Left to Right: Janine Freeman MLA, Member for Mirrabooka; Hon. Mark McGowan MLA, Premier of Western Australia; Margaret Eaton, Executive Director, Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC); Anna Kostecka, Senior Manager, Learning and Inclusive Workplaces, TRIEC; and Huss Mustafa OAM, General Manager, Multicultural Community Banking Australia, Commonwealth Bank.
Canada has built an international reputation for its welcoming and inclusive society. Take a glance at the demographics of major Canadian cities, and you’ll see they’re made up of people from a myriad of cultures and ethnicities. Many newcomers already know that diversity is Canada’s strength even before they land – perhaps that is why so many decide to begin new chapters of their lives here.
Domestically, Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Ahmed Hussen, has proposed ambitious immigration targets for the coming years: nearly one million immigrants will settle in Canada between 2018-2020. Internationally, Canada shares insights and best practices with other nations the world-over. In fact, both the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has consulted with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and Ministry of Citizenship Ontario. Even Germany, a country that has welcomed a million refugees in 2015 alone, has been looking to Canada for creative solutions to better integrate newcomers and hold back surging anti-immigration sentiments rising from extreme populism movements in their own country. Canada is also inspiring Scandinavian countries like Demark and Norway with its immigration and integration policy. So it’s not uncommon for Canada to be praised for its international leadership when it comes to promoting diversity and inclusion. Last year, the UNHCR’s chief Filippo Grandi spoke glowingly of Canada for being a “champion” for refugees.
The work continues in our own city: TRIEC has hosted delegations from Norway and Sweden in Toronto, as well as members of parliament from France. Earlier this month, the Finnish Ministry of Education visited our offices to explore how we can all utilize newcomer talent and skills to build a more inclusive workforce. TRIEC has also been invited to participate in a number of conferences and summits abroad, including the Welcoming Economies Convening Employer Panel last fall in Syracuse, New York, where representatives from Canadian organizations in the space had an opportunity to connect and share best practices with its fellow counterparts in the U.S. Just recently TRIEC partnered with the City of Stirling on their Kaleidoscope Initiative in Western Australia. The project aims to help newcomers find employment in their areas of expertise and connect them to a network of employers. TRIEC was selected as a partner by Sarah Janali, one of project manager of the initiative, who travelled across Europe, the United States, and Canada with the Churchill Fellowship to explore innovative municipal models and programs that enhanced integration and participation of immigrants and refugees.
Canada has a special role as a leader that others around the world look to when championing their own immigration and settlement policy. But with it comes an important responsibility that it should be proud to carry out. TRIEC plays a small role in this effort but it would not be possible without the incredible partnerships with businesses, community, and government stakeholders. It takes such tremendous partnerships like these to lead in such an important space.