada’s development

At the end of 2018, the Marketing and Media Department of the Immigration, Refugees, & Citizenship Canada (IRCC) launched the #ImmigrationMatters Campaign, to promote a positive and fact-based public perception of immigration. The campaign was based on the analysis of annual surveys (IRCC has conducted them for the past 25 years!) and focus groups carried out with members of the public across a variety of communities.

The pillars of fact-based communication, storytelling, non-traditional partnerships of the campaign had shown stories of immigrants whose initiatives make Canada a better place for everyone. Such is the case of Javier Bravo, originally from Mexico City, and his online platform where users can send gift certificates that can be used at Peterborough businesses; Igor Bjelac, a Serbian immigrant and his group of volunteers who gather unsold food for people in need in Vancouver (the city with the second largest immigrant population in the country); or Roshni Bahl, who grow up in India and understands how to look after seniors properly.

The campaign’s website contains lots of information regarding stories across Canada,theCanada’s immigration system, and track record. In this last section, the campaign details some facts on how Canada’s immigration system works for both nationals and foreigners. Here are some good inputs to consider when thinking about migrants’ contribution to the destination country:

  • Immigrants contribute to the economy: The Canadian economy is partially calculated by the labour force and their payment of taxes. The more immigrants working, the stronger the labour force gets, especially when the national population is getting older, retiring, and not having as many children as before. The top occupations invited to immigrate under the “Express Entry program” are software engineers and designers, information systems analysts, computer programmers, financial auditors and accountants, as well as advertising, marketing and public relations professionals.
  • Immigrants deliver and improve the health and social services: Many immigrants arriving in Canada are young and pay for the health system more than what they need its benefits. According to the Canadian Council for Refugees, the cost of healthcare for a refugee or refugee claimant, is the 10% of is usually invested in a Canadian. This lower use of the healthcare system is known as the “healthy immigrant” effect.
  • Immigrants integrate fully into Canadian society: Did you know that about one-third of immigrants in Canada have volunteered, and two-thirds are part of social organizations? And the more involved they are with their new home, the more they want to give: According to Statistics Canada, “the immigrants and their descendants who are integrated into a local personal network and participate in community activities, such as religious practices, are more likely to have a higher number of acquaintances with neighbourhood residents, to trust their neighbours and to volunteer.”

The mixed of the immigration system and a sense of belonging results in nearly 85% of the immigrants become citizens after taking a test about Canada’s history and the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship: one of the highest naturalization rates in the world.

We invite you to look into more stories and facts by visiting their website, and to share your own experiences on social media about why #ImmigrantsMatters.


In a distant country, Erick daydreams - #MigrantsDay

In a distant country, Erick daydreams - #MigrantsDay
Categoria: Return and Reintegration
Autor: Laura Manzi

Story based on the testimony of Erick Galeas, a returnee.

The outbound journey

The heat was suffocating, as if the breaths of fresh air had forgotten that point in the world, where an immense dryness permeated every corner. The ground burned, the sun gave no truce. And this was no small matter: Erick hated the heat, which only made him feel tired and weak.

On those long days with his skin so exposed to the sun, he would try to find some place in the shade to relax for a little while, alone with his thoughts. It may seem absurd, but at that moment, instead of worrying and being overcome by fear and agitation due to the long-awaited trip, the only thing he could think of was that sweater that he intended to buy once arrived in the United States. He wanted to live in a cold place, this was clear to him, to buy a lot of coats and scarves, and to have frozen hands. Wasn't that part of the American dream too? To be able to escape that dryness and have a closet full of sweaters?

The city of Tijuana, in Mexico, served as the setting for Erick's mental wanderings. It had been also his temporary residence for almost a month. Residence, not home. Erick had been living far away from home for nine months, since he left Honduras and began his journey: one day in Guatemala, one month in Chiapas, six months in Veracruz, then Ciudad Juárez and now there, Tijuana. Nine long months treasuring the desire to be able to find better economic opportunities and support his family that he left behind, which was enthusiastic about the idea of being able to receive some remittances.

To fight for his wish, Erick had to pay for his trip by working, doing whatever job he could find, often up to sixteen hours a day for a paltry salary. But that was not a time to be discouraged, because the next day Erick was going to cross the Mexican border into the United States, after having paid 7 thousand dollars  to a smuggler who promised to finally take him to his destination. This is how Erick's last trip to the north began: early in the morning, on any given Tuesday.

You may have noticed that Erick's imagination led him to daydreaming very often, and at the beginning of his journey, after months of malnutrition, he was wondering what his first meal in the US would have tasted like. Surely it would have been the most delicious meal of the last nine months, a meal that tastes of success ... And then wham!, his reverie was suddenly interrupted. An immigration police officer instantly nullified all of Erick's efforts, who was arrested shortly after. But that was not the end of his journey; little did he know that he still had six months to spend in detention: first in California, then in Arizona, Ohio, Louisiana, and Michigan. In his fantasy there were no police officers or detainees; however, this was the only image that Erick could capture from the United States.

How angry he felt when the comments of people who said "it is easy to get to the United States" and "it is a matter of one, maximum two weeks" came to mind. The lack of truthful and adequate information had been an accomplice to his misadventure. Erick was tired, disappointed, and alone. He was also afraid, because in the detention centers there were not only migrants seeking a better life, but also some common criminals who intimidated others, exacerbating their feelings of discomfort. For Erick, the only chance for peace was those few minutes of calls that he could share with his family. He told them that he was afraid that the US authorities would deport him to Honduras, and on the 175th day of his arrest, that was precisely what happened.

The return journey 

A bittersweet taste marked Erick's return. Not being able to fulfill his long-awaited American dream made him feel frustrated, almost ashamed and humiliated. His overwhelming sense of failure disappeared for a moment when, after almost a year and a half, he could finally hug his son. "Children grow up so fast," Erick thought. But the little boy was not the only one who had grown up in all that time; Erick had also gone through an enormous process of personal growth, and he had acquired an incredible strength.

Oh, and there was also the Honduran food. That really made his return happy!

It was not easy, it was not quick, but after a long path, on a day like today we can imagine Erick dealing with his daily tasks at his handicraft company in Honduras. His small family-run atelier became a company that sells its products nationwide: souvenir-type crafts that include a large sample of boats, helicopters and airplanes, all made of wood. It is a business that allows him and his family to live with better economic conditions than when Erick decided to venture to the United States.

His work activity was also able to flourish thanks to the help of the IOM (International Organization for Migration), which provided him with the necessary machinery for his work, and also to the CASM (Mennonite Social Action Commission), whose course on entrepreneurship strengthened Erick's management skills. The feeling of frustration that he experienced when he returned to Honduras has been transformed step by step into a feeling of satisfaction and happiness a he saw his business growing and gained greater confidence in himself, in his talent and ability. The training courses and the support provided helped him through a difficult process of return and reintegration, and empowered the young migrant on his return home.

Erick was able to build his economic subsistence and his professional fulfillment in Honduras, and among so many complex and unfortunate stories, this is a story with a happy ending. Even so, from time to time, he cannot help but daydream, thinking about what it would be like to travel to the United States again, this time legally, and stay there, even just for one day: to eat at a different restaurant and buy a thick winter sweater.