Talking to Children About Immigration

Canada is a cultural mosaic comprised of different ethnicities, languages, and cultures. Children may recognize differences amongst their peers in relation to their cultural practices, communication style, language, religious practices, food preferences, attire, and appearance. These differences may spark some questions about immigration and diversity.

Here are some ideas to help guide your conversation:

Immigration

Statistics Canada describes immigration as the granted right to live in Canada permanently by immigration authorities. Individuals who immigrate to Canada from another country are called immigrants.

Each country holds different cultural practices and traditions. These differences may not be familiar to you or your child. Share the history of immigration and how this has contributed to diversity in our communities. It is important to recognize, accept, and respect these differences.

Differences are Valuable

The Government of Canada explains that we “recognize diversity as a source of strength and work to champion inclusive attitudes and encourage the adoption of inclusive approaches that lead to the full and meaningful participation of all.”

Research and education on different ethnic groups is a great way to understand multiculturalism. Share your discoveries with your child. Teach your child the value of diversity. Use simple examples to spark excitement, such as exposure to new food, new languages, new experiences, and more!

Immigrants bring diverse knowledge and experience to Canada. The Burnaby Intercultural Planning Table has shared these valuable benefits of multiculturalism:

  • As more immigrants become settled, communities benefit from new cultural celebrations and more diverse cultural foods, music and arts at local festivals
  • Schools develop cross-cultural curriculum, which broadens all children’s understanding of the world and their neighbours
  • Ethnic restaurants, grocery stores and clothing stores add flavour and colour to communities, attracting new residents and tourists, and adding to the vitality of the community.

For business and economic growth:

  • Skilled immigrants are a key source of information for Canadian companies in the new global economy
  • Immigrants can open doors to investment opportunities overseas and help attract foreign investment in Canada
  • Newcomers bring new education and work experience and an understanding of a global business context
  • Foreign direct investment into Canada is greater from countries that are well represented in Canada through immigration
  • Immigration rates improve trade between Canada and immigrants’ countries of origin.

The Government of Canada explains that immigration has allowed, “Canada’s labour force to grow by a small amount every year. If it weren’t for immigrants, employers would have trouble finding enough qualified workers to fill available jobs. This is because Canadians are living longer and having fewer children. More people are retiring, and there are fewer students in schools. As a result, the pool of Canadian-born existing and potential workers is limited.

Immigrants contribute to our economy, not only by filling gaps in our labour force and paying taxes, but also by spending money on goods, housing and transportation.”

Immigrants are able to bring over their unique talents, skills, and expertise to our job market and ultimately allow our nation to flourish.

The Importance of Educating Your Child about Newcomers

When you teach your child about inclusivity, you are:

  • Protecting newcomers from bullying
  • Promoting inclusivity amongst peers
  • Building empathy and emotional intelligence
  • Helping to create the understanding of differences in a positive manner
  • Diminishing negative effects of implicit bias
  • Developing skills that will be carried beyond childhood

If you know someone who has newly immigrated and requires assistance, please direct them to these useful resources:

Community Services Directory – Newcomer Services

Newcomer Centre of Peel

Immigration Peel

Peel Multicultural Council

Government of Canada – Prepare for Life in Canada

For more support, visit InfoPeel.ca. To chat with a Specialist, click “Chat with Us” at the bottom right corner of the page or give us a call at 905-890-9432. Free interpretive services are available in a variety of languages to help you access the services you need.

Information Sources:

https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/campaigns/immigration-matters/track-record.html

https://bipt.ca/benefits-multiculturalism/

https://www.international.gc.ca/world-monde/issues_development-enjeux_developpement/human_rights-droits_homme/inclusion_respect.aspx?lang=eng

https://onlinegrad.baylor.edu/resources/teaching-children-disabilities-inclusion/