Sociology 211

November 3, 2004


Second midterm – November 8, 2004.  For the midterm, be familiar with the following:

Isajiw, chapters 2-4.

            Issues covered in class and notes, October 13 to November 5

            Skip attitudes and opinions about multiculturalism (Oct. 4 and 8)

            Format will be similar to the last midterm.

            Review on Friday, November 5.


1.  Language – last day.


2.  Jobs – last day.


3.  Other issues.


a.  Initial settlement.  Upon arriving in Canada, immigrants must find a place to live and a means of support, and acquire familiarity with procedures and customs associated with daily life.  For immigrants with funds and ability in English or French, this may not be a great problem, although there is likely to be a period of culture shock (Isajiw, pp. 101-2). 


For refugees who are government sponsored, and for some other immigrants, there are two federal sponsored programs to assist with this period – ISAP and the Host Program.


One program is the Immigrant Settlement and Adaptation Program (ISAP), a federal program that funds agencies such as the RODS, Saskatoon Open Door Society, or the Moose Jaw Multicultural Council, to deliver direct “reception and orientation, translation and interpretation, referral to community resources, para-professional counselling, general information and employment-related services.”  (see CIC web site).   This can include meeting the newcomers at the airport; taking them to a settlement house; finding them more permanent accommodation; introducing them to how to shop, use the bank, apply for a driver’s licence, etc.; language training; employment programs; and child care for those attending the training or employment programs.  Where the newcomers have difficulties dealing with practically any matter, the agency attempts to deal with the problems.   Such services were not available for earlier immigrants, such as the Hungarian or Chilean immigrants, and it was often churches, service organizations, and individuals who assisted these immigrants.  At the same time, such services are poorly funded and only available to some immigrants.  Those who are not eligible for such programs may receive help from other immigrants and their families, church groups, the ethnic community of which they are a part, or other programs.  But some still have little assistance, and life can be very difficult, especially for those not able to communicate in a familiar language.    


The Host Program matches newcomers with resident Canadians.  This is a program where individuals volunteer to help newcomers with aspects of daily life – accompany them shopping, introduce them to local services and programs available, invite them to a Canadian home, make suggestions concerning finding jobs, and so on.  In return, the Canadian host makes friends with the newcomers and their families and helps the local community in assisting the newcomers integrate into and participate in the community.  If anyone is interested in participating in this program, RODS is always looking for people who will serve as hosts. 


b.  Housing.  see Isajiw, p. 100.  Isajiw notes the difficulty of finding affordable and appropriate housing.  In addition to the limited housing and high cost associated with housing, issues such as location and size of the residential unit are important considerations.  


In some larger cities, there are often immigrant “ghettoes” or neighbourhoods where newcomers move.  While the housing may not be ideal in these locations, this may allow the newcomers to become acquainted with other immigrants of their own background, and help them form part of the ethnic community.  These ethnic connections often become important for obtaining jobs and assistance with other problems.  Immigrant communities have traditionally served as a means of integrating into a new country, and the situation remains much the same today. 


In a small city like Regina, there are few such neighbourhoods, although the area east of downtown was an immigrant neighbourhood in earlier days.  Today immigrants may go to apartments in more suburban areas – transportation to language classes and jobs may be difficult until these immigrants find the means to obtain an automobile.  RODS has a bus it uses to transport new immigrants, and this bus is an important service the settlement agency provides.  The other issue is finding appropriate apartments for larger families.  Some families arrive with five or more children – there are relatively few apartments built in the city to accommodate these large families.


As Isajiw notes, discrimination is also a problem.  Discrimination in housing has been one of the major issues associated with prejudice and racism in North America.  Landlords are sometimes reluctant to rent to visible minorities, thus imposing extra costs on these individuals and families – forcing them to find other places to live.  This sometimes has the effect of pushing these minority groups into ghettoized neighbourhoods.  While it is technically illegal to discriminate in this fashion, these practices continue to exist.


c.  Local services.  Services that established Canadians take for granted can be very important for newcomers.  In the two studies of newcomers to Regina that I helped organize, the two types of services that were most noted by newcomers were city parks and the Regina Public Library.  Both of these are free to all residents of Regina, and it is likely that this is one of the reasons for their wide use by newcomers who often have low incomes.  The Public Library not only provides a space and access to books, but has some tutorial programs to help newcomers with English.  City recreation facilities and programs were also widely used, but services such as concerts or music/dance lessons were less used, presumably because of their cost. 


