Thursday, June 26, 2014

NEW STUDY: Ethnocultural community organizations could contribute more fully to immigrant integration

For immediate distribution – June 26, 2014


Montreal – Many immigrants rely on organizations that serve specific ethnocultural groups. Although these organizations can help newcomers deal with some of the challenges they face, it may be at the cost of reduced opportunities for integration within the broader society.

Philippe Couton’s new IRPP Study examines forms of organization within the Korean-Canadian and Ukrainian-Canadian communities to assess how these groups contribute to immigrant integration. His study presents some of the most detailed data available, drawn from Canada Revenue Agency administrative files on charitable organizations.

The Korean-Canadian community consists mainly of people who have arrived in the past few decades. Forms of organizing within the group are closely linked to immigrant entrepreneurship – largely in small businesses. Couton describes this as a defensive approach that partly reflects the difficulties recent arrivals face finding work in their fields of education or previous employment.

He explains: “this approach, though not without benefits to recent arrivals, may also limit their social integration beyond the community.”

In contrast, Couton finds the Ukrainian-Canadian example illustrates the benefits of strong organizations that, since the community took root in the late 19th century, have combined concerns for the protection of the community with an outward-looking perspective. These efforts have significantly improved Ukrainian-Canadians’ economic prospects and engagement in broader society since the 1950s.

“These organizations and institutions may take decades to develop and become an integral part of the Canadian social fabric, but there is no reason to believe that only a few communities can reach this level of development,” says Couton.

As for policy implications, the author raises concerns about governments’ decreased commitment to supporting organizations that represent a single ethnocultural or immigrant community – reflected, for example, in reduced federal funding for immigrant settlement services provided by such organizations.

Couton calls on governments to develop and expand programs that support business development and diversification within immigrant communities. He also urges governments to recognize, through their programs, the valuable role played by ethnocultural community organizations whose activities are directed at building bridges with the broader community.

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Ethnocultural Community Organizations and Immigrant Integration in Canada,by Philippe Couton, can be downloaded from the Institute’s website at irpp.org.

For more details or to schedule an interview, please contact F. Leslie Seidle at 514-609-2616 or lseidle@irpp.org.

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