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Bringing People Together - Understanding our Common Links

Although the vast majority of immigrants that we see in our various settlement services and English language classes are individuals who will integrate well into our communities and who will make valuable contributions to Canadian society, throughout our extensive network of Agencies, we are aware of many cultural prejudices that are troubling for us as Canadians, such as spousal and child abuse, treatment of women as second-class citizens, ethnic intolerance and other behaviours that might be considered the norm in other countries.


Some immigrants come from monocultural societies and have limited exposure to diversity. Depending on background, they can arrive with deep seated prejudices about various ethnic groups, religions or lifestyles. This is especially true for immigrants who come from regions with a history of conflict.

What is currently lacking is an organized and coordinated effort to impart Canadian cultural norms or core values to newcomers.

JIAS Canada, together with other NGO’s, is looking to increase public awareness, understanding, and informed public dialogue about multiculturalism, racism, and cultural diversity in Canada. All the partners in this initiative are not-for-profit, immigrant service provider organizations that have a mandate to help settle and integrate newcomers. The underlying drive is to contribute to building a civil and cohesive society. Such a mission is compromised if prejudices create barriers between people.

We are looking to develop a model that can define these values for immigrants and that could be used to provide know-how for those assisting with settlement and integration of newcomers for the purpose of creating awareness of such issues. We are hoping to establish a Protocol similar to the Family Violence Protocol, which will be adhered to by settlement agencies and other institutions involved in settlement and integration.

Rubin Friedman, Manager, Against Prejudice, a Jewish Family Services of Ottawa program, presenting on "Dealing with Prejudice and Bias: A Guide for Work with Newcomers" at the JIAS Canada Annual Membership Meeting in December 2009



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