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The Changing Face of Kelowna: Are We Ready?

The Changing Face of Kelowna: Are We Ready? . FORUM September 25, 2008. Background. WHY– Knowledge about barriers experienced by visible minorities. Need for Kelowna to be proactive, be a welcoming community. WHO – funder, partners – ISCO, KCR, UBCO, OC, SD23, ELSA

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The Changing Face of Kelowna: Are We Ready?

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  1. The Changing Face of Kelowna: Are We Ready? FORUM September 25, 2008

  2. Background • WHY– Knowledge about barriers experienced by visible minorities. Need for Kelowna to be proactive, be a welcoming community. • WHO – funder, partners – ISCO, KCR, UBCO, OC, SD23, ELSA • HOW – research (demographics, media coverage, best practices), interviews, focus groups, public forum. • Copies of reports will be on ISCO website www.interculturalkelowna.com

  3. Outline I will share with you the following: • Some quotes from people I interviewed • Research highlights: demographics, media coverage • Highlights from interviews and focus groups (perceived barriers) • Best practices – barriers and successes

  4. Interviews – some quotes • “Racism exists in Kelowna – it would not be difficult for a racist group to start functioning here” • “I am worried that ethnic neighbours will not maintain the property properly and the value of my house will be lower.” (dissenter) •  “I personally experienced no racism in Kelowna – I was greeted warmly in the street and invited for coffee by neighbours”

  5. More quotes • “According to my observation, the prevalent feeling in Kelowna is that people need to blend in and “be like us” (dissenter) • “There have been changes in the heart but not in the soul of Kelowna. The attitudes towards visible minority groups and First Nations are still simmering beneath the surface. In fact, I am concerned about resurgence of white supremacist groups here.”

  6. Research • Demographics – Kelowna is predominantly white and working hard to stay that way (protesting immigration and marketing to certain sectors of the population) • Only 7% of growth is through international immigration, mostly from Europe and Asia but since 2003, equal numbers from Europe and Asia • Growing visible minority – 6.2% in last census (up from 3% before)

  7. Research cont. • Businesses and higher learning are the key drivers of international immigration • Racism and discrimination are found in many places in Kelowna • Media promote value of immigration but do not fully address complexities of racism

  8. Media Coverage • Media has done a reasonably good job of providing positive coverage of the stories of immigrants and of the cultural and religious diversity events in the community. • A number of articles normalize the diversity in Kelowna and claim the successes of its residents for anti-racist work. • Good coverage is provided to educate about the value and benefits of immigration and diversity.

  9. Media Coverage cont. • Some of the coverage assumes that Kelowna is already a tolerant and accepting community or offers pieces of information to appease racist fears. • More could be done to educate the public about the complexities of power relations and ethnicity and to challenge Kelowna to think of itself as a diverse community with a desire to tackle the challenges of moving forwards towards a more welcoming and inclusive community.

  10. Interviews 14 individual interviews: • Visible minority – 8 • “WASP dissenters” – 3 • Church leaders – 2 • Business community – 3 • Civic - 2 • Active in multiculturalism – 2 • Media reps - 2

  11. Focus Groups: • Agencies providing services to immigrants • Business community • Educators • Newcomers (2 groups of students) • Community leaders

  12. Perceived Barriers • Curiosity or ignorance about different customs, style of dress, homophobia, racism does exist or simmers beneath the surface • Immigrants must be like us – must fit in (dissenter) • Some workers exploited – not told about their rights • Limited access to ESL, training of ESL teachers • Credential evaluation – costly, time consuming

  13. Barriers cont. • Lack of information about (or poor access to) services, information about immigration rules, foreign credentials, or information not available in other languages, not available in plain language, not well marketed. • Kelowna very ethnocentric and inexperienced in cross-cultural awareness, very little diversity in some workplaces and little attempt to attract workers from other cultures.

  14. Barriers cont. • Many frontline workers unable to communicate with limited English speakers, many inappropriate jokes and racist jokes are heard in some workplaces, little tolerance for differences • HR people only trained in interviewing techniques applicable to WASP workers • Some exploitation of entry level workers • Little tolerance for hearing other language spoken at work.

  15. Barriers cont. • Services fragmented, lack of knowledge about existing services • Language Support - Not enough ESL classes for children (pre-school or K-12) or adults • Regular classroom teachers frustrated with lack of ESL support and lack of skills to deal with increasing number of international students, few or no evening classes

  16. Barriers cont. • Little awareness of the value of using trained interpreters, no TESL training for K-12 teachers, poor signage in the city, little plain language or translated information available. • Social Support - Newcomers complain of lack of opportunity to meet friends of own culture or Canadian culture and lack of opportunity to practice their English; spouses of newly recruited employees feel isolated. Many employees leave after a short time due to lack of social opportunities.

  17. Best Practices - External Barriers to Welcoming Communities • The downloading of responsibilities from the provincial level to municipalities without the equal provision of funding makes it hard to meet the many needs of immigrants as well as residents. • Agencies are rarely given funding for services to non-immigrants (e.g., students). Communities take their money for tuition and services, but do not help them adequately to acclimate.

  18. Best Practices - External Barriers to Welcoming Communities cont. • Accreditation is one of two key needs of new immigrants. Work is being done towards facilitating credentialing of foreign professionals at both the provincial and federal levels. • Housing shortages, cost and suitability are all barriers to successful settlement. There is no link between immigration policy and housing policy, and thus, no effective form of federal or provincial support for meeting the housing needs of immigrants.

  19. Best Practices - Internal Barriers • Immigrant Deficit model: The existing models for working with immigrants do not recognize them as active contributors to the community. Instead, they are seen as a series of needs to be met by local resources. The resulting perspective is negative, disempowering (immigrants are treated as incapable rather than capable of meaningful contributions); and divisive (immigrants are not treated as full people and equal members of society, but as a separate group who are serviced by agencies).

  20. Internal Barriers • Language training is the second key need of new immigrants. While funding is provided by the province for the main ESL programs, there is a lot that communities can do to promote ESL access. Conversation groups, buddy systems, volunteer classes, employer or community financial support for fee-based ESL programs are all options.

  21. Internal Barriers cont. • The expense and shortage of housing in Kelowna is a problem. In terms of housing style, issues such as secondary suites, desire for different home styles, and the need for homes with more bedrooms have all been cited as areas that require flexibility and support from municipalities.

  22. Successes • Education – ESL classes, youth ambassador program, creation and distribution of curriculum and training materials. • Business/Employment – Skills Connect (bridging programs), Credential Evaluation, Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), business counseling and investment, Return to Nursing program.

  23. Successes • Agency services – settlement services, culturally welcoming volunteer program, Critical Incident Response Model, ESL, host and buddy, Welcoming and Inclusive Communities. • Multiple partners – Dialogues on multiculturalism, Mosaic 150 grant, Changing Face of Kelowna grant, community forums, presentations, workshops, training & conferences on diversity, immigration, and multiculturalism.

  24. Next Steps • We can prepare for the changes in the demographic profile and make Kelowna a more welcoming community. • After the responses from the panel we will ask for your input into possible action steps. Join the group of your choice: service delivery, language support, social support, workplace support, or diversity.

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