Catholic Centre for Immigrants – Ottawa

The Catholic Centre for Immigrants (CCI Ottawa):

  • promotes and facilitates the reception of newcomers to Canada
  • sensitizes the community to address newcomers’ needs and invites it to respond
  • assists newcomers to realize their full potential in Canadian Society


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National conversation on immigration launched

National conversation on immigration launched

The Government of Canada is asking Canadians about what they think immigration means for Canada, and how we can continue to grow our nation through immigration.

Starting Tuesday (July 5), until August 5, Canadians can get involved by providing an on-line written submission. Other consultation activities include cross-Canada round-table discussions led by John McCallum, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, and Arif Virani, Parliamentary Secretary, stakeholder engagement by departmental officials, and public opinion research.

The government said: “Canada’s strength lies in its diversity. Our diversity is closely tied to immigration and is a valued part of Canada’s story—we are asking Canadians to help us write the next chapter.”

The feedback gathered from Canadians will be used to help guide decisions on how many people Canada will welcome in the coming years and the future of immigration in Canada.

The government said: “Immigrants have always been a central part of Canada’s success. The contributions of newcomers result in jobs, innovation and economic growth. Immigrants also strengthen our country socially and culturally.”

The government said it is committed to an immigration system that supports Canada’s diversity and helps grow the economy as it strengthens society. This is an ambitious undertaking that will help determine the way forward on immigration to Canada, it added.

Community groups, politicians call for unity and patience after Ottawa man’s death

Community groups, politicians call for unity and patience after Ottawa man’s death

Photo:  Amira Elghawaby, National Council of Canadian Muslims

By: Emma Jackson Metro, Tuesday, July 26 2016

Politicians, community groups and advocates have been weighing in on the death of Abdrirahman Abdi, who was arrested by Ottawa Police on July 24. While the SIU investigates, here’s what some people had to say.

National Council of Canadian Muslims: Council spokesperson Amira Elghawaby said “trust has been shaken” among Ottawa’s Muslim community. “There is an immediate fear of the police in such a situation where a man has now passed away,” Elghawaby said.

But the council is also heartened by Ottawa Police’s “robust community engagement” strategy, which it vowed to strengthen in the wake of the fatal arrest.

“We’ve heard the right messaging, at least, from the police service,” Elghawaby said.

Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper: “People can’t believe that this has happened in Ottawa,” said Leiper, who represents the Hintonburg neighbourhood where the arrest took place, on Tuesday.

“Like every Hintonburger, I’m feeling this loss. People are personally grieving this, they feel as though a valuable community member has been lost,” he said.

While he said he has questions like everyone else, he cautioned residents not to jump to conclusions before the SIU has had a chance to fully investigate.

Ottawa-Centre MPP Yasir Naqvi: “This is a sorrow that no family should ever have to experience,” Naqvi said in a statement, which expressed condolences for Abdi’s family, neighbours and the Ottawa-Somali community. “I know from my experience working with community groups and local law enforcement that we all want our community to be safe and welcoming for everyone. This is what unites us and we are stronger when we continue to support one another.”

Leslie Emory, director of immigrant support agency OCISO, which served Abdi as a client, called for unity while the community waits for answers.

“What I really would like to see happening moving forward is that we all kind of come together, try to understand what happened, get transparency, get complete answers and then move forward together,” Emory said. “And if things need to change, we work together to change those.”

BlakCollectiv: Ottawa advocacy group BlakCollectiv said it continues to monitor the situation and will take action once it knows what the family and community needs.

Still, it offered strong words in support of marginalized communities.

“Police brutality is very real worldwide, and Black people in Canada have been witness to it,” the statement said. “Often times, targets are the most marginalized among us, and we ask everyone who has a voice within our society to not erase any part of Abdi’s identity in their discussions.”

We are all Immigrants

We are all Immigrants

July 22, 2016 – The Canadian Jewish News (CJN)

“Immigrants get the job done!” These were the strong words of Lin Manuel-Miranda at the recent University of Pennsylvania commencement ceremony. (I was there to proudly watch my son receive his doctorate!)

What message was Lin sending to the thousands in the stadium? How was this idea being received by the many watching the live stream of the address? After all, this incredible man who just received an honorary doctorate, and whose Broadway play, Hamilton, was nominated for more Tony awards (16) than any other play in history, was telling the world something important, and his words carry weight. In fact, he told us that he chose Alexander Hamilton as his topic because this man was the only immigrant amongst the founding fathers. So in the context of an American election year that’s so full of anti-foreigner sentiments colliding with a global refugee crisis, how shall we approach this topic of immigration?