The services of organizations such as RODS and Immigrant Women often formed the cornerstone of services for those who arrived as refugees.  Many of the other services were coordinated through these organizations.


B.  Social-psychological/cultural issues (Isajiw, pp. 100-107).


1.  Expectations and culture shock (pp. 100-102).  The expectations of immigrants may be idealistic and over-optimistic.  Most students about to enter the Canadian labour force know the difficulties associated with finding a job, or finding an appropriate or good job.  Immigrants may have the impression that once they enter Canada, the job search will be relatively easy, especially if they pass the point system and have a high level of education.  This can cause frustration and stress on the part of the immigrant and his or her family.


The jarring effect of being in a different culture may also act as a barrier to integration.  Some of this can occur even among highly educated professional workers who come to Canada – they cannot always be prepared for all the differences in cultural practices that can occur in a new country.  Examples could include food, family practices, religious practices, and bureaucracy.  In the RSIR study, one of the family related issues that seemed most bothersome and confusing for some immigrant families in the two studies was sleepovers for children.  Apparently this was not something that was done in the home country of the immigrants.   Different attitudes to religion and religious practices also bothered some respondents.


2.  Family issues (pp. 103-105).  Isajiw points out how the greater ability of children to learn a new language means that children sometimes become the intermediaries between parents and the new society around them.  The children may resent this as well, feeling they are different from Canadian-born children because of their parents being immigrants.  Schools are a major source of tension for some Canadian-born parents, so the possibilities for tensions and misunderstandings are even greater for immigrant parents.  They may not understand how the schools work, they may not be able to communicate with the teachers, and they may not know how to deal with racial or other slurs that can be common among children. 


In the RSIR study, several respondents said they had trouble communicating with the children’s teachers, because of the language difference.  Translators from RODS were sometimes used to assist in this communication between immigrant parents and the teachers and school system.  At the same time, immigrant parents may be primarily concerned with the potential advantages associated with the schools – they expect their children to succeed and trust that the school system will achieve this.  Having children in school can also be an aspect of the social capital of immigrants – they expand their contacts and networks of friends and acquaintances through the contacts they make through their children. 


One issue mentioned by Isajiw is male-female relationships among teenagers and dating patterns.  These practices may be quite alien to the culture of the immigrants, where arranged marriage or parent and family control over selection of potential partners can be strong.  This has often been a theme in movies about the conflicts between first and second generations in immigrant families – the child who wishes to choose his or her own partner and the parents who wish to have more say in who the partner will be.  In the RSIR study, this did not emerge as a potential problem.  We asked immigrants what was most important aspect of the parents’ culture for their children to maintain.  The most important were being able to speak the language of the parents, and speak this language on a regular basis, and practice the religion of the parents.  The emphasis on children marrying within their own cultural group was of much less importance for the immigrant parents we interviewed.  Most of the immigrant respondents said that the choice of partner/spouse should be the choice of the children. 


Another issue that immigrant couples have to face in Canada is different expectations of the proper role of husband and wife.  Among the issues is whether the wife should work outside the home, who does the household tasks, and how are relationships outside the family established.  All of these may be very different in Canada from the country of origin of the immigrants.  For some immigrant families, wives may have to work in order for the family to survive – jobs for women may be more readily available, men may be undergoing language or other forms of training and education, or for the family to survive or improve its economic opportunities, all members of the family may need to take jobs.  As Isajiw notes, this can cause frictions and status dislocations between husband and wife, especially for immigrants from cultures where wives were not expected to be outside the home (Arabs in France).  The household structure of Canada may also mean that immigrant men are required to do more household work than in their home country.  And some immigrant families may themselves have had servants in their country of origin, whereas this is uncommon in contemporary Canada.


3.  Refugees and exiles (pp. 105-107).  We have discussed this earlier and Isajiw points toward the possible split allegiance of refugees.  Some have no difficulty adopting Canada as a new home – they are enthusiastic in finding a country with greater freedom and choice, and are grateful to be in a position of safety and calm.  Others may feel a tie to the country they came from – they did not necessarily wish to leave but are forced to .  Some of the refugees we interviewed definitely felt this tension.  They may have been politically and socially committed to their country of origin – often they were very actively involved in political struggles in that country and their identity and commitments are at least partly related to those political activities.  They may wish to return to their country of origin, but find it difficult to do so – it may take many years before they can return to that country and in the meantime, conditions there have changed.   In addition, their children are now Canadians and may not wish to return to their country of origin.


Next week – Isajiw, chapter 5 and 6.


Last edited November 5, 2004.