Intercultural studies 

ANG 160 Fall 2005

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The biggest challenge

by Cynthia-Maude Daigle

Challenge

 

         The Minister of immigration and cultural communities (MICC) offers different kinds of services for immigrants in Quebec. For instance, they can attend French classes for training or even in their workplace in order to improve their communication skills.  Their level of the French language is evaluated by professionals, and then it is up to them if they want full or part-time courses.  The MICC provides financial aid depending on status, training program, type of courses, and the number of dependant children.  Another service called the Neo-Canadian helps immigrants to find furniture, an apartment and of course a job.  They send “parrains” around with them to explain where the grocery stores are, the value of our money and to show cheaper places to buy clothing like “friperie” and the Salvation Army.

 

Michel Vaillancourt, an agent at the MICC, said during our interview, which took place on the 24th of October, 2005, at the “Café Press Boutique” in Sherbrooke, that the Quebec government did not insist on immigrants from a particular place and that in fact they were looking for more diversity.  Unfortunately, it was confirmed to me that the Quebec Selection Certificate in French were analyzed quicker than the ones in other languages. On September 13, 2005, the Minister of immigration and cultural communities, Lise Thériault, assisted in the publication of the new handbook guide called: “Apprendre le Québec” which will be useful for new arrivals and will ease their integration into our society.

 

Some professionals think that the population of Quebec appreciates the presence of people from foreign countries but don’t want to rub shoulders with them. The population is curious and a little bit distant, but is still very welcoming.  They also said that sometimes minority group ethnic such as black and Arab have difficulties integrating our society. Agents and diverse organisms understand how they feel, and try to give their best advice to them, for a better quality of life.  Unfortunately, they need to be stronger than us because they are threaded like a minority into a dominant social group and some people still have a hard time accepting differences due to race, color, sexual orientation, religion, social status, language, and handicap or just about anything.  I am hoping that all of this will change in the near future.

 

According to some agents, racism towards immigrants can occur any time for any thing. For example, they can be disadvantage when looking for a place to live, but Quebec only counted a few cases.   M. Vaillancourt doesn’t like people using the term “ghettos” because it refers to a State decision, and he said that in reality the problem is caused by both natural and social factors like the amount of financial assistance that immigrants received versus the cost of life.  Also some government workers think that the Multicultural Act is too vague and can be a source of conflict because of the different interpretations we can give to a statement depending on our point of view.  They also said that it would be important to keep the Act, but realised that there are things that need to be modified according to our changing society.     

 

How are we going to fix long term economic and demographic problems that we are facing in Quebec because of the aging population?  The answer is immigration.  Let’s just remind Canadian people why multiculturalism policy was accepted in 1971.  “The government will support and encourage the various cultures and ethnic groups that give structure and vitality to our society.  They will be encouraged to share their cultural expressions and values with other Canadian and so contribute to a richer life for us all.”  Those are the words of Pierre Trudeau, who was Prime Minister at the time.  In 1988, Bill-C-93 became the Multicultural Act. 

For more information you can consult web sites at:

 

http://www.immigration-quebec.gouv.qc.ca/anglais/settlement/conselling.html

http://www.immigration-quebec.gouv.qc.ca/français/index.html

http://www.micc.gouv.qc.ca/

http://www.ville.sherbrooke.qc.ca/fr/accueilImmigration/splash.html

 

Pierre Elliot Trudeau