What Can Trudeau Do For Us?

Image Source: Mohammad Jangda

On November 4 of 2015, Justin Trudeau of the Liberal Party of Canada assumed office as the country’s Prime Minister. Indeed, there was a mixture of reactions into it especially if you’re not a supporter of the liberal party or their ideology. Anyhow, as much as I hate doing the “us and them” mentality, I will talk about what some of us have in mind with respect to having a new Prime Minister: What can Justin Trudeau do for us youth immigrants.  

As I scroll on the liberal party’s website (www.liberal.ca/realchange/) for their platform, I thought that Trudeau is pretty much aiming for equality. That’s actually good news for us because now we can be sure that equality and fairness is not only one of the priorities of the government but it is being valued as well. I also saw a handful of things that I think will have some impact on us (in a good way, of course).  

Prime Minister’s Youth Advisory Council  

First, on “young people”, Trudeau’s government is planning on creating a council that will give a “non-partisan advice” to the Prime Minister about issues Canada is facing. The council is going to be composed of young adults ages 16-24. 

What this means for us 

If Trudeau actually goes forward with this, this could be good news for not just us, immigrants, but to all youth.  Indeed there are already a lot of group or initiatives that are consist of youth such as us, but a group or rather a council dedicated to giving advice to the Prime Minister is pretty big deal. Imagine if one of those members in the council is an immigrant like us, we will have that opportunity to give advice to the prime minister on issues that involve us. I just think that advice coming from the people who are actually going to be impacted by such issues are the best people to get an opinion from. 

Renewed Youth Employment Strategy 

Trudeau’s government plan on creating 40,000 youth jobs including 5,000 youth green jobs each year for the next three years. 

What this means for us 

Well, this means jobs! I know it may not be particularly hard for us to obtain a part time job, but what mostly draws me to this plan of Trudeau is the “green jobs”. It may not be that related to immigration issues, but I think that this is a good starting place for us to build connections and with people who share our interests.  Moreover, it’s not as easy to get a job that concerns the environment as most of these jobs often involve the agencies of the government and government jobs. 

Residency Time credit for International Students and Temporary Residents 

Finally, Justin Trudeau plans on restoring the residency time credit for international students and temporary residents. Additionally, they will also the Canadian Experience Class to lessen immigration difficulties faced by international students. 

What this means for us

I think this a great example of how Justin Trudeau is trying to show that Canada is indeed a nation of diversity. Trudeau’s making it easier for international students to become residents here. I have often encountered international students who are having trouble making friends because in their head, they’re international students – not a resident, but someone whose life here is unsure. They don’t know if they can join clubs or group that cater to immigration matters even when they intent to live here for the rest of their life because they’re labeled as international students. Now, if Justin Trudeau actually executes this plan, this will help international students on a more social and, I guess, emotional level. They would feel more welcome and be encouraged to be part of the community. They will be also perceived as someone who are here to contribute to Canada and not the stereotypical “leech” that gets more privileges in school just because they pay more.  

Hopefully, Trudeau stays true to this platform. Although, we already see that he intends on doing so as he recently appointed a gender-equal cabinet. It’s nice to see that Canada is going back to its principles – welcoming people who want a new start in their lives.  With regards to us immigrants, I think that Trudeau will not fail us since he’s also quite young himself. I know that’s rather an absurd assumption, but  I just think that Trudeau should care about the youth as his age was one of the attacks that his opponents used on him, claiming that he is inexperienced. I hope that this will compel Trudeau to appreciate our opinion as he knows firsthand what if he feels like to be disregarded because of your age. 

Saturday, 30 January 2016
Posted by VANITY Blog

5 Myths About Refugees

Disclaimer: At VANITY Blog, we encourage youth immigrants to speak up and express themselves. This post does not necessarily reflect the views or beliefs of VANITY Blog as an organization. 

On November 13, a series of coordinated terrorist attacks occurred in and around Paris, France. Reports of Syrian passport being found near the dead body of one of the terrorists have caused many to attribute the cause of this terrorism to Europe's acceptance of 700,000 refugees and migrants this year. Even though there is a possibility that this passport might have been just forged since it has not even been verified by officials yet, a lot of Canadians are already expressing worry over Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's plan of resettling 25,000 refugees, saying that taking in refugees would only mean taking in terrorists. This is a groundless myth. 

