VANCOUVER, Oct. 1, 2013 /CNW/ - Immigrant and refugee youth are calling upon the B.C. Ministry of
Education to allow English Language Learning (also known as English as
a Second Language) courses to count toward high school graduation
credits by launching an online petition through www.make-it-count.ca The petition results will be presented to the Minister of Education
later this year.
The crediting of English Language Learning (ELL) in high school is just
one of 16 recommendations contained in the new report Fresh Voices from Long Journeys: Insights of Immigrant and Refugee Youth sponsored by Vancouver Foundation and B.C.'s Representative for
Children and Youth.
"When a high school student in BC learns a new language, they get credit
towards their graduation, unless they're an immigrant student learning
English," said Dina Ganan Perez, a member of the Fresh Voices Youth Advisory Team that produced the report. "At the very least, our
hard work at school should be worth just as much as anyone else's."
The Fresh Voices report contains 16 recommendations on how government and community
organizations could better address the challenges that immigrant and
refugee youth commonly face living in BC, ranging from inequities in
the school system to the unique role they play in the family to
connecting to the community.
"Immigrant and refugee youth serve as a vital linchpin within their
family, connecting older and younger generations to integral components
of Canadian society," said Kevin McCort, President and CEO of Vancouver
Foundation. "The recommendations in this report are meant to
strengthen our communities by eliminating forms of discrimination,
celebrating our diversity, enhancing our sense of belonging and
building cross-cultural awareness and understanding."
The Fresh Voices from Long Journeys project is a joint initiative of Vancouver Foundation and the B.C.
Representative for Children and Youth. Its mandate was to host the
fourth annual Champions for Children And Youth Summit, held in October
2011. The event attracted more than 100 immigrant and refugee youth,
who discussed their experiences as newcomers to Canada and ways to
improve the well-being of their community. The summit was followed by
a series of regional meetings in Nanaimo, Victoria, Langley and Prince
George in 2012.
In total, approximately 200 immigrant and refugee youth were consulted
and their input incorporated into the final Fresh Voices report. The report, recommendations and accompanying video were created
by a youth advisory team of 18 immigrant and refugee youth volunteers.
The full report is available at www.make-it-count.ca
"I am very pleased to see the valuable work that began with the 2011
Summit has continued and resulted in this report and these
recommendations by the Youth Advisory Team,'' said Representative Mary
Ellen Turpel-Lafond. "The goal has always been for the voices of
immigrant and refugee youth in B.C. to be clearly heard by
decision-makers. This is a strong report and the youth who compiled it
deserve credit for the fine work they have done to raise awareness of
the challenges they face and encourage multiple levels of governments
to better address those challenges."
Fresh Voices from Long Journeys Recommendations
Recommendation 1: Allow English Language Learning (ELL) courses -- also known as English as a Second Language (ESL) courses -- to count towards high school graduation.
Recommendation 2: Implement a special credit program for languages
spoken at home (not otherwise taught in the regular school system).
Recommendation 3: Increase opportunities for immigrant-facilitated
dialogues in schools, and ensure participation from senior education,
government and community leaders.
Recommendation 4: Provide anti-oppression, anti-racism and cultural
awareness training to teachers and other school staff who work with
immigrant and refugee students and communities.
Recommendation 5: Include more immigrants and refugees on the governing
bodies of school districts, parent advisory committees, and student
Recommendation 6: Ensure ELL/ESL testing, assessment, placement and
academic guidance is consistent across BC.
Recommendation 7: Develop mentorship programs where older immigrant and
refugee young adults support younger peers to overcome difficulties and
navigate the system.
Recommendation 8: Promote international spaces to talk about the impact
that changes in roles and responsibilities have on traditional family
values, dynamics and identities - particularly when youth seem to
become the 'head of the families' or key caregivers.
Recommendation 9: Provide support to young adults in families from
newcomer backgrounds to advance their education and employment goals.
Recommendation 10: Develop and provide specific program services for
refugee youth, young girls and queer immigrants and refugees.
Recommendation 11: Speed up family reunification efforts by enabling
provincial staff to inform and influence federal immigration
Recommendation 12: Create better pre-departure and post-arrival
resources for immigrant and refugee youth.
Recommendation 13: All children and youth in Canada should have access
to essential services such as education and health care, as outlined in
the Convention on Rights of the Child.
Recommendation 14: Federal, provincial and municipal funding and
practices should strengthen the ability of cultural groups to come
together to support themselves, such as peer mentorship programs for
Recommendation 15: Federal, provincial and municipal funding should be
allocated towards supporting conversations and spaces for diverse
cultural groups among both self-identified cultural groups and other
Recommendation 16: Government agencies and social service organizations
must take more action to recruit, hire, train and promote people from
immigrant and refugee background for key decision-making positions.
About Vancouver Foundation
With almost 1,500 funds and assets totaling $814 million, Vancouver
Foundation is Canada's largest community foundation. In 2012, Vancouver
Foundation and its donors made more than 4,000 grants, totaling
approximately $46 million to registered charities across Canada. Grant recipients range from social services to medical research groups,
to organizations devoted to arts and culture, the environment,
education, children and families, disability supports for employment,
youth issues and animal welfare.
To find out more visit: www.vancouverfoundation.ca or follow us on social media: Facebook.com/vancouverfdn and @VancouverFdn
About the Representative for Children and Youth
The Representative for Children and Youth supports children, youth and
families who need help in dealing with the child- and youth-serving
system, provides oversight to the Ministry of Children and Family
Development and advocates for improvements to the child- and
youth-serving system. To find out more visit: www.rcybc.ca or follow on social media: Facebook (B.C .'s Representative for
Children and Youth) and Twitter @rcybc
SOURCE: Vancouver Foundation
For further information:
Vancouver Foundation Communications
Representative for Children and Youth