A version of this piece was first published on the Wellesley Institute blog on November 7, 2017, and can be accessed here.

Statistics Canada recently released a series of reports analyzing key results from the 2016 Census, including figures on immigration and ethnocultural diversity. The data paints a familiar picture of the Canadian social landscape – a landscape that is increasingly defined by culturally diverse peoples and communities.

The census brief on “Children with an immigrant background: Bridging cultures” captures important data that should prompt us to think critically about the live experiences of this large population segment, as well as its implications for Canadian social, political and economic life.

There were many interesting trends and figures highlighted in the report, including the number of people with foreign born parents, shifts in origin country demographics, family and household dynamics, and linguistic and cultural practices.

For example, in 2016, close to 2.2 million children under the age of 15, or 37.5 percent of the total population of children, had at least one foreign-born parent. The report also notes that children with an immigrant background could represent between 39 percent and 49 percent of the total population of children by 2036.

Further, most people with an immigrant ancestry that were younger in age (under 30s) had origins in Asia and Africa, whereas the older cohort of Canadians with immigrant ancestry (over 30s) tended to trace their origins to Europe and the Americas. This a reflection of shifting immigration trends in Canada over the years.

There were other insights capturing immigration dynamics at the household level. Children born in Canada to at least one foreign-born parent were most likely to live in a multigenerational household, with grandparents, parents, and children under the same roof. In the report, they were interested in how this might affect and drive the transmission of origin-country language and culture.

As with all census data, the information gathered here is limited. While it provides a helpful snapshot and indication of how global migration trends intersect with changes in Canadian demographics, it also leads to some deeper questions that emerge that require further inquiry and debate among practitioners, policymakers, academics, immigrant communities, and young people alike.

How much do we really understand about the social and cultural practices of children of immigrants and their families? Do we account for these lived experiences in how we design programs and services, frame public discourse, and plan for the political and economic future of the country? Are we adequately leveraging the opportunities and addressing the issues presented by these transnational social landscapes? Read the rest of this entry »


The last cards in Amanda Todd’s video read “I have nobody, I need someone… my name is Amanda Todd”. Now the tragic irony of it all is that just a month later, upon conclusion of her short and tumultuous life, we would all know her name.

Over the last several years a number of equally tragic cases of teen suicide have also gone viral, inspiring a wave of public awareness campaigns and policy reform debates addressing bullying. This is an incredibly important development. This world profits from young people, but is not kind to them… so its high time people started recognizing the everyday challenges youth are facing today. It goes without saying that bullying is cowardly and destructive and needs to be addressed in every way possible. However, we must also recognize that this is often a reactive, rather than proactive approach to the issue. Read the rest of this entry »

If I get an ulcer, I’m sending the bill to Jason Russell. Maybe he can use some of the proceeds from the sale of those pretty shiny bracelets. Much has been critiqued about the Stop Kony movement, and even more is on its way. Most importantly, Ugandan voices have finally penetrated into the mainstream, and quite frankly, they’re doing a better job of deconstructing the issue than I could ever do.

In case the napkin doodle isn’t clear enough, I believe that the Stop Kony video is manipulative and irresponsible – at best (catch me off the record and I’ll tell you how I really feel). But I’m not as willing to write off the millions of youth who lent their support to the campaign. One of my many concerns with the video is how it patronizes young people, suggesting that they can’t possibly understand the complexity of the issue beyond a three syllable catch phrase. Unfortunately, many critics have perpetuated this image by characterizing campaign supporters as HappyMeal Hollywood zombies. Read the rest of this entry »

Crisis at 19

January 19, 2012

Remember the good ol’ days when people had their crises in mid life, and it involved purchasing red mustangs and rocking jeans that stopped fitting a decade ago? Somewhere along the way we entered into an age when kids are drafting five year plans in kindergarten, planning their investments by middle school, and entering full blown crisis before prom.

My name is Alpha, and I use sarcasm as a communication tool.

But in all seriousness, its something that’s been on my mind for a long time. I had my crisis in the basement floor of a university library on my nineteenth birthday. I was suddenly struck by an overwhelming sense of inadequacy. Where am I going in life? I’ve not done enough? I’m not doing anything right. How will I make a contribution on this big planet? And so there I was, sobbing head down in a dingy cubicle on my birthday. Why? Because I didn’t have my entire life figured out by nineteen! Read the rest of this entry »