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.


Interviewing Rubén Sánchez, Director of 'Zanmi'

Interviewing Rubén Sánchez, Director of 'Zanmi'
Categoria: Communication & Migration
Autor: Laura Manzi

‘Zamni' (2018) is one of the films that participated in the 2020 edition of the Global Migration Film Festival. The short film, which was selected to be screened at regional level by the Regional Office for Central America, North America and the Caribbean, narrates the experiences and daily lives of four Haitian migrants in Chile and their integration process in the South American country.

In this interview, the young director Rubén Sánchez, tells what objectives and motivations guided him towards the creation of the short film.

Why did you choose young Haitian migrants as the protagonists of your work? Is there something in their profile that makes them different from other migrant communities in Chile?

What struck us is that the Haitian population here in Chile is the one that finds it most difficult to integrate into society. One of the main reasons is that they speak another language, the Creole language, and that is an even bigger barrier considering that Chilean Spanish has many idioms and tends to be spoken very quickly. Another obstacle to integration is the racism and rejection of some sectors of society towards the Haitian population: whether because of ethnicity, nationality, language or other prejudices. This leads to more segregation and not integration.

In the short film, there are many scenes that portray different landscapes: the sea, the forest, the city. What is the role of nature in the integration process of migrants?

Climatic conditions and landscapes can be a challenge for integration. For example, Haiti is very flat, there are no mountains and the climate is tropical. Here in Chile, nature and microclimates are quite diverse (the north has higher temperatures, the south is more humid and rainy, while the central zone is a mixture of these).
Nature, however, has also a symbolic purpose in the documentary. The mountain range, which characterizes the Chilean landscape, is the great frontier that any person faces to reach Chile. This justifies the scene that opens and closes the film and represents one of the protagonists in the Embalse del Yeso, which is a place here in Santiago, in the middle of the mountain range. We wanted to film those scenes there as a more oneiric way of representing this enormous wall that is like a border to cross in order to reach Chile, and that at the same time symbolizes the great wall that is in the cultural shock that the Haitian population faces.

‘Life is a circle. A perfect circle of which we are not a part': the protagonists in the film have jobs, go to school, learn Spanish. Then, what are the elements that continue to prevent their integration into the host community, this 'circle' from which they are excluded?

The cultural shock is big. If the host society lives this 'fear of the unknown', the Haitian migrant population in turn reacts and this generates a fear of the community where they live. The lack of integration is made difficult by prejudice and because initiatives that value cultural richness are not promoted. I think this is what we lack as a society: to be more educated. If there is no good education, there will be no people who cannot integrate; we still need to be educated and 'humanized'. I feel that in some way we are also 'dehumanized'. This is what the documentary wants to capture: to reflect on the humanity that we need, the humanity that we need to integrate others, to show that we are all really the same, we are all human beings and we all have dreams.

How much is the director visible in his work? How come are you interested in the subject of migration?

The issue of Haitian migration was, for me, a personal concern, because I live in one of the cities in Chile with the largest Haitian population. I used to witness daily this rejection of the Haitian population in the eyes of the people, in comments that were exchanged by whispering in the bus when I went to the university. I was worried about that.
Also, before I enrolled in audiovisual communication, I studied social work, and had many courses on the migration issue and related social policies. I did a lot of research on Haitian migration, which allowed me to capture the central idea of the short film. During the shooting process, I had the opportunity to meet these young people (Haitian migrants), to live their culture, to taste their food. I was filled with a culture that I didn't know, I was filled with knowledge, with a new experience. I wish this documentary could reach more people, change who we are and cultivate our humanity.