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Fostering partnerships for integration of new immigrants Chamber of Commerce Presentation, September, 2011 Dr. Laurie Carlson Berg.

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Presentation on theme: "Fostering partnerships for integration of new immigrants Chamber of Commerce Presentation, September, 2011 Dr. Laurie Carlson Berg."— Presentation transcript:

1 Fostering partnerships for integration of new immigrants Chamber of Commerce Presentation, September, 2011 Dr. Laurie Carlson Berg

2 Partnership research process: Identify concerns, needs, and questions; Discuss options for how research could address needs; Negotiate buy-in of stakeholders within organization; Delineate responsibilities and clarify expectations (research ethics; academic freedom) Conduct research; Ongoing feedback and consultation

3 Collaborative research in Francophone schools Reciprocal learning and Strengths-based approach (Appreciative Inquiry); 700 hours over first 18 months to build relationships and gain in-depth understanding of the community; Openess and of the Director of Education Findings used for collaborative problem-solving vs. public critique

4 Research to date Interviews with newcomer families from all immigration categories (refugee, family reunification, and economic); Sociograms with students at eight schools in Saskatchewan and Manitoba; Interviews with administrative and teaching personnel; Ongoing work with high school students.

5 Findings about Racism in schools: “Is brown skin a sign of illness?” (Translation) There were some children who thought my children were ill because their skin colour was different from theirs. So, when they sat down, someone said, « No, I don’t want you to sit beside me because I don’t want to get the same illness as you.” My daughter then asked, “What do you mean by the same illness?”. [The other child replied,] “Because you are black so if I sit beside you I will get the same colour of skin as you.” That [statement] could have come out of ignorance but, at the same time, you need to educate children when your city has a certain number of immigrants and especially people of colour. So, that ticked me off a bit because my daughter didn’t want to go to school in the morning and she is a very sociable person who loves to have her friends around her. But, all of a sudden, she decided she no longer wanted to go [to school]. When we tried to question her, she finally told us that she had heard some things said that she wasn’t comfortable with and she wanted to know more. So, she came to us and asked us to explain whether indeed being brown, as it was said here, is an illness. Now, we had to intervene, because with that it’s the self-esteem that takes a blow. (Véronique, p.3)

6 Racism in schools (cont’d) (Translation) At times, there were even children who said, “Oh, it stinks of Blacks” and that, compared to the child who thought that having brown skin was an illness (pause) but a child who says, “It stinks of Blacks” that is another way of saying, “I don’t want you near me”. Those children must have heard something, you can’t always interpret but they must have heard something to have said that Blacks stink. There were very hurtful words that our children heard when we first arrived [in Saskatchewan].

7 Racism in schools (cont’d) (Translation) I remember a time when there were three of us immigrants, and all the rest were Canadian [classmates]. We were together playing but we didn’t do everything together because we, the immigrants, were always on one side, we don’t get along so well [with the Canadians], I don’t know. I felt like we were on one side and they were on the other side. It’s not that they didn’t want to [be with us], they wanted us with them but maybe there were things that caused us to be on the other side because if there wasn’t something there, we would all be together. But I felt like we immigrants were on one side and they were on the other side. (pause) I think it’s because we are not accustomed to them and all they do that is different. It’s not as though they are racist but everything they do, it’s different from us. (pause) Even in sports because we immigrants, we like soccer. We played soccer and they would go play volleyball and we would leave to go play our sport. We didn’t get along too well. There was no problem, we laughed well, we had good fun. (Martin, p. 13)

8 Sociogramme (Carlson Berg, 2007) From the list of classmates below, please circle the three classmates 1. with whom you would most like to play at recess. 2. with whom you would most like to do a group project at school. 3. with whom you actually spend the most time. 4. who you admire the most. 5. who are the most like you. 6., 7., 8., 9, 10. who have the best handwriting, reading, math skills, musical talent; are the best athletes.

9 Results: Newcomers and visible minorities are the least included and remain at the margins of social and academic networks; Newcomers, who are not visible minorities, have a greater than average likelihood of being chosen and being central to a network; The relationship between visible minority and low teacher ratings on academic achievement is statistically significant; The better one’s academic ranking (by the classroom teacher), the greater likelihood of being central to a network; If a child is central to one social/academic network, it is highly likely they will be central to another network; Statistically, it is very unlikely that new immigrant or visible minority students (even those with high academic teacher ratings) be central to a social or academic network in the 26 classrooms surveyed.

10 Network 2: With which 3 classmates would you most like to do a group project (Desired academic)?

11 Circle: male/ Carré: female Blue Lines: unidirectional/ Red Line: reciprocal Blue nodes: visible minority/ Red nodes: white majoritySize of node: bigger = better school achievement ratings Preferred work partner Absent: 5 No response: 16, 20

12 Network 3: Which 3 classmates do you spend the most time with (Actual)?

13 Circle: male/ Carré: female Blue Lines: unidirectional/ Red Line: reciprocal Blue nodes: visible minority/ Red nodes: white majority Who I choose to spend the most time with Absent: 9, 10, 17 No response: -

14 Taking action: Talking race Virtual discussions, face-to-face discussions, and network building; Putting yourself in a newcomer; different language situation (e.g. talking with teenagers) Tell about a time when you felt a strong sense of belonging? Tell about a time when you felt you didn’t belong? As a child, what were you taught about discussing differences? When did you begin seeing yourself as having a racial identity? What name did you give this identity? Describe your first experience of learning that some people are ill-treated because of their racial identity? What are your thoughts on how this discrimination could be stopped or prevented?

15 Quotations to ponder “I feel that we are all part of the relationship between oppression and resistance” (in Lund & Nabavi, 2008). Trepagnier defines “silent racism” as “the shared images and assumptions of members of the dominant group about the subordinate group” (p. 15); Trepagnier puts forward the idea of a continuum of racism, from “less racist” to “more racist” and contends that “racially progressive whites will welcome the suggestion of a racism continuum, knowing perhaps that without realizing it, they have racist thoughts at times and may act on them….The concept of silent racism gives well-meaning white people permission to explore their own racism. Instead of asking, ‘Am I racist or not?’ progressive whites will ask, ‘How am I racist?’ ” (p.43). suggests moving beyond the binary of “racist” and “non-racist” as they impede frank discussions of silent racism; Members of the white majority may be engaging daily in routine acts that, while non-intentional contribute to the maintenance of the status quo of racial inequality.(Flat tire story)

16 My ongoing Community Consultation Community-based discussions on racism and inclusion (Saskatchewan Ministry of Education; Conseil des écoles fransaskoises; Community- based organizations) Moving beyond tolerance; Moving beyond managing diversity. Concrete outcomes? Improved rate of retention of immigrant families.

17 Thank-you! Merci! I wish to thank the students who participated in this research and my community partners: the CEF (Conseil des écoles fransaskoises), the DSFM (Division scolaire francomanitobaine), and the French Education Branch of Saskatchewan Learning. I also wish to thank the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC- CURA), the Humanities Research Institute, the Centre de recherches sur les francophonies en milieu minoritaire, and the Prairie Metropolis Centre for their financial support.


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