Volunteers sought to mentor new immigrants

The Community Immigrant Mentorship program is on the lookout for newcomers and not-so-new-anymore immigrants to New Westminster
The program, offered by Family Services of Greater Vancouver, pairs established immigrants (mentors) with newcomers, immigrants or refugees.
Launched in January 2010, the program has been fine-tuned to better meet the needs of its participants.
"We started with a leadership program," said facilitator/community liaison Maylen Crespo. "It changed to a mentorship program."
The first mentorship program required a six-month commitment for mentors and newcomers. Participants recommended it be reduced to four months.
"It's a long commitment," Crespo said about six months. "People start getting jobs and getting more involved in the community. It was too long."
The program is now looking for mentors and newcomers wanting to get involved in upcoming classes. Ten mentors and 10 newcomers will participate in sessions getting underway in September and January.
"I have quite a few application for mentors," Crespo said. "To get to newcomers, that is the most difficult thing."
Crespo said people from other communities have expressed an interest in attending the program, but it's really focused on New Westminster.
"The purpose this time is going to be a little bit different. We are going to create a manual on how to run a mentorship program," Crespo added. "It will be for any other communities who want to create a program to support immigrants."
The Community Immigrant Mentorship program
includes weekly workshops for newcomers where they learn about local resources, building relationships and learn the benefits of volunteering.
While the program provides newcomers with important information that helps them settle into New Westminster, Crespo said the guest speakers have also noted that they've gleaned a lot of helpful information from their visits with the newcomers. Guests have included representatives from government (federal, provincial and municipal), and police, health, library and recreation services.
"Every time it is a new session, I learn something new," said Crespo, who immigrated to Canada 10 years ago.
Newcomers who participate in the program have to set a personal goal that they want to accomplish during the four months they're involved with the program, whether that's becoming more active in the community, exploring the city or volunteering. They also have to agree to share their experiences and knowledge with others, which could be something as simple as helping to make others aware of good places to find cheap meals.
"They have to do a practicum," Crespo said. "They have to share information they have learned. The mentor will be assisting them with all of this."
In addition to those weekly sessions, the newcomers and mentors meet to decide how often they'll meet and the sorts of things they'll do to help the newcomers become active members of the community.
Crespo said people who have been mentored through the program have said they have an increased sense of belonging in the community. The mentors, having once been newcomers themselves, enjoyed sharing their knowledge and experiences.
For more information on the free program or to receive an application, contact Maylen Crespo at 604-525-9144 or email mcrespo@fsgv.ca.

Read more:http://www.royalcityrecord.com/life/Program+reaches+Canadians/5300247/story.html#ixzz1W0Vx785p

More immigrants are in Canada's national interest

From Thursday's Globe and Mail

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s announcement that he’s launching stakeholder consultations on Canada’s immigration program presents a timely opportunity for a national conversation. How will we adapt to a century of unprecedented mobility? Will we harness migration to build a more dynamic society and economy, or will we quietly recede from the frontiers of globalization, sacrificing innovation and prosperity for a more static society?

With new policies aimed at clamping down on human smugglers and enhancing U.S.-Canada border security, many perceive that Canada’s door is closing. This is false – so far. Canada accepted 17 per cent more migrants last year than in 2005. In a time of recession when other Western governments are imposing strict limits on migration, Canada admitted 50,000 more migrants in 2010 than in 2009.
Over the past 25 years, the total number of international migrants doubled to more than 200 million. We should expect that number to double again in the next two decades. The world is entering a period of hypermobility, the product of a growing supply of potential migrants from developing countries and a burgeoning demand for both low- and high-skilled workers in developed countries such as Canada. Skype, Western Union, low-cost airlines and other advances are enabling an unprecedented scale of movement.
The drivers of mobility will grow stronger in the coming decades for three reasons:
• Intercountry inequality is increasing rapidly. Millions of Europeans left for the Americas in the late 19th century to seek, among other things, wages that were two to four times higher than those at home. Today, migrants stand to earn as much as 15 times more by moving to another country to work.
• The connected processes of economic development, urbanization and population growth in developing countries are positioning more people to seek their fortunes abroad. Those with the greatest propensity to move are educated young people with access to resources and networks for migration. Climate change will also threaten rural livelihoods, pushing more people into cities and some across borders.
• Demand for migrants will increase as declining fertility and population aging create severe labour shortages, often in developed countries such as Canada. The fiscal burden of an aging population will be borne by a shrinking work force, and staff for nursing homes and retirement facilities will continue to be scarce. Just as Canadian farms rely on temporary foreign workers during harvest time, our elderly population will benefit from the care provided by new Canadians.
We should embrace higher levels of migration because it’s in our national interest. High-skilled migrants innovate at a higher rate than the native-born population, and low-skilled migrants meet crucial service sector gaps. On the whole, migrants contribute more to the public purse than they receive in benefits. It’s no wonder the provinces are seeking increased quotas.
We should also increase levels of migration because it can deliver far more for global prosperity than foreign aid and international trade ever will. Completely opening borders, World Bank economists predict, would produce gains as high as $39-trillion for the world economy over 25 years. These numbers compare with the $70-billion that is currently spent every year in overseas development assistance and the estimated gains of $100-billion from fully liberalizing international trade. If we want to revolutionize our foreign aid policy, we can start by giving more people a chance to work in Canada.
The debate on immigration policy is undermined in many countries by partisan agendas and dysfunctional politics. Other governments are tempted to choke off migration in the interest of short-term expediency and political gain. We must resist this trend, remembering that Canada is a society built with the ingenuity and hard work of generations of migrants.
Geoffrey Cameron, a research associate with the Oxford Martin School at the University of Oxford, works in Ottawa. Ian Goldin is director of the Oxford Martin School and a professorial fellow at Balliol College, Oxford. With Meera Balarajan, they are the authors of Exceptional People: How Migration Shaped Our World and Will Define Our Future.

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