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.


7 recommendations to promote the inclusion of migrants in host communities through social and cultural activities.

Categoria: Pacto Mundial sobre Migración
Autor: Carlos Escobar

The promotion of social and cultural activities as a mechanism to encourage interaction between migrants and host communities with the aim of advancing in the construction of more just and peaceful societies, is currently a topic of special interest in studies, policies and programs on migrant inclusion and social cohesion.

Taking Intergroup Contact Theory (IGCT) as a reference, different researches argue that the interaction of people from different places and contexts, under the right circumstances, favors trust and the change of xenophobic or discriminatory perceptions. Thus, intergovernmental agreements such as the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration have integrated this perspective into their theoretical and conceptual body. In particular, Goal 16 "Empower migrants and societies to achieve full inclusion and social cohesion", calls for the creation of community centres or programs at the local level to facilitate the participation of migrants in the receiving society by engaging migrants, community members, diaspora organizations, migrant associations and local authorities in intercultural dialogue, exchange of experiences, mentoring programs and the creation of business linkages that enhance integration outcomes and foster mutual respect.

Based on the analysis and review of different research, the IOM, in its publication The Power of Contact: Designing, Facilitating and Evaluating Social Mixing Activities to Strengthen Migrant Integration and Social Cohesion Between Migrants and Local Communities – A Review of Lessons Learned, proposes a series of recommendations, based on empirical evidence, to encourage the participation of migrants and receiving communities in social and cultural activities.

1). Fun and goal-oriented

Designing and incorporating fun and exciting activities leads to a lighter and more welcoming environment for people to meet, interact and create social bonds. At the same time, setting common goals, which neither group can achieve without the participation of the other (cooperative interdependence), makes the activities more engaging and participatory.

2). Mutual appreciation

Participants should understand, recognize and appreciate culture, traditions and history as part of the process of bridging differences, maximizing each other's strengths and identifying commonalities. It is important that all individuals are able to identify how their contributions can have a positive impact on the achievement of common goals.

3). Shared ownership

Involving migrants and local communities in all phases of activities will increase their participation. This ownership empowers them, raises their self-esteem and opens up new opportunities for responsibility and commitment.

4). Guided Reflection

Dialogues and activities that allow for a certain degree of reflection help to create an atmosphere that is perceived as trusting, friendly and warm. Processing information and sharing personal and sensitive stories, which can evoke memories, are of utmost importance as long as they are carefully guided and accompanied by facilitators or project members.

5). Supervision and Trust Facilitation

Those responsible for group interactions, such as team leaders, facilitators, project staff or event planners, must play an active role in promoting equality within intergroup relations and creating an inclusive environment for all. This deliberate effort is crucial to overcome the natural tendency of participants to group themselves according to their most salient characteristics and status.

6). Sustained and regular intervention

It goes without saying that the more frequent, prolonged and intensive the participation, the better the attitude of each individual towards others. This means adopting an approach that rethinks the role of the people involved, who in turn will define the needs of their communities and ultimately take part in the design and organization of appropriate interventions.

7). Institutional support and partnership

The support of institutions such as local governments, media, government agencies and intermediary organizations is critical to promoting and facilitating constructive efforts to strengthen intergroup relations. The coordination of these institutions creates a system that can provide resources and incentives to promote and strengthen intergroup relations.

Social and cultural activities, understood as a programmatic intervention strategy to facilitate the inclusion of migrants in receiving communities, are important to the extent that they offer non-institutional spaces for interaction, where through spontaneous human contact, social ties are built based on experiences, stories, emotions and life trajectories of the participants. This facilitates the generation of trust between individuals, greater degrees of social cohesion and, of course, peaceful coexistence in communities, understood not only as the absence of conflict, but also as a positive, dynamic and participatory process in which dialogue is promoted and conflicts are resolved in a spirit of mutual understanding and cooperation, through the acceptance of differences, the ability to listen, recognize, respect and appreciate others. (UN, 2021).