The story ‘Newcomer’ by Mehri Yalfani is an example of a language barrier, a common obstacle that immigrants face when deciding to live in Canada. She was silent because she could not speak English properly and knew she didn’t want to be embarrassed. They may have access to ESL support but it is frequently the case that lack of funds can lead to lower educational outcomes, lack of basic literacy skills, inability to gain knowledge and attend training programs to pursue further education. Language affects access to care for immigrant children. According to a recent graph of the percentage of the population that have problems communicating with doctors: 48% usually had interpreters during a health care visit, 70% only fully understood what the doctor was saying, and 16% did not fully understand their doctor or ask any questions. [Source: http://www.mmc.edu/www.meharry.org/Fl/Access_to_Health_Care/Barriers_to_Care_for_Immigrants.html, Retrieved February 1, 2008] There still exists rampant racism and discrimination because of one person who has an accent or cannot speak English properly. There are many terrible sad stories I’ve heard and witnessed because of immigrants who have limited English-speaking skills end up feeling frustrated. Despite all this, I believe the system of bringing newcomers here to Canada is broken.
The barriers extend far beyond language. Canada is traditionally a service based country and professional opportunities are very small, so nepotism plays above all. If you don’t have any personal relationship, then all of your qualifications are worthless. Some obstacles I can think of that immigrants face are lack of professional networks with employers and social contacts, difficulty obtaining Canadian professional work experience, difficulty of unwelcoming workplaces, costs of training to each individual for their learning skills in order to progress, inadequacy of career counselling and information about how Canada’s economic factors work, insufficient knowledge of employment opportunities and requirements, and most importantly, lack of international education, training and previous work experience. Youth unemployment is significantly high than of the general population. They may face racial discrimination, language barriers, culture shocks and lack of Canadian experience that gets in the way of them entering the labour market smoothly. Also immigrants are sometimes prevented from working at a specific organization because they cannot produce the required documentation about their foreign educational credentials.
Himani Bannerji’s story ‘The Other Family’ is about seeing herself ‘different’ because, like her, I am becoming increasingly aware of my physical racial identity. The predominance of other ethnic groups can be difficult for other immigrants if they do not belong to the same ethnic group. For example, I am a Muslim and because of recent times and politics, it is now a targeted group. What’s ironic is that I have learned more about being a Muslim here, than back in Dubai. Here, they are more serious about the faith and religion we have in order to connect with other Muslims our age to see what living here is like. Yet most teaching of religion in high schools in Canada has mainly focused on Christianity. I think courses like ‘word religion’ should be expanded. We also have to deal with issues on sexuality, lifestyles and marriage within our own Muslim community as we have to take pride in preserving our religious identity from a western country. [Source: http://www.muslimcanadiancongress.org Retrieved February 1, 2008]
I think new immigrants feel the need to stick together because we are all going thru the same thing. In Canada, jobs may be plentiful but they are not the glamorous jobs. We might not find the same high paying job that we used to have back home or live in an equally fancy neighbourhood or have friends who we’ve known throughout our childhood, but we need to learn to adopt and look at things that matter like family, new friends, and succeeding in what we want to achieve during our stay in Canada. Isabel Vincent’s story ‘Finding a Nationality that fits’ is a story about how they are a Portuguese family who tried to ‘Canadianize’ themselves in order to be accepted in society. Women are often the target of discriminatory behaviour in various industry fields. We often are left on our own to find ourselves in Canada. After a period of time living in Canada, may lose his/her family traditions, beliefs and values and it changes a person. Now, I see more young teens that came here with such innocence being involved in things that they shouldn’t be, just because they want to take part in the ‘in-crowd.’
I believe that if we all help each other and socially integrate among other immigrants, we can find opportunities and learn how to establish ourselves here. Therefore we can make our networks and amalgamate in the society. I hope Canada becomes a country of hope, not of shattered dreams.