In May 2019, MIREMS VP Silke Reichrath attended the Canadian Immigration Summit 2019 organized by the Conference Board of Canada. The declared aim of the meet was to “explore how Canada can respond proactively to emerging immigration issues in a rapidly changing world”.
During two intensive days of presentations, workshops and informal discussion, participants engaged around immigration levels, ways to select the best immigrants, settlement and integration, credential recognition, special barriers faced by female immigrants, and finally causes of and responses to populism and racism.
As far as we could see, while many of the issues involved the need to understand and communicate, ethnic and multicultural media was MIA in most of these discussions.
Unfortunately, the role of the Canadian multilingual media, domestic ethnic as well as homeland, was barely addressed. It is not only a valuable early warning system for issues in the community, but also an indispensable outreach tool to newcomers and potential immigrants alike. It is even instrumental in dispelling false information and rumors about immigrating to Canada.
Missing this information were the roughly 300 federal, provincial and municipal staff working on immigration and settlement policy, settlement agencies and other community organizations, immigration consultants, academics and Conference Board of Canada members in attendance. Many were from the growing for-profit and not-for-profit industry supporting immigrants: immigration consultants, investment and start-up business consultants, employment services, settlement services, boards of trade and chambers of commerce, professional associations responsible for accreditation, language learning and testing services and multicultural associations.
Municipal staff were mostly from smaller municipalities grappling with redirecting immigration to their cities: Guelph, Hamilton, London (Ontario), Sudbury, Ottawa, Moncton, Morden and Calgary and Atlantic provinces showed notable provincial interest.
The general consensus was that more immigrants are needed to replace retiring baby-boomers and grow the workforce. The goal is to optimize the selection criteria and the integration process, with coordinated and accessible immigrant services ideally starting before arrival, taking into consideration that 56% of immigrants are women, who have a lower labour force participation rate and higher unemployment rate than Canadian women, and encouraging more immigration to Canada’s far North.
Presenters said that to respond to current sentiments, Canada needs to remain a country of law as well as a country of immigration and needs to ensure generosity is not taken advantage of. Messaging should highlight immigrants as talented assets and risk-takers who benefit society, not as a problem to be ‘fixed’ and integrated.
Informal one on one discussions showed an interest in ethnic media mostly from the outreach perspective and conveying information about available services and programs to newcomer audiences. However, if you want to sell, speak the language of the buyer, and that means not only the words but the context – knowing the media in which you place your stories is essential to their success.
While large metropolitan areas like Toronto and Vancouver have very extensive ethnic media landscapes, smaller cities and provinces are just starting to build this media infrastructure, and it is important to reach out to them and get to know them.
Many have a handful of papers run by local entrepreneurs catering to their own language communities and weekly radio programs in minority languages run on community or campus stations. These local programs tend to grow and eventually lead to the establishment of a multicultural station with slots for a variety of groups. Most of these papers and programs are more than happy to convey information and allow space for discussion with service providers and local officials.
MIREMS Ltd. – Multilingual International Research and Ethnic Media Services has been providing media monitoring and outreach services to government, private sector and non-profit organizations for the past 30 years. Our web site at www.mirems.com contains a wealth of information that can help you get familiar with the multilingual media in your community. Don’t miss our regular blogs, as well as please visit our not-for profit citizenship education effort at www.diversityvotes.ca. Want to know the ethnic population of your local ridings and what media they read? We have merged our media intelligence with riding statistics developed by Andrew Griffith, author of the not to be missed www.multiculturalmeanderings.com. Check it out!