This post aims to dispel various myths about refugees by providing data and facts from credible sources.

1) "Refugees will take away our jobs"

Many local citizens disagree with taking in refugees because they believe that refugees will take their jobs, particularly the unskilled ones. This is actually a myth. Studies show that refugees actually play a big role not just in job creation, but in increasing the wages of locals as well. A study in 2014 shows that an increase in refugees in an area also increases the wages of people in that area. This may also be attributed to the likeliness of refugees to open businesses. Steve Jobs of Apple, Jerry Yang of Yahoo!, and Sergey Brin of Google are all refugees who have largely helped stimulate the economy of the United States. 

Source: Washington Post

2) "They are crowding our healthcare system and stealing our services"

Some people also think that refugees interfere with Canada's healthcare system and steal other governmental services from locals. In reality, there is highly restricited access to basic health care services for all refugees in Canada. In 2012, the federal government announced major cuts to the Interm Federal Health Program that drastically reduced refugee access to basic health care. Later that same year, the Federal Court of Canada ruled those changes to refugee health care as unconstitutional. The Government has appealed that decision and health care for refugees and migrants remains slim. 

Furthermore, in 2012 alone, 19 Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) offices across the country were closed down by the federal government, limiting the services that refugees and immigrants can access.

Source: NeverHome.ca

3) “They come here and they don’t speak our language!”

The federal government, in 2012, ended their annual $22 million dollar agreement with the BC government. Vancouver Community College (VCC), which trains nearly half of the province’s 9,000 ESL students, won’t have enough money to continue its programs past 2015. Forcing them to fire 70 instructors. The provincial government will now have to pick up the cost for ESL education, like other provinces. Stalling the process of transition into the labour force for new immigrants.

In an interview with the Globe and Mail, a staff who has worked at VCC for 33 years said, “A number of [ESL students] don’t really know where to go. We’ve had this huge program for so many years, filling all these different kinds of needs – English for work, for academic purposes, and literacy programs – and that’s just not going to be around.”

4) “It’s not our problem. Our government has done enough.”

There is this looming belief among those against taking in more refugees that the Canadian government has done enough to help. According to CIC, Canada took 23,286 refugees in 2013. In that same year, less developed and geographically smaller countries like Pakistan, Iran, and Lebanon took 30 times as many refugees as Canada did. Canada only ranked 33rd in refugees per capita in 2012, taking in 5 refugees per 1,000 people. Syria, Jordan, Chad, and Lebanon all took more than 20 refugees per 1,000 people. 

The newly elected Liberal government has stated that they would take 25,000 Syrian refugees. Before the Liberal government was elected, the plans of the federal government had been to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees within 12 months. 

5) "Refugees are terrorists!"

Many terrorist attacks this year--most especially the attacks in Paris this month that left the entire world dumbfounded--have led many Canadians to vocally raise their concerns about the security threat of bringing in 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada by the end of the year. Many Canadians have even signed a petition to ask Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to cancel his plan of resettling 25,000 refugees. Although I think that their concern around security is valid, there is insufficient evidence to support that bringing in refugees would mean Canada will be more prone to terrorist attacks. In fact, data and experts say that resettling refugees may actually do the opposite and decrease threats to Canadian security:

  • *There is a three-level screening process that verifies the background and records of all refugees coming to Canada. First, refugees will be selected by the United Nations. Second, they will undergo an interview before they come to Canada. Third, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service will conduct their own front-end security screening to ensure that the information they have match with those submitted by the United Nations. This rigorous process exponentially decreases the risk of dangerous terrorists coming in to Canada
  • *Terrorists attacks in Canada have been caused by local citizens. According to Global News, more than 263,000 refugees arrived in Canada between 2005 and 2014, but neither of the two terror-related attacks on Canadian soil last year were carried out by either refugees or immigrants; the attacks in St. Jean-sur-Richelieu and on Parliament Hill were both carried out by Canadian-born young men.
  • *Delaying or cancelling our plans to resettle refugees may increase threat to national security. According to Anne Speckhard, Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Security Studies at Georgetown University, terrorists become terrorists because of exposure and pressure to adhere to radical and extremist ideals. Hence, the longer we leave the refugees in despair in conflict zones, the more prone they become to radicalization.  This would only strengthen and solidify terrorist groups.