Jews have been migrating throughout history it seems. Certainly our presence in North America is a wonderful story of successive waves of individual and family arrivals on these shores. At times, we were welcomed, and at critical times, we were denied.

My parents were immigrants. My father came from Vishnitz, my mother from Hungary. Their stories are similar, yet different from so many others. Without them, we would not have this thriving American Jewish community. Significantly, North America would also not have the rich and pioneering culture it has today. Immigrant Jews have been at the forefront of so much that eventually became America and Canada. We have contributed to all aspects of culture, to the economic, political, social, artistic, entertainment, social and health fields. I cannot think of any arena in which immigrant Jews have not played a critical creative role.

Even in sports, while many might laugh, Jews have been active. Do you know the name Fanny “Bobbie” Rosenfeld? She was a Canadian athlete who won a gold medal for the 400-metre relay and a silver medal for the 100 metre at the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam.

Immigrants get the job done!

So many jobs the world over depend on immigrant populations. Why should we be wary of them?

What is an immigrant? A person who moves from one place to another. Usually, we reserve that word to signify the movement of a population from one country to another. Statistics Canada specifies that immigrants are “persons residing in Canada who were born outside of Canada, excluding temporary foreign workers.”

However, the word itself signifies newcomer, someone who comes from somewhere else and settles in a new neighbourhood. In that sense, we are all immigrants. We all move from one place to another. We change houses and neighbours, and in our relocation, we must re-absorb new cultural and social patterns. Sometimes the adjustments are minor, sometimes major. But change is constant. So why treat immigrants from foreign countries as so radically different?

Is it because we deign to deny them citizenship? What rights and privileges do we want to hold only for ourselves? What divides do we insist mark us as different from “them”?

Again, I remind everyone that there was a time, not so long ago, when Jews were not allowed to be “citizens,” even a time when women were not “citizens.” Shocking, eh?

We are not so different from these others. We move and change, just as they do. Immigrants contribute to our cultures and communities. There will be changes – some we will be comfortable with, some not. But remember: immigrants get the job done.

On the base of the Statue of Liberty is the poem by Emma Lazarus: “Give me your tired, your poor,/ Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,/ The wretched refuse of your teeming shore./ Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,/ I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

UN Secretary General visits CCI Ottawa

UN Secretary General visits CCI Ottawa

“A once in a lifetime opportunity.” That’s how CCI Executive Director Carl Nicholson characterized the informal visit of United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to the Catholic Centre for Immigrants on Thursday, February 11.

Seven Syrian refugee families who had arrived in Ottawa in December and January were invited to participate in the special visit by His Excellency and his wife, Mrs. Ban Soon-taek. The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, and Ms. Anita Biguzs Deputy Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada were also on hand.

Handshakes and cell phone photos were the order of the day as His Excellency and his wife made their way around the circle of chairs, greeting newcomers one by one, and leaning down to touch the faces of the excited children. His Excellency then began his remarks to the families by expressing his gratitude to Mr. Nicholson and the Centre for its generous support for the refugees.  He praised the “long civilization and culture” of Syria’s people.

His Excellency Ki-Moon noted that the UN was mobilizing record amounts of resources, and “working day and night” to aid those affected by the crisis in Syria, through political negotiations and humanitarian aid.  “Do not despair, do not be frustrated,” he told the group, saying that in his childhood his own country, South Korea, “was able to be rescued by the help of the UN.”

Participants took the opportunity during the informal interaction following His Excellency’s remarks to reiterate their gratitude to the Canadian government for the support, and for the honour of the Secretary General’s personal visit. “You’ve put hope again into our lives,” commented one family member.

Prior to His Excellency’s arrival, Minister Bibeau spoke about the work CCI and other Canadian agencies are doing to settle refugees. “You make us look good,” she joked to Mr. Nicholson. “You are doing the big job.” She encouraged everyone to “work hard to learn the language, it’s the key to integration and the key to finding a job.”  Deputy Minister Anita Biguzs noted that her parents had been refugees to Canada who spoke neither English nor French, and probably never imagined that their daughter would become a Deputy Minister. She described herself as “very privileged and very humbled” to hold this office “because it has a lot of personal meaning for me.”


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