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.


Responding to hate speech against migrants in social media: What can you do?

Responding to hate speech against migrants in social media: What can you do?
Categoria: Migrant Protection and Assistance
Autor: Guest Contributor

"We all have to remember that hate crimes are preceded by hate speech." This is how Adama Dieng, UN's Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, starts the Stopping Hate Speech video. "We have to bear in mind that words kill. Words kill as bullets", he continued.

To speak about hate speech it is necessary to refer to Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The article stresses the importance of freedom of expression, but it also calls attention to the responsibilities that come with it. 

The United Nations has recently launched the "UN Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech", to strengthen UN actions that address the causes of hate speech, and the impact this discourse has within societies. Among other measures, the strategy includes monitoring and analyzing data, using technology, and engaging with new and traditional media. It also encourages more research on the relationship between the misuse of the Internet and social media for spreading hate speech, and the factors that drive individuals towards violence.

Just like the UN must assume responsibility, traditional media oulets also face challenges in guaranteeing that the information they offer on migrants is conscientious and data-based (here are some recommendations on how to do this).

But beyond these institutional responsibilities, the reality is that thousands of people publish hate filled content on their social media every day, sometime explicitly calling for violent actions against migrant populations and other vulnerable groups. What can each of us do to fight back against this content?

  • Speak up against hate: Silence and apathy can be taken as acceptance. Comments on social networks are more than just words, and should not be seen as harmless, especially when social networks are a source of information for migrants and contribute to their experiences. According to the Department of Justice of the United States, "insults can escalate to harassment, harassment can escalate to threats, and threats to physical violence." Intervening assertively is important both in the digital world and in face-to-face situations. However, it is necessary to assess the risk in each context to avoid dangerous situations.
  • Create positive content: To counteract the weight of hate speech, it is necessary to create and share empathetic information. According to Cristina Gallach, High Commissioner for the 2030 Agenda, to combat this problem, we must present images that appeal to the best of us, and focus on powerful and universal messages that unite us through our shared values.
  • Avoid sharing sensational videos and photos: Even when it is to criticize this type of content, sharing it will increase traffic to the channels and users that broadcast negative media.
  • Report on the platform: Each social network has its own guidelines on which content is acceptable or not not. While there are teams dedicated to verify this information, in many cases it is necessary to report it for it to be seen. Facebook continually checks if there are new vulnerable populations that should be included in their protected categories, and on previous occasions, migrants have fit within this group. According to the Facebook hard questions blog:

"When the influx of migrants arriving in Germany increased in recent years, we received feedback that some posts on Facebook were directly threatening refugees or migrants. We investigated how this material appeared globally and decided to develop new guidelines to remove calls for violence against migrants or dehumanizing references to them — such as comparisons to animals, to filth or to trash. But we have left in place the ability for people to express their views on immigration itself."

There is a whole discussion about whether social media companies are the ones who should define, in their own platforms, what constitutes freedom of expression and what constitutes hate speech, but that is material for another blog. Here you can see what kind of content to report in Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

  • Report to the authorities: When there are personal threats to the physical integrity or the lives of others, it is time to report the situation to the competent authorities to intervene. Since the digital world moves faster than changes in laws, there may be "holes" in the regulations that will hinder intervention. Documenting hazardous materials through screenshots and collecting as much information as possible about the aggressor before they close their account will be useful for the reporting process. Platforms and companies can also be reported if they spread violent content. For example, a few months after the massacres in two mosques in Christchurch (New Zealand), the Australian government approved new legislation against spaces that do not quickly eliminate "violent and abominable material".

“We need to use the verb to become a tool for peace, a tool for love, a tool for increase social cohesion”, said Adama, later in the video. Let’s speak up against hate speech.