Man-made tragedies always generate public discussions that attempt to find out why they happen and figure out a solution to avoid that same tragedy happening again. Although I am a big supporter of utilizing social media as a venue for this public discussions, I am disappointed at how quickly some people have been using it to voice out their opinions without even looking at facts or thinking hard about the consequences of what they say. Hopefully this post serves as a reminder for everyone to avoid forming opinions without first looking at the facts.

(Editor's note: The graphics in this post were originally made for Check Your Head's Democracy Check Digital Media Campaign last month, and were made with the help of Katie and Rodney. Reuse and republication of these images were permitted by all the creators.)

- Sean

VANITY Blog is looking for Executive Board Members!

We are currently looking for talented immigrant youth and refugee youth to join our team! If you want to get invovled in your community, this is an awesome opportunity to make a difference! The full posting is below. If you have any questions, e-mail us at vanimmigrantyouthblog@gmail.com


Position:  Executive Board Member

Organization: Vancouver Immigrant Youth (VANITY) Blog

Mission Statement:
We use the stories and experiences of immigrant and refugee youth in Vancouver to inspire other young people who just newly arrived in Canada. We help newcomer youth through three main ways: maintaining a blog website for newcomer youth, organizing events for youth immigrants, and interacting with youth immigrants through social media.

Position Description:
As an executive board member of VANITY blog, you will be a part of a group who will be chiefly responsible in developing, managing, and improving our blog website. You will be constantly working with other 6-8 students to guarantee that our blog site remains appealing to young audiences, make sure that each blog post published is exciting to read, and see to it that our site becomes known by numerous students who are just starting to settle in their new lives here in Canada. This could involve having a group meeting once a month, holding weekly Skype and Facebook conversations to update each other, and having an exclusive access to our blog account.

Aside from being a blog site, VANITY Blog is also known for building communities through conducting workshops, organizing events, and reaching out to youth through our social media channels.

So if you are a refugee, immigrant, and/or a newcomer youth, DO NOT HESITATE TO APPLY TO BE A PART OF OUR EXECUTIVE BOARD!

Currently we are looking for people for the following positions:
·         Event Management Officers (Openings: 3)
·         Social Media Managers (Openings: 2)
·         School Ambassadors (Openings: 4)
·         Media Director (Opening: 1)

General Qualifications*
·         Refugee, immigrant, or newcomer youth (15-24 years old)
·         comfortable in sharing his/her migration experience
·         passionate about inspiring other youth
·         Can balance studies and extra-curricular activities
·         interested in using social media as a tool to promote diversity
·         love for writing (whether in English or in your own language!)

*These are just general qualifications. Specific positions require different respective qualifications. Please go to http://bit.ly/vanityblogpositions to check out the available positions and the position-specific requirements.

Benefits and Recognition
·         Valuable learning experience
·         Skill building: team collaboration, networking, project management, etc.
·         Opportunity to meet new friends
·         Reference letters
·         Free tickets to youth events in Vancouver

Approximate Position Start Date
September 25, 2015

Position Duration
10 months (September 2015 to June 2016)

Time Commitment
·         *3-6 hours per week (flexible hours, most of this involves working online through e-mail or Skype)
·         *able to attend meetings for two hours once every month!

To apply, please go to: http://bit.ly/vanityblogapply
Friday, 11 September 2015
Posted by VANITY Blog

What's Up, Vancouver? (September 2015)

A photo inside the Vancouver Aquarium, taken by David Ohmer

The Fair at the PNE (with free concerts every night!)
Until September 7, 2015
Pacific National Exhibition
2901 East Hastings Street
Vancouver, BC

More information

"Sea Monsters Revealed: The Exhibition" at Vancouver Aquarium
Until September 7, 2015
Vancouver Aquarium
845 Avison Way
Vancouver, BC
More information

Community Fun Fair
September 1, 2015
South Arm Park
Richmond, BC
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September 4-7, 2015
Vancouver, BC
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Art Deco Photowalk
September 5, 2015
Vogue Theatre
918 Granville St
Vancouver, BC V6Z 1L2
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Serbian Days
September 5-6, 2015
Vancouver, BC
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Vancouver Fringe Festival
September 10-20, 2015
Various locations across Vancouver
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BBQ Off the Bypass
September 13, 2015
#117 - 20353 64th Avenue
Langley, BC
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Hapa-palooza Festival: Mixed Voices Raised
September 16, 2015
Vancouver Public Library, Central Branch
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Project Everybody: Film and Art Festival
September 16, 2015
Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre
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Bill C-51: The Insecurity of Human Rights - A Free Public Lecture by Alex Neve
September 17, 2015
SFU Harbour Centre
515 West Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC
V6B 5K3
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Greek Food Festival
September 25-27, 2015
4500 Arbutus
Vancouver, BC
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Etsy: Made in Canada Market 2015
September 26, 2015
UBC Robson Square
800 Robson Street, Vancouver, BC
V6Z 3B7
More information

Tuesday, 1 September 2015
Posted by VANITY Blog

Things to Do During the Summer (If You Are a Student)

For some, summer is vacation time. You can finally sleepy really late and not worry about any deadline for tomorrow. However, for us students, it’s a bit different. We never really get a break with deadlines until we graduate high school.  For that reason, I’m going to give you some advice on how to make the most out of your summer as a high school student. 

1. Volunteer 
If I have any regrets during my high school years, it’s the fact that I didn’t do my volunteer work during the summer. It was a bit too late when I found out that there AREN'T a lot of volunteer opportunities for students during the school year. Sure there are some, but imagine having a volunteer work that requires more time than school itself. I remember being frustrated about getting enough hours for volunteer requirement whilst finding extra time to study for my exams.  Remember, we, as high school students, always have to prioritize what will help us towards our graduation. Think twice before you book that vacation. Think of the 30hrs required volunteer work for graduation. 

2. Summer School 
One advantage of going to summer school is you only have to do 2 months to complete a course.  Think of the classes that you want to improve your grades on or credits that you need to fulfill in order to complete the graduation requirement.  If you feel that you are tired from the last year and desperately need a break, just remember that you are only going to be doing it for 2 months! You might even have lots of free blocks when you return to school. 

3. Work 
Working is also a good option for your summer. You can start earning money for expenses you will have for the next year or you can save it for your tuition fee when you get out.  You might even have to say no to student loan if you have enough savings or use it to pay for your textbooks. 

4. Prepping for College 
I know that most of the things I’ve already said is about preparing for graduation. Nevertheless, if you’re planning to go to college, it’s important that you take the time to research your prospective university or college. Don’t be one of those students who leave their planning at the very last minute and so unfortunately for them, it was too late when they found out they have to meet requirements, not just for graduation, but requirements the college itself has imposed (e.g. a certain grade in English 12 or Math 12 or extracurricular activities to buff your application ) There are lots of people you can get help from such as your high school counsellor, a counsellor from your prospective college or current students who are there.  

5Extra Curricular Activities 
Of course, summer is still summer. Don’t stay too much inside your home and bury your face in your phones, TV, or booksDuring the school year, you probably spent your time doing repetitive actions (i.e. wake up, eat, school, eat, home, sleep). It is important for your body that it gets some actual exercise. Remember that you also need to unwind after that stressful school yearGet up and do something under the sun. It maybe sports, community work, or just walking your dog.  Most importantly, ECE’s are also a requirement for graduation. Ask you counsellor how many hours a week you have to accomplish. 

There’s a lot of pressure for us high school students. As immigrants, the pressure is even a tad bit more because there’s this feeling that we are just getting started on this new chapter of our lives and there are already tons of things we have to accomplish such as the things mention above, and what makes it hard is that we haven’t completely settled in yet – at least emotionally.  So don’t feel too worried if you’re not meeting everything on time. You just have to pause, think, and plan wisely. Get some help from high school counsellors or you can maybe visit our website! We have tons of blogs that are full of tips on how to make the most out of your high school experience. All are written by immigrants! So yes, we know exactly how you feel.  Go on and enjoy the rest of the summer! 
Monday, 27 July 2015
Posted by VANITY Blog
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Vancouver Immigrant Youth (VANITY) Blog is an online space made for youth, by youth. Here, you will find stories and experiences written by youth immigrants who once felt how challenging it was to be a newcomer in Vancouver. If you are a newcomer in Vancouver (or anywhere in Canada), we hope to give you all the resources you need to feel comfortable in this country. We hope to give you tips and advices on how we adjusted to our lives here as youth immigrants. Through this site, we want to empower you to bring out your full potential.





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